As an author, I bear the burden of living with an observing eye that never stops seeing the world a little differently than most people. I don’t look at trees in a park; I don’t see boats on a lake.
I see the setting for my next story instead.
It’s the same with people. I see emotions before I see anything else. It’s because of this keen awareness to personality quirks that I notice the deeper details. I don’t take circumstances at face value.
This brings me to this blog’s message.
It was a weekday morning. I was living in a city located close to one of the larger employers in the area. Traffic to get off the highway to this massive employer was backed up (as always) with commuters waiting to clock in. Somedays this line would back up at least a mile or two in a massive bottleneck.
I was driving the opposite direction, definitely a more free-flowing journey. I don’t even remember what brought me to that area that particular morning, but I saw something that struck me, or rather something I didn’t see– I didn’t see a single commuter smiling, or who looked the least bit happy to be going to work.
Another time, some years later, I observed the same phenomenon at another employer. This time, I was inside one of the buildings. I worked there, off and on in that location, for a while. And I never saw a single person smile.
Why do we stay in jobs we hate? Of course one of the obvious reasons is fear of change. But I think it runs much, much deeper than that.
I think we stay in jobs that make us miserable because we believe we are supposed to do just that, stay miserable. We see it all the time in the modern era, memes talking out crappy Mondays, finally hump-days, and thank God it’s Fridays. We’ve been conditioned to believe we must drudge our way from Monday through Friday and, of course, get the Sunday evening blues.
Society has engrained in us this unwritten notion that work is something we loathe; therefore, we don’t strive to find jobs that make us happy. God forbid we follow a dream. It’s unnatural. Normal people don’t do that. For those who do achieve happiness and/or success, they got lucky. Period.
But that isn’t true. The ones who are happy in this life are the ones who found their purpose and put it into play (more on purpose in the next blog).
We feel guilty for leaving a good, stable job if only because we don’t like it. For the few people who do leave their jobs, they simply find a new job to hate. It might pay more, but it doesn’t provide a single dividend of happiness. If we are fortunate to stumble upon a 9 to 5 that doesn’t feel like a 9 to 5, something is wrong. We wait, always on guard for the misery to kick in.
It is okay for all of us find careers that make us happy, that doesn’t feel like work. We just need to put in the work to get there.
Now don’t take this to the extreme. None of us need to wake up tomorrow and quit jobs and head off to Hollywood. Make a plan, make two of them, make three of them. Each one of us needs to search within and find out what we really want to do in life and research how to get there in the best way for ourselves and the people who depend on us. Most of us already know what our hearts want. We just have to be smart about obtaining it.
In closing, remember the words of George Eliot:
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”