You studied hard, now do your f^*king job!
I know, the title of this article sounds aggressive — its supposed to be. I am channeling energy from what a manger once said in front of me. We were several juniors on a project all working in different sub-project teams. Some of us were supported by great management and so our work was up to scratch. Others however were not so lucky. The lead manager spent a week reviewing all the different work streams and suddenly had an outburst towards the pieces of work that were sub-standard:
She yelled out in frustration, “I don’t understand why you can’t do your fucking job”.
She didn’t say it to anyone directly just towards the pieces of paper in front of her. Its a harsh thing to hear but funnily enough the phrase stuck with me for over two years and I don’t think I will ever forget it. I have spent so much time on social media (Instagram and Medium specifically) feeling like I wish I had studied something else and had a different job, a different career, essentially a different life.
I am from South Africa and we are just coming out of our winter. As the metaphorical ices thaws and flowers begin to blossom, I can’t help but feel silly for letting social media and all you marketing gurus sell me on a total career change just from words and Instagram stories.
I got hooked on Medium (and paid for membership) earlier this year. I read so many articles about all these freelancers and how they quit the nine to five to live a dream different to what they parents had. They left their cities, countries, friendship groups. They sold cars, houses, emptied out bank accounts but written so eloquently you can’t help but feel you are some loser for going to work for ‘the man’ and having to pay big-city rent at the end of each month. Social media became addictive for me from March to June 2018. I was making plans to learn how to become a blogger, how to earn money as a freelance writer, how to live anywhere but at home. All of these, great goals, only if you are not running!
The ‘Runaway Bride’ can so easily sum up my life — I ran from activities that were too difficult in school, I ran from amazing grades towards adolescent distractions, I ran from tough global consultancy, I even ran away from my fiance once upon a time. Hi, my name is Ravs and I am a runner.
You see, its easy to quit your day job to follow a passion or a dream but if you are quitting because your current job is too difficult, you don’t like the pay, you don’t get enough acknowledgement for the “amazing work” you do or you would rather be a president of your own company than an intern/associate of someone else’s. Then you go on to make yourself believe that you are semi-decent at a hobby or trade (in my case it’s cooking) and believe you could blog about this full time and get paid. Then you, like me, are a runner. At some point we need to stop running and in the wise words of my once-manager “Do your fucking job”. These are all great reasons to leave a job/ career you are not passionate about but if you had a reason for going into the career that you did (in my case it was for environmental and social justice) then don’t quit because of the above reasons. Bolt yourself firmly on the ground, develop your skills, learn from those in the game longer than you, and then soar to new career heights.
I work as an advisory consultant and my busiest time of year is the whole winter period in South Africa. It’s long, laborious, boring-AF work. Last year was my first year and I performed dismally. Last year I constantly told myself “what the fuck am I doing with my life?”, “how did I think that I was cut out to be in this career?”. So you can imagine the reservations I had walking into this project second time round. I was crazy-nervous and my boss was reviewing my performance given that this would be my second time on the project: “Has Ravs improved?” Long story short — I had improved and it felt amazing! I was so happy that I worked hard, showed commitment and determination and hacked at a problem only to come out the other end with both my soft and technical skills being further developed.
I stopped and asked myself, “If I am always running, how would I find out if I am passionate about my job? How would I ever learn?” You can’t try ride a bike once or twice, fall off, walk away and never ride again.
It was in that moment that I realised, I actually enjoy this daunting, laborious project and could happily spend the next few years doing it. I am happy because it is challenging but also because I calmed myself, gathered tools to solve the problem and then did my fucking job. Because I did my job sincerely, I did it to prove to myself that I could do it, this was acknowledged by my boss. But even if it wasn’t, I knew I had made a positive impact on the project — I had conviction in my actions.
I am not a media guru, I am not a freelancer, I am just a girl standing in front of a Medium readership offering a different perspective: As social media platforms intrinsically encourage us to run away from our traditional jobs… I am saying lets work towards them.
My only suggestion is that we carve out a less traditional lifestyle, one that answers the question “who am I?” and then do that outside of the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
Be unapologetic for your traditional job, embrace it…then on the weekends or in your evenings… Netflix less and blog, vlog, journal your heart out.
I found this method very therapeutic and it helped me apply the answer to the question “who am I?” in my career.
Because I do work 9am — 5pm Monday to Friday, my website is not ready yet but when it is you can read more of my “off-beat” perspectives there. In the meantime, I am using this space as my personal ranting outlet, but if you can relate then give me a clap or two. Sending light and love your way. Peace!