Remember when you were a teenager and you had a part-time or summer job? You did your job, got your paycheck, then lived your life and had fun with your friends. You didn’t attach your identity or sense of self-worth to what you did to earn some spending money. When did that change? Why does that shift from simply getting a job to choosing a career set so many of us up for a lifetime of misery?
Why do so many young (and old) college-educated white-collar professionals hate their jobs? Maybe they feel stuck because they trained for these jobs, are well-compensated, and are still looking at years of paying off the student loan debt it took to get them there. They’re doing what they were supposed to do, following the path laid out for them by their parents, teachers, and other well-intentioned adults. And they feel trapped.
And then there’s the attitude that so many people seem to have, that if you’re college-educated, or come from a certain social class, or held a prestigious job title in the past, that various jobs are beneath you. You’re either “overqualified” or underemployed, wasting your potential either way.
So what?! You are not under any obligation to stick with the same job or career for your entire life. Try something, and if you don’t like it, try something else. Get a job at Target or Starbucks if you want to. Step away from the desk and do some physical work. Go to work in a warehouse, or at Trader Joe’s like The Cosby Show‘s Geoffrey Owens. Drive a truck. Sell shit on eBay or Etsy. Wait tables. Tend bar. Pick up trash. Mow lawns. Clean houses. Get off your ass and get your hands dirty!
You don’t have to sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen all day for 40 years just because you have a college degree! Sitting is the new smoking, and work-related stress can kill you. Higher education is supposed to give us more options, but it seems like it often eliminates more opportunities than it opens up. Education is supposed to broaden our minds, not close them off to all the possibilities that the world has to offer.
Why do we have such narrow ideas about what people are supposed to do for a living? Why do we assign value to our fellow humans and rank them based on what they do to earn a paycheck and pay the bills? Enough with the job shaming already. We’re better than that, and we deserve better than that.