In an Age where Financial Stability Trumps Job Satisfaction
Lets All Be Astronauts!
I don’t know when society decided to start valuing money over happiness. Whenever we did, we made a huge mistake. It’s upsetting to see smart, well-off people, no older than 25, lining up to get on a Greyhound to go work on oil rigs or in coal mines for the sole reason of: “It pays well.” It’s even more upsetting that I’m scoffed at when I tell someone, who complains about their job everyday, to start pursuing something in which they have an actual interest. The average person spends 99,117hrs (or 11 and a half consecutive years) working in their lifetime. If we’re going to devote roughly 1/8th of our life to work, we should make it something we love.
I knew from the moment I heard my alarm go off at 7am on a rainy Monday morning that I had to get up and out of my warm, comfortable bed. Half awake and half frozen, I had to go work at a grocery store. I knew that this 9-5 schedule wasn’t going to work for me. It wasn’t the 7am part that bothered me, as I’ve gotten out of bed even earlier for a year to catch a bus for school. It wasn’t the rain either, and the fact that it was Monday hadn’t even occurred to me until I was well on my way to work. No, what bothered me was the banality that came with working a job where my interests and passions were irrelevant to what I did for eight hours a day.
In Today’s Career Minded World The Stratosphere Always Seems That Much Further Away
Before I worked at the grocery store, I went to a group interview for a clothing shop. I had gotten there a bit early, so I started talking to one of the people who also came for the interview. He was a nice guy around 23, who had just moved from London. He told me that he had always wanted to come over to Canada, so he’d been saving money while working as a traveling music teacher back home. He was staying and working at a hostel just a few blocks away, but needed a second job so he could get a small place for himself. I told him I admired what he was doing and that I always wanted to go and live in the UK for a while, but I am nervous about traveling by myself. His tone suddenly got very serious, and he told me that there’s no point in being scared. He said if it’s what you want, then do it or else you’ll regret giving into your worries and doubts.
The interview started like this: the interviewer would ask a question, and everyone would take turns answering it. The questions started off pretty basic. Mainly background information like, “Where do you go to university?” and “What did you do at your last job?” Towards the end, the questions became more open ended and the final question asked was, “What do you want to do for a living?” Everyone in the interview began with great answers. “I want to be a fashion designer…”, or “I want to own my own restaurant…” My friend from London said he was interested in being an orchestra conductor. However, without fail, every one of those sentences was followed by, “But realistically…” and their final answer was something far less spectacular and ambitious. I was especially disappointed with my friend who thought that traveling across the ocean and starting a whole new life was realistic, but becoming an orchestra conductor was not. More so, I wondered why he felt like he couldn’t follow the advice that he had given me only an hour ago.
At some point, we forgot to do what makes us happy. When we were in elementary school, we were taught to follow our dreams. We were told that no dream was too ambitious or wild. Then we entered middle school, and we were told to refine those dreams to something more attainable. Suddenly an astronaut was too improbable, and becoming a teacher was a more mature answer. High school told us to stop dreaming altogether, and get good grades so we could go to university. The universities tell us that some paths are superior to others, and their message is reinforced by the tuition fees and program funding. They tell us to get good grades, and join the white-collar workforce, where you’ll then be told to work hard and hope that you make partner. We stopped dreaming sometime in middle school – likely when we took that human biology course over creative writing because it wasn’t recognized by ‘top universities’ as an elective. The words ‘financial stability’ have been deemed more important than ‘job satisfaction’ to us, and when that happens, you end up with statistics like the ones reported in Forbes that say 87% of people are unhappy with 99,117 hours of their life.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. It may not be easy at first, but there are few reasons why we can’t be working towards a career that we’ll love. Online classes are available, night school is available, skill workshops are gratis. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a musician, writer, painter, accountant, teacher, or even an astronaut. If we’re willing to put in the work, we can all get to where we want to be.
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