The problem with passion

What does one do when their dream job is not something anybody would pay them good money to perform?

Penelope Whitson

A friend’s children recently demanded to visit her office to see where she goes during the day. Their logic is that if she chooses to go to the office five days a week instead of hanging out at home, then her workplace must be awesome, with free gummi bears and unicorns for hat stands. So she took them in and said she’d never seen such disappointment.

One of the munchkins marched up to a colleague and demanded:

"Do you sit here?"

"‘Yes."

"Every day?"

This little voice of reason has yet to learn that, for many adults, jobs aren’t actually supposed to be fun. Because fun doesn’t always equal status or delicious cash. 

How many people do you know that actually like their job? Or sort of like their job? Would rather be doing something else but that would mean going back to school, taking a pay cut, not being able to afford stuff like mortgages and children? Or stuff like my overpriced drink of choice at present, the $4.50 soy chai latte? It’s flavoured milk, innit? I also paid $9 for a sandwich the other day. It was a pretty nice sandwich but I think it signals a downward spiral into corporate wanker madness. 

Peering into the abyss of the unknown is unnerving – what if your ‘dream’ job turns out to be rubbish, or what if you turn out to be rubbish at your dream job? Your life could change dramatically, maybe not for the better, so it’s just easier to daydream instead. And what will people think when you confess that you don’t want to be a banker, you want to cut hair? Not everyone will be overwhelmingly positive about your chances of success. Are they just being ‘realistic’ or negative because if they can’t have their dream job then you can’t, either?

We also come up against ideas of what we should be doing. If you’ve been to university you are apparently ‘educated’ and ‘above’ doing certain jobs. The thing is, I came out of university qualified to write essays on Euripides. I have yet to be asked to do this by an employer. And then throw in some peer pressure – if all your friends wear suits and earn truckloads then there’s the feeling you ought to do the same.

We’re told to do what makes us happy. Sadly, what makes me happy is lying in bed knowing eggs benedict and the newspaper are on the way. I’m not sure I can make a career out of this. And, of course, when you really need a job you’ll generally take what’s on offer. Because you have bills to pay, possibly people to support, feelings of utter lameness at being unemployed to combat and the knowledge that good jobs are hard to come by.

No, I don’t know what the answer is. I do think it’s important to enjoy your job. But that’s pretty much the only conclusion I’ve come to. Unless you count the fact that I’ve realised I’m now too old to be a trophy wife – the dream job of my twenties. I just don’t think I have it in me to do the pool boy and run about all day in six-inch heels anymore.

And – I did think recently that I had my dream job but then they took away the free Tim Tams. Now I have to reconsider if being able to afford the flavoured milk is worth it if I have to buy the biscuits too.