To Everyone Asking Me To Get A ‘Real’ Job

  Tran Mau Tri Tam
Tran Mau Tri Tam

I am so tired of being told to get a “real” job.

Because I am feeling particularly petty today, I will provide the Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions of “job”:

1 a. a piece of work
1 b. the object or material on which work is being done
2 a. something done for private advantage

As advancements in technology continue to propel the workforce into a different job market, deindustrialization permeates not only the economy but the minds of the millennial generation. Due to deindustrialization, a move away from physical, manual labor, and a move towards more technologically, remote positions, the millennial generation has been able to search for, and work in, jobs in a different manner than their parents and grandparents.

Baby Boomers participated largely in an agricultural society in which they had to work to cultivate and produce their own food. Generation X participated largely in an industrial society in which they manufactured goods. Now, due to advancements in technology, both of these societies are obsolete, leaving millennials with different options for jobs that do not require physical labor in a factory or office.

So, now, let me ask you, what is not “real” about the money I am making every week from writing that goes into my bank account and pays for the plane tickets, the rent, the food, the clothes I have bought over the past year and a half?

What is not real about the frustration I have faced and the lessons I have both taught and learned in public high schools in both Thailand and Colombia? Are these children not real that I have been teaching because I seem to remember very real moments on a daily basis. Real moments that have forever changed the way I look at the world, the way I process my emotions and the way I treat other human beings.

What is not real about the adventures I have had on a daily basis? Just because my adventures are not after 5 pm or only on the weekends does not make them any less real, less valid, less impactful. Just because I earn my money outside of the 9-5 and do not live for the weekends does not mean I am not earning money, that I am not working.

What is not real about my life, the way I have decided to go about pursuing my career and earning my money? It is possible to live a life where work does not feel like work, and us as Americans, or western societies in general, have become so attached to the feeling of stress in relation to “progress,” to “work,” that we feel that if we are not stressed beyond belief, getting home at 7, 8, 9 pm exhausted, that we are not “working.”

How does that make sense? We no longer live in an era where physical labor is something the majority of workers do, so how is physical exhaustion the sign of a job well done?

As deindustrialization continues, combined with the globalization of the economy, millennials are finding themselves working, and desiring to work, in jobs that allow them the freedom to work wherever they want. What is important to note about the job options and choices of all three generations, though, is that they are all centered are social structures, processes, and advancement relevant to their respective time periods.

Have you ever actually calculated how many hours of your life you’re wasting with that “real” job?

One hour in traffic for the morning commute. At least two to four hours during the day sifting through Facebook and Buzzfeed trying to distract yourself from the emails you have to answer. Another hour of pointless meetings that can be efficiently typed and sent through email. Another hour wasted on the drive home.

Come on now, guys. We live in an age where money can be made while traveling and exploring while relishing in your freedom. I don’t believe a single bit of this “I’m so stressed out, look how busy I am, living for the weekend” bullshit.

If you really love your job, then that’s great. If you’re in a position where you’re trying to save for something and your job provides that security, then that’s great. If you desperately need benefits from your job, then that’s great. However, I will not accept that my job is any less real than yours as long as it continues to provide me with the comfort to do the things I want to do without support from anybody else.

Next time someone tells me to get a “real” job, I’m going to need them to list a few ways in which their job provides them with “real” emotional benefits. Is a job only “real” if it provides you with physical things and leaves you stressed? I am genuinely confused by this sentiment that seems to continue to permeate our society.

My job also provides me with the comfort to purchase “real” things, but instead, I choose to purchase adventure. I choose life. Again and again and again. Because, to me, a “real” job is a job that feeds my soul more than it feeds my pocket. A “real” job allows me the freedom and time to explore not only the world but myself.  TC mark

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