That is a question I’ve been asking myself these days. I’ve just quit my job with no where else to go to, a prospect which is both scary and exciting. It’s exciting when I apply for jobs and think I might actually find a job that I like, with people I like.
The only problem is, that I don’t quite know what that job is. I haven’t got a clear career path, only a vague idea that I’d like to do something which requires writing, communication, making social connections, and working towards a good cause.
Thinking about it the other day, I thought to myself, but what do I really want to do with my life right now? What do I want to achieve?
Society seems to push you in a certain direction and you feel inadequate when you are not at a level that you are expected to be at. For example being somewhere on the career ladder by a certain age, having a ‘proper job’ instead of working behind the bar.
Society and people you meet most often than not categorise you according to the job you do. If you are successful or unsuccessful depends on your job.
‘What do you do?’ is the first question that people are usually interested in when they meet you.
I’ve come across manuals and self-help advice which advise you to only socialise with ‘successful’ people in order to get ahead. Successful here, usually meaning being professionally successful.
The problem is that a lot of professionally successful people may not be successful emotionally and are not happy in other areas of their lives, whereas a lot of people in what are generally considered as ‘mediocre’ jobs are fulfilled in every aspect of their life. They’re not rich, but they’re not stressed either and their jobs don’t take over their lives.
So for me, success doesn’t depend on the job that one has, be they a waiter or a CEO, but it depends on if they are happy and fulfilled with what they do have. I feel a connection with someone depending on their personality and the energy they radiate, rather than the job they do.
I’ve realised that I have applied for certain jobs, just because others considered them as ‘good’ jobs, whereas in reality, I would have say much preferred to work in a coffee shop. But I felt I needed to prove to myself and to others that I could have a ‘good’ job.
I read a profile of a cleaner once in a Guardian column. She was from an educated middle class background and wrote about how she was happy being a cleaner and didn’t feel the need to prove herself to anyone, but how her family and friends found it difficult to come to terms with her job and kept wanting her to do something else. After reading the profile I felt respect for this woman, because she was happy with what she was doing and brave enough to stand up against the social norms surrounding her by doing it and actually enjoying it.
So, I realised I want a lot of things. I want to make a living through writing, and I want to travel, but in the meantime I will have to have jobs to support me, so I can do these things. What I want mainly though, is to be happy with whatever job I have and whatever I end up doing with my life, like the cleaner in the Guardian article.
What do you want? Do you feel that people are defined in terms of their work? Do you care about people’s professional success when you meet them?