I know how to be when you’re trying to get by. I know how to be when you’re trying to save money. I don’t know how to be when you’re thinking beyond getting by and saving money.
You do not get invited to contribute original work and ideas simply because you are skilled at pouring coffee or entering data into accounting software.
Work is work. We do it because we need to make money, to pay bills, to have a roof over our heads. We do it to imbue our life with a tiny bit of meaning. It’s the thing that makes it so that we can do the stuff we really like, like yoga classes and coffee with friends and fitful bursts of shopping on windy Saturdays. It is energy expended in order for money to be made. The very word sounds trying. The hard consonant is a closed fist. “I can’t meet you for apple cider and donuts,” you say, “because I have to work.” There are sympathetic sighs; a tacit understanding. The discussion is closed.
My father passed away when I was 24, the youngest of six siblings. We were close; we loved talking about hard work and money, whether we were out eating at Denny’s, or at home watching football or the Daily Show. He died before he got to see me go to grad school, start a real professional career, meet the love of my life, get married, get a mortgage, have kids, have grandkids, start my 401(k), live a life. My dad was 54 years older than me, but his passing was sudden. When I was younger, I didn’t anticipate that he wouldn’t be able to walk me down the aisle, and now I have no idea how I’m ever going to afford a wedding in the future. His parents (my grandparents) lived to be 93. I thought my dad was in otherwise good health until he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the age of 78.
If you are also an adult who actually didn’t turn out to be a veterinarian/astronaut/marine biologist the way you dreamed about when were a kid, well join the club. Most people — 94% according to a longitudinal study published in the journal Social Forces — do not end up in the job they wanted when they were eight years old. This is interesting:
A little over a year ago, Tess Vigeland left her job as the host of Marketplace Money (see here). She’s currently working on a book about “career choices, ambition, the pressure to have a linear, upward trajectory in your work life,” and has been traveling around the country interviewing people, including her own parents. Vigeland wrote a post yesterday detailing the conversation she had with her mother, a former teacher, and her father, an orthopedic surgeon who is still practicing medicine.