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Your Career Does Not Define Your Worth

The Myth of Status And Having A “Real Job”

“There are no prerequisites for worthiness.”

– Brené Brown

What is the first question typically asked when you meet someone new? For many people it is:

“What do you do for a living?”

But WHY do we ask this question? I realize it is a way of getting to know a person and is an easy conversation starter, yet, what is the meaning? What are you hoping to find out?

For many, the question “What do you do for a living?” is a way to find out a person’s worth according to some arbitrary rules society has imposed. We have been conditioned to believe people who have good careers, make a lot of money or have fancy job titles are more important or worthy than those who don’t.

Society has taught us that a person’s job is more important than who they are. We’ve also been taught we should get what we can, while we can – even if that means stepping on others to do it.

We demean job titles and make fun of people who are not up to these bullshit standards of success. Having (and making) money is more important than helping others. Even if that means you aren’t happy.

Because society tells us status is the ultimate decider of who is worthy. But like many other things, society is wrong.

What Is A “Real Job?”

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I’ve heard the term “getting a real job” since I was young. When people talk of a “real job”, they are discussing the traditional custom of working when and where others do. They talk about following everyone else’s path.

And I heard this term twice within the last couple of months from friends. So I asked the first person, what is a “real job?”

The response was “a job where you work 9 to 5”, and “a job which is respectable and makes money.”

To say I was floored would put it lightly. I could not believe this notion that if you didn’t work like everyone else, you were not respectable. If you didn’t have a fancy title or made a lot of money, you did not have a “real job.”

The second person I heard discussing “real jobs” brought up people who post vlogs on YouTube. According to this person, they were “sending the wrong message” about jobs and work and it wasn’t, again, a “real job.” I agree some of them may send the wrong message, but not all are.

Yet, many people posting vlogs are living their lives how they want, having fun doing all kinds of things with their family, friends, and kids, and some of them make their living doing it.

This is what we should strive for. We should do something we enjoy while making money doing it. It doesn’t matter how much money either. As long as you can support yourself and your family, work where and how you want.

I know not everyone believes this, but there is a large portion of society which does.

We are taught it is alright to be miserable at work because everyone else is. It is okay to do something you hate because that is how you pay your bills and buy things you don’t need.

We are also taught it is fine to hate your job as long as it a respectable job and makes you lots of money. However, when we are miserable at work, this often leads into other areas of life. It affects relationships, mood, and mental health.

All because we are supposed to get a “real job.”

What Are You Chasing?

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Have you thought about why you are in your current job? Do you love what you do or are you doing it for the status it supposedly brings?

Also, what are you chasing? Are you chasing happiness? Money? Approval? Do you have control over these things or are you chasing someone else’s ideas? Are you happy in your current situation?

Is your “real job” making you “real miserable?”

We have become so complacent with being miserable in our careers, it has become a cultural norm. Somewhere along the way, we have become lost. We stopped experiencing the joy of life because we feel we have no control anymore.

We have forgotten what it means to live.

We allow others to define what we should be doing. Who we should be. We drift through life on cruise control, letting others determine our fate.

But instead of chasing money, status, and material items, we should chase living life how we want. We should let go of the idea of the “real job”, and determine for yourself what that looks like.

Chase what makes you happy regardless of status or money.

A New Narrative

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

I dislike the “what do you do for a living question.” I dislike it because it is irrelevant. What you do for a living tells me nothing about who you are.

So I will no longer ask it.

Next time I meet someone new, I will ask questions such as “What do you do for fun?” Or “What do you get excited about?” Maybe “What are your hobbies?”

We could learn more about a person by asking these questions instead of asking what they do for a living.

How about we change the narrative? How about we focus on the person and not the title? Because we all worthy no matter what we do for a career.

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