You are not your job

Follow your passion. What could possibly be wrong with that? It’s probably the worst advice I ever got. You know? You know, follow your dreams and go broke, right? I mean, that’s all I heard growing up. I didn’t know what to do with my life, but I was told if you follow your passion it’s all gonna work out.
~Mike Rowe

I spent five years getting a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology. All that time I heard implicit or explicit promises that people with degrees get good jobs, the jobs they want, and are very successful people. I went to two junior colleges and a university. In at least one classroom on each campus, there was a graph showing that people with more education tended to make more money.

Then I graduated in December of ’07. Right before the economic downturn became news. I applied and applied and applied. Everywhere and everything I qualified for. Over the course of two years I probably applied for a hundred different positions. I scored two interviews. No offers.

Unless you’ve been there, you can’t imagine the kind of hit that takes on your self-esteem. I started to become physically ill every time I filled out an application. Every time I sent something out and was passed up I felt worthless, useless, and cheated. Looking back, I was in serious need of anti-depressants and psychiatric counseling. I was a mental mess.

In the end, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I got my old job at the pet store back and decided to move out of my mother’s house. I quit job hunting.

I eventually moved back to the town I went to school at and where some of my friends still lived. I have two jobs…one at a burrito joint and another at a stained glass studio. I make effectively minimum wage.

And I’m perfectly content. There is nothing wrong with me. I am not stupid, worthless, useless, or any of the other things I used to say to myself during that time.

I’m not saying higher education is a bad thing. Save for the financial burden and unrealistic expectations, my experience in college was pleasant and had a very positive impact on my life. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change it.

I get looked down upon by customers a lot at the burrito joint. They’re wearing their business casual, talking on their smart phone, slightly overweight, trying to get their burrito made as fast as possible so they can get back to work on time. To them, I’m just some stupid butchy-looking chick wearing too-large clothes and working for minimum wage because I’m too fucking stupid to get a job that pays better.

Let me tell you, internets. It doesn’t matter what job you do. No job is beneath you. No one else’s job is better or worse than yours. If you do good work and you’re reasonably happy and it pays the bills, it doesn’t matter what you do.

Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame touched on this subject somewhat at the end of a 20 minute video well worth watching.

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3 Responses to “You are not your job”

  1. I saw this episode…don’t trust experts, and efficiency vs effectiveness. Wonderful video, wonderful last minutes.

    Very mature post, Fox.

  2. More people need to get this.

  3. This! I love you!

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