In Defense of Living for the Weekend
I entered the workplace inspired, cheery, and ready to leave my mark on the world. I completely believed that a good job means a good life.
I entered the workplace like many people right out of college — inspired, cheery, and ready to leave my mark on the world. Like so many others, I fell for the lie on which employment is built: a good job means a good life. To get that illustrious good job, you need to do well in school.
I’ve always had a strong work ethic probably stemming from my upbringing. My grandmother balanced multiple jobs to make rent in a two-bedroom apartment for my family when I was younger. She didn’t work the most prestigious jobs — for one of her jobs, been a store greeter for Sam’s Club for the past 20 years. But she takes pride in what she has done and she does it to the best of her ability.
In school, my teachers all emphasized the important of finding a high paying job. They challenged me to think more about what would make me the most money and focus on those things. It’s an unspoken rule among talented inner-city kids. If someone asks you what you want to do, you say the thing that pays the most. Teachers take notice. In a world where some kids have little life prospects, those who have high ambitions get the most attention.
And so when I got to college, I knew what I wanted to do. I spent countless hours researching a job that I thought I would love. By some grace of Google, Buzzfeed quizzes, and my limited interaction with industry people, I settled on Human Resources. From that point on, nothing would stop me from achieving my goal. I placed my faith completely in the idea that achieving this role would give me prestige and purpose.
Truthfully, what drew me to Human Resources was the appeal for power. When I was seeking internships, I got countless rejection letters. The one thing they had in common was an HR person promising to keep my resume on file. They must have all the power, I thought. I mean, how else would they be standing in between me and the money.
Strange things happen when you realize you’ve getting a large percentage of your life trying to achieve a job and then you get it. That’s what happened to me. I struggled to find meaning in my first job. I fought to convince myself that my hard work was all worth it. That I just had to work harder, longer, to get that sense of fulfillment I had expected.
On the other hand, I was making money. But at a certain point, I didn’t even realize it any more. Once I could afford the things I wanted and needed. I stopped checking my accounts. Aside from rebalancing my loans and credit card debt and building my credit score. Back when I wasn’t sure if I had enough money, I’d stare at my bank account and run the numbers over and over again, trying to make it work. Now I just assume it’s probably in there and if it’s not, do I really need it?
In Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming,” she talks about telling her mom that she wants to quit her job.
“So I shared with her in the car: I’m just not happy. I don’t feel my passion,” Michelle Obama wrote. “And my mother — my uninvolved, live-and-let-live mother — said, ‘Make the money, worry about being happy later.’ I was like [gulps], Oh. OK. Because how indulgent that must have felt to my mother.”
“When she said that, I thought, Wow — what — where did I come from, with all my luxury and wanting my passion? The luxury to even be able to decide — when she didn’t get to go back to work and start finding herself until after she got us into high school. So, yes. It was hard.”
This is the dilemma we face: we are all searching for some semblance of purpose. To find this, we need to have passion for what we do. The sad truth is that we won’t all find it entirely in our day jobs. We may get some parts of it from our day jobs, but we also need to remember that what we do outside of work still matters. It’s also important to remember that we are in a time where you’re not locked into a particular job. It is ok to leave a job you’re not happy with and try something new. Not everyone will understand why you need to go. But knowing that you only have one life and that you will spend most of it working, don’t you deserve to be a little passionate about the work you do?
I’m a few years in the workplace now and I must say that I get fulfillment from my job. But I also get great fulfillment from what I do outside of work. My weekends are my time to write, to dance, and to make my life what I want it to be. I’ve set boundaries between what is my time and what is my company’s. I believe that I do a better job at work because in some ways, I live for the weekend. I accept that there is so much more to life than what happens in any office building. This makes me more productive and probably happier too. But the moment I lose my passion, I’ll be ready to make a move. After all, a good job is only as good as the lives of those who work it.
Thanks for reading…