A while ago I posted a few questions to my Instagram story about careers, as I struggled to make a difficult career-related decision myself. You guys responded en masse and with such thoughtful and interesting answers that I simply had to write up a post rather than just continue making ridiculously long Instagram stories with all your responses. Career is an interesting topic for me for several reasons: one, it’s not something which is discussed a whole lot for women in my very specific micro-culture’s group, and two, my personality is not prone to climbing the traditional career ladder but obviously I still need to be successful enough to support my modest lifestyle in a very expensive city. And so I find my way as I go, and ask you guys questions on Instagram. So thanks for that.
I posed several questions to you all, and here’s what you had to say:
Do you like your job? Not that you never have bad days, but do you mostly enjoy going to work?
More than half of you said you like your job for the most part. Not lovelovelove, but at least you liked it enough to not dread going to work.
Do you think it’s important to like your job, or is this merely a millennial, snowflakey privilege we’ve turned into a right?
I was very interested in the answer to this question, because I’m still a little unsure myself what I think about it. I think being faithful in difficult situations is so important, but at the time I was asking these questions, I was at a work situation that was stressing me so much I was getting sick on my stomach and popping out gray hairs faster than ever before in my life. On the other hand, I am of the opinion that the things we really enjoy doing can be a good indication of what God is calling us to. Where to find the balance?
There were a few of you guys (ahem, you know who you are) that took a little too much delight in calling me a snowflake- I could feel your glee oozing through my screen as you selected that option on my survey- but by and large you mostly replied that it is important to like your job. Do you agree?
If you like your job, what about it makes you feel happy/fulfilled. And if you don’t, why not?
“Full time Mom. Love it mostly and hate it some too.” One mom mentioned that a “real job” would perhaps make her feel more appreciated. Another mom said she feels seen and valued.
“I like the mixture of manual labor and problem solving. I also like that it’s very practical.”
“Witnessing the healing of body and spirit after surgery or cardiac intervention is a delight.”
Some of you mentioned that you value flexibility, freedom, and enough pay that you can travel, others said that coworkers can make or break a job. I definitely agree with the coworker bit; some of the best work situations I’ve ever had were because of great coworkers.
Mostly, you all seem to like your jobs if they are helping people in some way, fulfilling your calling, making a difference, or you are working with good people.
Do you have any career regrets or decisions you’re really happy about which you’d like to share?
You guys said that you regretted not leaving jobs which you hated, or which weren’t aiding you in your long-term career goals. One of you worked for too little money, and another wished you had known you had the freedom to do something different and let creativity win a bit more.
Leaving a job too hastily, not getting a degree, and starting at twenty instead of thirty were regrets, but a couple of you mentioned that even with regrets, you’ve seen how your life path has all worked together to shape who you are and where you are today. That’s so true, and something I often think when I analyze my past decisions.
Why do you think salary is such an incredibly private thing in our culture? Or do you feel comfortable discussing what you earn with your friends?
A couple of you said you’ve wondered the same thing, or that you have no issue saying what you make, or even that you know what most of your friends make. Really?! I’m taking a wild shot in the dark and guessing that this person and all his friends work in a barn shop.
One person said she’s always struggled with it because A. she has that Mennonite modesty, and B. she has an (irrational) fear of people telling her she isn’t worth what she’s being paid.
Another said that it may be because although we decide our value on our wages, sometimes the most valuable people such as teachers don’t get paid enough.
Someone thought it provides protection from “judgey weeds” who think you should be doing things differently, and another thought that people who are open about their incomes tend to usually be morons.
One employee said it was promoted by employers to hide unfair practices and underpaying, and one employer said it’s to avoid jealousy and other such issues. Interesting contrast, what do you think?
Apparently culture plays a big part- it was mentioned that it may be largely a conservative/southern thing. But in Belize it seems people will ask each other and whoop and holler if they are the one who makes more. I guess I’d like to see a conservative southerner and a Belizean in the same room. Also it is fascinating that it is such an American thing to promptly ask people what they do for work when you meet them (not all cultures do this, and in some you never ask unless you’re already know them well), but yet the price of our work remains, by and large, a private matter.
According to you all though, the largest issue is identity. “I am worth what I am paid.” And who wants to air that to the world? People don’t want to be pitied or taken advantage of, and they don’t want to appear as bragging if they make plenty.
So there you have it. I started this conversation months ago, long before the crisis where so many people lost their livelihood and just having a job that pays enough to cover your bills is a big blessing. However, I’m still mulling over these things as I continue to figure out my own career path, and I would like to hear what you would add to this conversation.
A Year Ago:
Two Years Ago:
Three Years Ago:
The Single Years of the Good Mennonite Girl (still my most popular post. Why, guys?)
Four Years Ago:
New York, New York (My touristy posts from my long-ago visits here amuse me, I must say.)