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A story did the rounds over in America recently. It told of the case of an established court typist who received termination of employment due to repeatedly typing “I hate my job” as opposed to accurately recording the ever-important dialogue taking place within the court room. Aside from its hard-to-believe and almost comic nature, this story both caught my attention and generally resonated well in its posing of the wider question: do people in the working world really enjoy their jobs?
In an idealised and rose-tinted view of society as a whole, one would like to think that, following the completion of full-time education, the path of long term careers is one that presents refreshing challenges, affords constant freedom of creative expression, and is unwaveringly enjoyable. The miserly case of the now jobless typist, however, starkly pops our optimistic bubble. In a supplementary comment piece, courtesy of the Guardian, it emerged that most people do in fact hate their jobs, but do not have the courage to tell their boss or find a new one altogether.
It is this notion which stands as both disheartening and also quite discomposing. Are the vast majority of us really destined to be entrapped in a job that we neither enjoy nor really want to do? Will it merely come down to the cold, hard figures of the salary that dictate the profession to which we will sell our souls – a minor sacrifice to the corporate giants? In weighing this up, the frequently quoted saying, often said to derive from the teachings of Confucius, “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, can offer some understanding. But like most things, the bare fundamentals come down to the specific individual in question.
Some people may be content to use their talents in a job that bears them no pleasure, yet compensates them with vastly greater-than-average salaries. Likewise, others may stand as the complete polar opposite, happy to undertake a job they truly love, irrespective of the fact that they may one day have to justify its low income return. To adopt a tone of trepidation and perhaps even morbidity, the average human lifespan in developed countries today is reaching heights around the 80 year mark. With that in mind, do we really want to spend about half of this precious time captive in a job during which we count down the seconds until the days end?
As a soon-to-be-graduating university student, these questions are much more than merely thought-provoking muses. They are, rather, the platform upon which the angel and the devil fight for my future, the former representing the bravery of biting the bullet and seeking a job of maximum enjoyment regardless of prestige, the latter standing as a soul-sapping 9-till-5 of dreary torment. Indeed, the economy has been precarious at best of times, and throwing around assertions that people should seek different jobs out of unhappiness could be perceived as both naïve and lacking in knowledge of the vocational world. But how many years of dejection are people really willing to endure, particularly if they feel their talents are simply being put to waste?
It could be argued that many jobs out there right now are of course dull, tedious and incredibly unwelcome. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that they exist simply because they have to be done. These jobs construct the very fibre of our everyday life, often going bitterly unnoticed and undervalued. But is it wrong to desire something more stimulating, something that actually provides exhilaration when waking up in the morning? I would strongly argue not.
Again, it comes down to the type of person you are, your overall motives in life and a whole culmination of other idiosyncrasies. It is all too easy, being a supposedly care-free university student, to cast opinions upon the intricacies of employment and the world of lifestyle careers. On a personal level however, I am sure that a future job providing no direct outlet, inspiration, or general aptitude for further progression, is not a career I would remain in for long.