Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Definition By Career

Okay! Here it is! Finally! I finally took the time to actually write it and here it is. So without further ado...

I object! Why must I be defined? Who must define me? Why? How can you define a person? By what standard do you presume to judge me? Yes judge. In order to come to a finite conclusion on the nature of a human beings character, you must first judge him. (“Finite” and “Human Nature” are two things which are just not congruent) In this wholesale appraisal of a persons worth, what ideals shall you thrust upon him?
“God himself does not propose to judge man ‘till the end of his days. Why then should you or I?” – Jim Seelye
“Do not judge him, for he is only what you or I would be under similar circumstance.”
– Abraham Lincoln

What am I babbling about? Our societies obsession with the “career fulfillment” edict. I find that a very telling aspect of the cognizance of a society can be found in simple dialogue. That is, in day to day exchanges what is it that tops the list of conversation? More specifically, upon meeting a person for the first time the first exchange of pleasantries is generally names and tidings. What then is the second? Think about it for a second. What is the first thing you generally ask a person after learning their name?

Depending on the situation it could possibly be geographical, “where do you live” or “where are you from?” But more commonly, I find it to be “what do you do?” Meaning of course, what do you do for a living? What do you do for money? What is your career? Why this focus on the job title? This isn’t the only instance in which you find it. In describing a person to someone else who does not know them, their occupation often is among the first descriptors. In our society there is great emphasis placed on the job title because it is “a measure of the man.” Not only a measure, but the measure. Much can be said, and told, of a person by their profession; that’s what our society teaches us. “You are what you do, you do what you are.” I do not deny that this is true for some. In some, possibly many, cases this fits. Can there not be exceptions? Is this the case the majority of the time? I believe the opposite is true. I believe it to be the exception not the rule.

I resent being defined by what I do for money. My job is a necessity; it’s just that, a job. Simply a means to an end. The means being the requisite money for the end, a happy, fulfilling life outside of work. To me job is synonymous with work, not happiness. I know many people who are very successful in their careers, and they’ve earned it. For years they’ve worked incredibly hard. Head down plowing straight forward into the business world. They've climbed the ladder one rung at a time putting in the extra hours, taking on extra work loads, clocking the overtime, toiling late into the night finishing the project before it’s deadline. “Sorry guys, I can’t make it again this week. I’ve got this deadline to meet, I’m swamped.” Missing family events, neglecting the friends who’ve been there for them their whole life. I’ve been there myself. I had a so-called “proud” career. I had the “respectable” job. I made good money. I worked with decent people in an acceptable environment. And I was miserable! I had to argue with myself every morning whether I should get up and go to work. Sure I made good money and sure I had respect but I sure never got to enjoy either.

There are those, I suppose, who would say that obligations dictate workload. That you do not get to choose how hard you want, or don’t want, to work. You do what needs to be done to take care of the obligations in your life. To that end I concede that sacrificing one’s own happiness to provide for and/or enrich the lives of loved ones is indeed a noble pursuit. Even if it is a necessity. That, however, is a personal choice. (The lives we live are the culmination of the choices we’ve made) Just the same is my choice to worry about work as little as possible and concentrate my efforts and ambitions on other areas of my life. That mentality and that choice will perhaps change at some point in my life, however, regardless it should be my choice. I should not have to answer for it. I should not be made to feel inferior because the work that I perform in exchange for monetary gain is not perceived by popular culture to be as meritorious or consequential as another man. An honest days work for an honest days pay should certainly level the playing field.

We make judgements of people everyday based solely on their job title. We, as a society and a culture, believe that the position of employment held by a man speaks directly to the core of his character. That he performs that work because that is the type of person he is. Never taking into consideration that perhaps that is not who he is, but simply the situation he is in. Circumstance, certainly, can and has dictated the position of man in the past and will, undoubtedly, again in the future. Perhaps there are motives or factors involved which we are not aware of. Conceivably his belief system may require much less from his employment than others do. Should he be judged for that?

In the end we all have a job and perform work for one reason; money. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, the bread winners of the world come home at the end of the day having put in their time for a days wage. We all have to live, breathe, and eat and to do that in this society we acquire certain bills and debts. We all have to pay those bills and debts and we all have to make choices along the way. What type of lifestyle do you wish to pursue? This is one of those choices. Am I wrong for choosing a lifestyle so far removed from the choice you have made? Am I to be persecuted for that choice? Should I not be allowed that choice? Should you?

Choice and freedom of choice is the true basis of our society. Career choices, however, are something we are forced into as mere children. Very early in our lives we are urged, coerced, and forced into forging the ideals we are expected to carry throughout our lives. As young men and women we are made to decide the breadth and width of our existence here on earth. We are given tests and guided this way or that. Certain traits may or may not be cultivated depending on the perception of those in the education system we came through. (That is a topic for a whole other discussion. See Definition By Counselor.) At any rate it is difficult, at best, to make such a monumental decision at any age besides at such a young, immature, inexperienced stage of life. Many spend the remainder of their lives trying to fulfill this expectation of grandeur and splendid sweet satisfaction derived from their career.

I have a separate set of expectations from my career. In my life grandeur, illustrious, admirable, and satisfaction are replaced by words like contentment, comfort, serenity, and security. I hope to find the previous in my life at home with my friends and family. I don’t need to find it from a man or a company who’s only real tie to me is a weak contract of agreement through which we trade services for capital gain. A contract which can be severed at any time by either party for any, or no, reason at all. That’s not the kind of stability, or instability rather, in which I wish to invest my time or effort.

In years to come as I sit on the front porch of my life reflecting on the decisions I’ve made and taking stock of the time I’ve been granted here on earth, I hope I find that I’ve spent it well. That I’ve not squandered this opportunity for happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction. I can say one thing with utmost certainty, I will not look back and wish I had spent more time at work. I just hope I don’t regret the choices that I’ve made. I wish the same to you, may you all find happiness in what ever choices you make for your life and lifestyle. As for me, I’ll continue to seek my exultation here on this little rock called earth and in doing so act out my part of this grand symphony of life we call humanity.


At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could make a comment relative to the subject matter, but I personally don't care enough about what people think of me and my chosen career to give it a second thought.

I will however say this...

If you polished your grammar skills, you could submit your articles to various publications. Have you ever thought about being a writer?

Your curiosity keeps you interested in a variety of subjects thereby constantly providing you with an abundance of material. Think about it. You could explore a million and one opportunities and write about all of them and even get paid in the process.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Musings of a Demented Mind said...

Wow, thank you for the vote of confidence. I do, indeed, need to brush up on my grammar skills and have been wanting to do so for quite some time. That’s partly what this blog is about. Practice makes perfect. Now I just need to remember the rules I need to be practicing. Haha. But thank you, that's a great compliment.


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