I was walking down the hall of the high school where I work as an administrative assistant, and I stopped to say a quick hello to a coworker. Common niceties quickly turned to me being made to feel like less than nothing. Now, it wasn’t outright vitriol coming from the other party involved. It was more along the lines of an unsolicited assessment of my current professional status. Not to mention, the casually entitled attitude with which it was communicated.
Basically, the individual inquired if I was still attending graduate school as they thought that would (and a strongly implied should) be the only reason someone my age would be in my current position. My reply that I was never in grad school was immediately met with “pity eyes.” They further pushed, and said “Oh, you’re going back to school this year, right?” To which I replied, “No.” Then, they wrapped up this lovely interaction by saying, “Oh, I’m sure you’ll get back to school and figure something out for yourself. Or not!” *cue hyena laughter*
Truly, I don’t think this individual meant to make me feel awful. But, like, who the hell are you to say this to me? You don’t know my story, goals, and ambitions. I live in Los Angeles where I run into people trying to “make it” all the time. They’re actors, singers, *cough* writers *cough*… But those are dreams. Yes, they’re working toward achieving them, but a lot of them are paying their rent by working in a Starbucks, a gym, or *cough* at a high school *cough*. That is how they make their living. I should add, these are all respectable forms of employment in their own right, and no one should have to explain why they are working somewhere. The answer is pretty much the same everywhere anyway, right? A paycheck.
Just because someone is working toward something else while concurrently paying bills and rent in a full-time job doesn’t mean they should pull on a sandwich board to put their goals and dreams on display for all to see. As long as you come into your place of employment and do your best work, then that should be that.
I find that people don’t quite know how to react when they hear about someone pursuing a non-mainstream occupation. If you want to be a doctor, they hand over their “top of his class at Johns Hopkins” nephew’s contact info. A lawyer? They’ve got just the Harvard Law grad for you (Elle Woods, anyone?). But if your goal is to become a comedy writer in a capacity that is yet to be named: television, movies, short stories, jokes for people who can actually manage telling the funnies on stage? They don’t usually have Amy Poehler’s direct line for ya – even in La La Land.
The other little piece here is that it’s freaking scary as hell to actually pursue a path that you don’t have a roadmap for! Med school and law school are extremely difficult pursuits, but if your goal is to become a doctor or a lawyer, there is a high likelihood you’ll end up there if you work hard to graduate. Sure, there are writing and comedy courses, but a lot of those are people who are also just trying to “make it,” but they haven’t, and they need money.
Another fun tidbit is that your goal can change and evolve as you really work toward it and discover what you’re truly most passionate about. It really becomes chasing your dream – a more defined and attainable dream – but a dream nonetheless. I don’t know about you, but I’m not super into just blurting out my dream to anyone who asks (I prefer putting it on a blog to readers who didn’t ask at all). So, you usually refrain from responding when someone so rudely diminishes the job that you’re currently in.
I guess this can all be summed up as a classic case of “none of your business.” I always wonder why people get so concerned with my job status because it’s not what they think a “college grad” should be doing. I maintain that as long as I’m not asking you for money, you really have nothing to worry about, do ya? <<<Please, please feel free to use this as a response to the people sniffing around whatever your situation may be – and snapchat that sh*t!
So, whether you’re killing it in your dream job or still working toward figuring out exactly what it may be, don’t let the fools of this world get you down. Some people may think they have all the answers to this riddle that is life (please excuse my cheesy pretension), but you can take solace in the fact that nobody is immune to catching a “case of the Mondays.” If someone tells you they’ve got it all figured out on a Monday, congratulations, because you’re clearly talking to Beyoncé.
I apologize if I sounded a bit too rant-y in this post, but the words were just flying onto the page!
Help a sister out and let me know how you deal with those people who think personal boundaries are “optional.” And, if you’re so inclined, I’d love to hear about some of the goals and projects you all are working toward, or have already achieved!