9.21.2010

Working for a Living, Social Circle, Skillz

I just read a post on Get Rich Slowly entitled The War on Work - it has a video of the dude from Dirty Jobs in it talking about lamb castration so I didn't bother watching the video! But the post itself is about WORK. As someone attached to her job, it did give me some fodder for thinking about what I got from jobs I didn't like. What's your deal with work, people? You don't have to tell me what you do (but I'd like to hear if it you did) -- but do what do you get out of working? Any of the stuff they mention?

I think I've gotten some things out of jobs I didn't love. Social circles. Skill building. $. Now my job is more closely linked with my sense of meaning -- and sometimes dangerously linked with my self-worth, sense of purpose or mental health.

I wore this to work last week and forgot to post it. It's a work-appropriate skirt though so I thought I'd better.


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blouse/Black Bear Vintage
skirt/YSL via Beacons
shoes/endless vegetarian section

6 comments:

  1. I don't actually think there is a war on work at all! If you listen to government rethoric, you're basically worthless if you don't work and even ludicrously rich people carry on working even if they could retire.

    There is a possibility that I may lose my job come next May. And it worries me hugely, over and above the 'I won't have any money' thing because I love my job (government social research). This is what I want to do. For some people being made redundant can be a chance to finally do what thye've always wanted but i have no alternative plan. I'd probably be alright at quite a lot of other jobs, but there is literally nothing I would want to do more than do research to inform policy. Even in an ideal world where everything would go according to plan in whatever I chose to do, I wouldn't want to do anything else. So yeah, I get all the things they mention, plus satisfaction from knowing that I'm bloody good at my job and mental stimulation from doing something interesting. When I used to work in admin jobs the boredom would drive me crazy.

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  2. I think it is one thing to be running after your passions but I also think its a bit ridiculous to want to be sitting on a couch lounging around all day watching day time television. Kelly Rippa and I are not going to be friends no matter how much I think we could be. Being unemployed makes you think crazy thoughts. You think all of the normal self loathing thoughts of depression, but you also start thinking about going back to school, cooking all the time, keeping your house clean (that's impossible though because wallowing in your own self pity does not a tidy house make). Not having a job just makes you worry... All. The. Time. Because no matter all of the sincere advice people give, its not an offer letter.

    However, this period of unemployment for me has made me realize that I like administrative roles (I'm a crazed detail oriented person) and managing projects the most. This was something that in my mind numbing existence at my previous job, I never ever thought about. I love talking with vendors, and filling out paper work, etc. Then there is the fact that I have really thought about going back to school. When I went off to college, I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do. It wasn't until I had time to actually think about it, that I realized I could potentially desire going into fashion design. Its something that I think about all the time, and something I wish I was better at. I don't think there is a war on work, I think advertisers and investment companies would like you to think that so you can blow all of your retirement on a yacht. I think rather the real war is on companies to employ smart intelligent workers that work ridiculously hard at their jobs because they want to be there and not just hiring some entry level drone because they can pay them dirt cheap because they are still living with their parents. Meanwhile people with loads of experience with a lot of potential are being looked over because of money. It is incredibly frustrating.

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  3. I think rather the real war is on companies to employ smart intelligent workers that work ridiculously hard at their jobs because they want to be there and not just hiring some entry level drone because they can pay them dirt cheap because they are still living with their parents. Meanwhile people with loads of experience with a lot of potential are being looked over because of money. It is incredibly frustrating.
    I agree with this statement!

    I don't feel there is a war on work - unless by war they are referring to the not so good ecomony and the lack of available jobs.

    I don't mind my work I'm helping people - I do legal translation work and intakes - and have paralegal research duties. But it is not a job I love- coupled with the fact that the firm is in a precarious financial position -also make for an unhappy me. I thought I wanted to go to law school but after two years working for a law firm NEVER ever want to do that. I would like to go back to school , but need to pay down some student loand first. I would like to try to get a job doing what I would like to do (Marketing and Publicity/ fundraising work for non-profits)

    But it seems that those jobs are few and far between and the ones that are out there pay so little!!!! It's incredible that some place require a BA and a second language and then only want to pay you $12 an hour that is to me- unbelievable. I would have to move back home and eat dollar store food everyday just to pay off student loans at that rate of pay. So I stay at my job - and hope that I can start applying to schools soon.

    Again,

    I don't hate my work - it is just not what I really want to be doing. I realize I'm lucky to have a decent job,. but at the same time feel kind of hopless as to how to go about getting what I want for the future. And this post is my rambly confession for the week!

    You are so lucky to be doing work that you love!

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  4. I actually did watch the Mike Rowe video - and was surprised at what a compelling speaker he is. He had valuable things to say - as did the article. My husband tends to take the I-hate-my-job route, whereas I am doing everything I can to get the jobs I want because I love what I do. I think we do need to get back to a place where people realize that they are fortunate to be working because it can be liberating. Working hard is an opportunity to live up to your potential and can be incredibly fulfilling. I look at it the same way it feels to have a clean apartment after spending hours making it that way - accomplishment.

    I started working when I was 15. My first job was as a cashier and server at a Chinese restaurant downtown. From there, I worked as a busperson at a French restaurant, a busperson/bartender/hostess at an fine-dining style cafe, in a college campus cafeteria, for a fundraising campaign making phonecalls every night, in an academic library, in 4 different historical archives, and in a public library.

    I'm 21. And I feel so much better about myself to know that I put myself through college and am about to put myself through graduate school based on the value of work - some of which I have loved (archives & libraries) and some of which I hated (that damn French restaurant) or only tolerated (fundraising). But I recognize how privileged I am to have had any part in deciding where I have ended up working, and as a result - recognize the value of hard work.

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  5. Thanks, guys, for your thoughtful replies. I agree with pretty much everything you (collectively) noted:

    - expectations of us to work hard, work always, work long hours, owe the company everything

    - sometimes just liking to do the things that others seem to hate (I also like administrative stuff because it speaks to my anal-ness)

    - using each and every kind of job to develop skills and have a sense of accomplishment and resourcefulness in supporting yourself and getting yourself where you need to be

    - that being in a place where you realize you're lucky to work and a worker-among-workers being liberating

    - idea that we've become what we get paid for

    I know that this conversation is also loaded with class, sex, race and lookist issues as well.

    I think, for me, what really resonated in that blog post was that for all kinds of jobs (salt-of-the earth manual labor, white collar, tech or admin ghetto, etc.) have something to offer people aside from identity and self-worth.

    I think the "war on work" they speak about is about demeaning honest hard-days-work if it's not something that people aspire to do...and also how many people are desperately trying to do "4 Day Work Week" and retire early. There is a personal/self-help sector that is very focused on that these days and while some of it is backlash to the increased work expectations, some of it is unreasonable and scam-ish.

    These 2 sentence summed up what that blog post meant for me:

    “The collective effect of all of that has been this marginalization of lots and lots of jobs,” Rowe says. “Somebody needs to be out there talking about the forgotten benefits [of work].” He believes that what’s needed is a PR campaign for work.

    Anyway, thanks for sounding off on this topic with your own thoughts!

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  6. Wow...great post and great comments! I love your summary points:

    "- expectations of us to work hard, work always, work long hours, owe the company everything"

    This seems to me to be an attitude passed on from previous generations and is now in direct conflict with our own experiences. I think job INsecurity is one of the major stressors (if not the main one) for most people I know, no matter what age they are. In over two decades of working I can't even believe the number of jobs I've had (listed here for amusement):
    http://obsidiankitten.blogspot.com/2007/07/working-is-for-chumps.html

    "- sometimes just liking to do the things that others seem to hate (I also like administrative stuff because it speaks to my anal-ness)"

    I think a lot of my work history was figuring out what I *didn't* like to do ... (is that ass backwards?) and then slowly admitting to myself what I do like to do. (I too like admin stuff.) I always thought I wanted to work in the arts...after ten years of building a nice resume in that field I had to admit it wasn't really where my heart was, although I did like the grantwriting and other aspects of it. Took me awhile to take the skills elsewhere, but that kind of ties into your next point:

    "- using each and every kind of job to develop skills and have a sense of accomplishment and resourcefulness in supporting yourself and getting yourself where you need to be"

    "- that being in a place where you realize you're lucky to work and a worker-among-workers being liberating"

    Yes! This has been a slow lesson for me, but I'm getting there. The practice of gratitude, in other words, as opposed to some warped sense of entitlement. Most recently I had a job in retail (women's clothing) to help make ends meet and it was kind of humbling. But I liked the women I was working with and it was nice to have a job that wasn't too mentally taxing. I really tried to focus on what was good about it whenever my brain tried to pull that "this is what I'm doing with an Ivy League education?!" thing on me.

    "- idea that we've become what we get paid for"

    Not buying into becoming a human DOing rather than a human BEing.

    Love this topic -- thanks.

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Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment. Please don't apologize for writing a lot - I like long thoughtful comments so bring on the "wall o' text" if you wish and have no shame.

Short comments are, of course, also always welcome.