What’s Wrong With Just Having a Job?

person using forklift

Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

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.

~PEACE~

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What color is your collar (and does it even matter)?

Here I am with my buddy Norm, proudly rockin’ our blue collars!

 

This week, workers around the globe united to celebrate May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day.

For most of us, what we do for work is an integral part of our personal identities. It defines who we are. We love to label and judge each other based solely on what we do to earn our paychecks. I like to call this common practice Job-Snobbery, or Job-ism. The Minimalists described this modern cultural phenomenon beautifully in their popular essay Life’s Most Dangerous Question: What Do You Do? 

 

Once you scrape away its cheap gold-plating, however, you’ll find a series of irksome inquisitions lurking beneath the surface. Sadly, what we’re actually asking when we posit this malefic question, albeit unknowingly, is:

How do you earn a paycheck? How much money do you make? What is your socioeconomic status? And based on that status, where do I fall on the socioeconomic ladder compared to you? Am I a rung above you? Below you? How should I judge you? Are you worth my time?

So many labels!

Working class, middle class, blue collar, white collar. But at the end of the day, and at the end of our lives, does any of it really matter? Why do we look down on some occupations while we put others up on a pedestal? If we all “have to” earn a paycheck, regardless of whether we make $25k/year or $250k/year, aren’t we all really just “working class”?

The grass isn’t greener.

If you’ve ever switched careers, or even had more than one job in your lifetime, you know that every workplace and every position has its pluses and minuses. No career path is entirely free of issues, obstacles, or annoyances. A bad boss is a bad boss, and Mondays are still Mondays, regardless of the size of your paycheck or the prestige of your title. Whether your collar is white or blue, the grass isn’t any greener on the other side.

We’re all in this together.

And we have more in common with each other than we think. So if we’re ever going to find happiness in our life’s work, we need to drop the superficial labels and the hierarchical ranking system, focus on finding the work that works best for each of us, and not give a f*ck about what anyone else thinks of our choices.

~PEACE~