Myth: Love your job

When I graduated university I had a job I hated.  I stuck it out because of the amount of debt I had from school loans.  I had majored in a subject I didn’t enjoy which my NM choose for me and at the time, I didn’t stand up to her.  So, I was stuck – for a while.

Somewhere along my path of independence I started to read about how important it is to love your job (for this post, definition of job here means career and not role).  I had to love my job, find what you love and do it.

How unbelievably heavy that felt!  The more and more I read about it, the more and more I hated my subsequent jobs.  I even made a career change after sticking out the job that paid off my loans.  And I wasn’t in love.

And when I discovered Narcissism and my own battle as an ACoN that task became even heavier.  Love your job! (insert puke) How badly I wanted to ‘find myself’ and find what I love to do and start!  I even went back to school for a completely different degree and worked in an entirely different profession.  I’ve heard this is quite common for ACoNs.

And I’m still out of love.  My last job which I recently left has left me in a search and panic.  More search led to more panic.  More panic led to depression, anxiety and lack of sleep.

And then I read something else about loving your job and I thought: could all this be a lie?  Do you really need to love your job?

The research Brené Brown on whole-hearted people (emotionally healthy, authentic people) presented in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, tackled this myth.

Not all whole-hearted people love their job! 

Some do and some don’t.  This is not a criteria.  However, none are in a soul sucking career which they loathe.

I started to see the myth unravel before me as I read it for a second, third time.  How much of this fairy tale had become ingrained in my head and how much it had caused a lot of panic and fear and anxiety.

According to Brown’s research, whole-hearted people focus on meaningful work.  If meaningful work also pays the bills, then great, but it is a matter of luck if the two are aligned.  How you pay the bills does not have to be something you love.

And the best part is meaningful work is defined by each individual.  Meaningful doesn’t mean what society defines it as.  No one defines it for you.

Brown found that whole-hearted people play many roles and have a lot of slashes, kind of like in the entertainment industry: comedian/actor/director/producer.  I could be a marketeer/blogger/photographer/cook/traveler/student.  The whole is meaningful work for me.  What are your slashes?

Photo from my desk – representing my slashes.

And after feeling the sense of relief that the career I choose does not have to be the love of my life, I started to trickle back to my Ns.

Narcissists classify.  And well, slashes are messy for Ns.  They don’t like it.  They don’t understand it.  From my earliest childhood my NM instilled in me the phrase:

“Jack of all trades, the master of none.”

I looked up this phrase and found that it exists in many languages.  And how untrue this universal phrase is.  To love multiple things and do lots of things means only you love a lot of things.  No one said I had to master photography.  Why?  I don’t have a desire to be professional, my only goal is to take better travel photos, capture the beauty I see when I travel.  Why do I have to master it?  Why does it have be a profession?

My NM would say this all the time.  I loved to play volleyball and dance when I was young.  But I also loved to read books and I was good at math.  She would say that to me all the time.  You are a jack of all trades, the master of none.  Because I didn’t choose one thing and master it?  Why?

Looking at the Ns in my friendships, they struggled with this.  I was labeled by one or two things and that was it.  It was their way of classifying me nice and neatly.  To look at me from other angles is multi-dimensional.  And for my Ns that wouldn’t work.

I remember with the 2 recent Ns in my life – Marian and Lydia – they often struggled with it. I don’t know how to explain it but if I mentioned other activities in my life they often seem to feel confronted and become competitive.  Or if they would hear about something I’ve been doing for a long time they would be annoyed and attack me – like I was keeping it a secret or something.  Their behaviours would be so mind-boggling.

Even I looked at a lot of things one-dimensionally.  Thinking what pays the bills has to be something I love was one-dimensional.  Thinking that if I loved something I had to make a profession of it even though there was no desire to – like photography or cooking.

I am beginning to find more and more comfort in the slashes and try and look at my friends in that way too.  We all have slashes.

xxT

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10 thoughts on “Myth: Love your job

  1. I don’t mean to belittle this post at all because it really does touch me in my own career pursuits.

    But now because of your 5th paragraph, the Air Supply song “I’m All Out of Love” is stuck in my head now. So, grr arg.

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  2. Really good post T. I agree that looking at your job as something that fulfils a purpose (i.e. paying the bills) is a more realistic and balanced way of looking at it. It ties in with the concept of your previous post about things being enough.

    I hadn’t thought of this concept of slashes and I really like it. In the high school system, as it was when I attended (I believe it’s been changed since, though I’m not up to date as to how it works now), after two years you had to choose between Arts or Sciences. I wanted to do Latin, Greek and Maths but this was not an option. Even now people are surprised when they find out that I love science as much as I love the arts. It just shows how this practice of classifying is so widespread. It’s like they want you in a “neat little package” and if you don’t fit, they don’t know what to do with you.
    I think this is one of the flaws of the Education System, that they make people specialise in one subject, and they become experts on that matter while having gaping holes in all other subjects. I think it’s very unbalanced.
    I’ve come to the same conclusion as you, that I only need to know enough about a subject to enable me to accomplish what I want to do. Your example of not having to master photography just to take travel photos is spot on.

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    • Thank you. When I read this research I felt a lot of relief and I thought that my job had to be the ideal job. And that adds a lot of criteria to searching for one or looking at the current one as ‘failing’ in some aspect. I think when my search objectives have changed – I want something that isn’t stressful and that allows me time to do the other stuff I enjoy. It is so funny when I realised that my search for the ideal was also masking my search for perfectionism.

      I have to admit that I have seen the surprise reaction from others when they learn that I like something else like when people are surprised that you like science as well. But I also have to admit that I have acted surprised towards my friends. I sub-consciously or maybe consciously as well have created nice packages for my friends. I don’t know why – have to explore my own behaviours further on that one.

      That is an excellent point about the Educational System. Are you referring to the high school exam in some European countries or the ‘major’ at the university level? I learned about an exam you take at 11 years (in the Netherlands and Belgium) where that decides the track for you – business, technical, science, etc. There is a part of society that forces you down a track and that makes it difficult to look at yourself and others in terms of multidimensionality – widespread indeed. xxT

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      • I am only familiar with the Spanish, Italian and British Systems. I was referring to University. I understand that there is a limit on how much you can learn about everything but generally speaking the Educational System is snobbish and narrow-minded. Not just for the fact that the Arts are considered inferior to the Sciences but also from the point of view that general skills are not taught at all, not unless you chose to go down a different route and even then you’d be limited to that one skill only. In Spain some degrees are considered to be almost second class, i.e. Psychology was viewed as not a “real degree” and to be for people who didn’t have enough points to get into Law, Medicine or Architecture.
        Kara xx

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      • I think the educational system adds to the way we can look at what we do in a narrow way. It is a part of why it is difficult to see people outside of what they have been educated in and what they do for a living. I have noticed a preference to certain degrees in Europe, especially when trying to look for jobs here. Psychology has been an area that I have noticed in the countries I have lived in to be taken as an inferior degree and not even worth understanding to how we approach situations in the work setting. xxT

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  3. This was a perfect timing blog post for me!

    Over the last month I’ve been reviewing my career and wondering if it’s right for me or whether I should do a whole dramatic career change. In the end, I do enjoy my job and it does pay the bills, so I think I realised what has been bothering me… at the end of each day I haven’t had the time or energy to focus on my slashes.

    I love ethical fashion, languages, science, knitting, nutrition, pilates, caring for children etc. But I feel like I am so passive in the way I consume them, I don’t really take the time (or have the confidence) to take part and be more active with all my slashes, I think that is going to have to change. 🙂

    Kell

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    • Glad it helped. I can understand the feeling after a day’s work not having time or energy to focus on the other things that we enjoy doing. Part of what I realised in my next job search is that I want a job that always me the time and energy to do the things that are important to me. And that changes how I search for the next job and helped me determine that I don’t have to change fields but rather position / type of job.

      I love what I learned from the book. The freedom to choose what is meaningful work for us is awesome and awe-inspiring! I love your slashes. 🙂

      xx T Reddy

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  4. Good morning. I definitely can relate to much of the frustration you have experienced in trying to sort out what kind of work to pursue and what to leave to a hobby. I can even remember the expression “jack of all trades, master of none”, from close to 50 years ago. Not to mention the pressure to stick with a profession after completing a degree. That’s even stronger when your wife supported you through the degree and you have small children to support.

    It takes great courage to persist until you find something or combination of things that you don’t hate. There are many recommended paths and they all involve hard work and risk. I encourage you to keep exploring and keep sharing with us what you are learning. We all can learn from each other.

    Dan Armishaw

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    • Hi Dan,

      Thank you for your comment. There is indeed pressure to stick to a degree and I feel that whatever we do to pay the bills and support the family has had to be aligned with something we love doing. The two do not have to be aligned and a lot of times that message is broadcasted and reinforced. It is a weight lifted off my shoulders.

      I have read your blog and it sheds light on my continued pursuit.

      x T Reddy

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