Recently, I’ve had quite a few conversations and even read a few articles about the disconnect between people’s dream jobs and what’s available in the job market. It seems to be a hot topic right now and something I think that resonates with a lot of people, especially 20-somethings who are relatively new to the workforce, so I thought I’d share my rambles with you guys and get your thoughts.
I remember thinking when I was in undergrad that I would go to grad school, get my master’s degree, and then it would be easy to find a job that I was passionate about and in my field. Well, that’s not exactly what happened. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my job (I’m working in public health research (my field), I have responsibilities, I’m a valued employee, I like my coworkers and my boss etc..), but if you had asked me two years ago if I thought I’d be doing what I do now, I wouldn’t have believed you.
You see, to do what I really want to do, I need to go back to school and get a degree that is going to take upwards of 5 years to complete. While it seems like going back to school is no-brainer, I’m not sure I’m ready to go back yet. For the first time in my life, I’m working to live, not living to work. I have so few responsibilities outside of the office (just Sonic, really) that it’s easy for me to prioritize having fun, vacations, and running right now.
On occasion however, I start to feel guilty about not being ready to go back to school. I wonder if there’s something wrong with me that’s making me less determined than other people. In reality though, thinking this way is crazy. Even if I decide never to go back to school, I’ll be just fine. I have two degrees and work experience and while the job market is tough (I’m not trying to discredit that), I’d be able to find something to do, even if I wouldn’t be passionate about the work or even really like the job.
And you know what? Many, many, many people have jobs that they’re not passionate about. It may be because their passions just don’t fall into typical job categories or because there are no opportunities available in that field (or better ones in a different field). Further, some people may not want to mix their passions with work so they choose to do something else and pursue their interests in their free time. All of these scenarios are totally acceptable and my insecurities (and those I see in my peers) make me wonder when the idea of working to live started to be considered inferior to living to work.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to only work between the hours of 9-5. There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to work long hours or weekends because you absolutely love your job. Everyone is different and interests and needs change over time so why do we put so much pressure on young adults to get as much schooling as possible, find the perfect job, and become immediately successful?
Thinking about these issues has reminded me that life is about the journey and experiences not the destination. I’m almost positive that I will end up back in school at some point but in the meantime I’ve promised myself that I will not feel guilty for enjoying the live to work balance I’m currently experiencing. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime period for me and I plan on enjoying it to the fullest (or at least working on convincing myself not to feel guilty…).
Thoughts on this topic?
Do you live to work or work to live?