Where Are You Working? Answering the Job Question
It was one of those humid summer nights on Long Island. My friend and I went to a nearby diner — I was giving in to my regular craving for their savory chicken-caesar wrap — and walked around the local town. We talked about our lives, our relationships with those close to us, and navigating our way through our early 20s.
While I want to give this writing thing a try, my friend is learning the ropes of becoming a holistic health coach. We both are met with the odd stare here and there when asked, “What are you doing these days?”
Why? Well, we don’t necessarily desire to have conventional 9-5 desk jobs, and we aren’t looking to settle for unhappiness. (Of course, it’s only fair to mention that we have the luxury of not having to pay rent, and therefore having the privilege of cultivating what we want to do.)
As if on cue, we spot a familiar face around the corner. It’s an old friend we haven’t seen in months. Before I can initiate small talk about our night, he asks us what we’re doing with our time. My friend and I look at each other with amusement; somehow, “the job question” has become the forefront of conversation everywhere.
Our culture is geared toward certain expectations, one of which is what constitutes a “good job.” When those expectations aren’t met, because one veers off into an atypical direction, others can become judgmental. Although it’s important to make enough money for financial stability, one can certainly try to do so in an enjoyable work environment while following his or her intrinsic aspirations.
“My feeling is that most of our society has been sadly, yet successfully conditioned to believe that having a typical 9-5 job is basically the meaning of life,” Mike Sheer, an aspiring holistic practitioner, said. “’If you don’t have a good job or career, then you can’t survive!’ This is the same old stupid, BS scare tactic that I see our society ram down everyone’s throat. You get people who become neurotic, competitive, and ego-driven.”
There’s a significant difference as well between a job and a calling. A job is about being productive and earning a paycheck. A calling is what you believe to be your purpose or role in life — your joi de vivre, as the French say.
“To have your work be your calling is indeed the ideal,” Heather Fork, MD, CPCC, owner and founder of the Doctor’s Crossing, said. As an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach, Fork works with physicians attempting to avoid burnout. “[F]or a large majority, work feels like ‘just a job.’ I believe it is never too late to find one’s calling. A calling doesn’t have to be your 8-5 job. It can be something you do outside of work. And it often is, because the money is not the primary motivation. Given time and dedication, it has the potential to turn into a new career. This I know for a fact!”
As my friend and I recently discussed the infamous “job question,” we realized that even explaining what you are passionate about doesn’t completely define who you are.
“When I meet someone for the first time and they ask ‘Kelly, what do you do?’, I say I’m a holistic health coach, but what I really wish I had the courage to say was ‘well, I try to become more aware of myself deep down so I can express my truest self to others and share as much love with the world as I can,’” she said.
“Being a health coach is just what I’m interested in, what I’m passionate about; it’s how I live my life. What do I do, though? I change and I grow. That’s what everyone does.”
Suval, L. (2012). Where Are You Working? Answering the Job Question. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/08/15/where-are-you-working-answering-the-job-question/