Cary Tennis, Salon's advice columnist, about working at a job you don't really enjoy and what to do with your life. It hits pretty close to home. There are many aspects of my job that I really like. I like the team I work with. I like the flexibility (in some ways) this job affords me. Of course, I've earned those vacation days and flexibility by having worked here for six years (not to mention the fact that I've been working pretty much since I turned 16). To some extent I even like the work. Is it my life's calling, communications at a multinational financial firm? No, not really. But I'm not working the check out counter at the Jewels? No, but there are days that I think the check out counter might be better.
The days when I remember that the firm I work for is part of this whole financial system that is "too big to fail' and doesn't actually "do" anything other than make people (and not real people, other firms and banks and the such) money. The days I arguing with the powers that be that sending a communication should actually communicate something and not just be spin that you want your employees to hear. The days we are told we need to do more with less and work smarter.
Some of these problems, issues, would be issues no matter what firm I might work for because that's just the way companies are. At their best, most companies are dysfunctional families. Everyone takes their turn being the black sheep. Everyone gets scolded for doing what they thought their parent/manager wanted but didn't really want because they don't know how to explain their expectations. This is because companies are run and populated by humans and, annoyingly, humans are human.
People put up with this because...well, I guess because that's the way our world works. We are in no Caillou dreamland where things are easy and wonderful and cute. We are square in the middle of Dilbert where bosses are idiots who think they are showering you with love when they provide free coffee and a wrist rest so you don't develop carpel tunnel syndrome. I put up with it because I have grown accustomed to my level of living and I have a child to provide for, and a car payment, and student loans, and a husband who is looking for work. Have I cut back to the bare minimum so I can live more freely? No. I like nice (but not crazy nice) clothes. I like my iPhone and cable and stuff. And I don't even think we have that much stuff. I know people with a whole lot more stuff than us. But do I live better than a lot of people in this world? Heck yes. Do I live a better than a lot of people in this country? In this city? Yes. I know I do. And I am grateful for that.
So while I would LOVE to follow Cary's advise and give it all up, cancel the cable, and the phones and buy all my clothes at Salvation Army and only check books out from the library and commute via bicycle - seriously there are times I would actually like to do that stuff because I know we could live on way less than we do right now and one of the things stopping me from really finding my dream job (whatever in the hell that might be) is knowing I'd probably have to take a pay cut - I just can't.
But like everything else, maybe we take it in moderation. Maybe we say this month we're not going to eat out at all and make more meals at home. Next month we're going to only enjoy entertainment that is free. And someday, hopefully soon, I'll figure out a way to create a better balance in my life. Between my job, and my passion and my family. If you have any tips, send 'em my way.