Take Two #47: Career-less
This week has been intense for me. A hectic-crazy-busy (it's a word, I swear) real world trial by fire kind of week, and it won't be stopping for anything as mundane as the weekend. I mean, seriously, I thought I was busy before taking on another job. Let's just say I'm gaining a healthy respect for all of you 50-60+ hours/week workers out there. That and I'm beginning to understand why parents never have time for social lives outside of work and family.
It's not just the job, it's the jobs. Emphasis on the 's.' Add onto that any kind of self-fulfilling activity or hobby (those things I'm still referring to in my head as extracurricular activities) and the barest minimum of social requirements and you barely have time to breathe! Things used to be simpler, or so I'm told. You would go to school, finish school, pick your one job, let said job consume your life and become synonymous with your identity, maybe have a social activity, and then consider starting a family once everything else had settled into its routine. Okay sure, this isn't exactly how it was for the whole boomer and post-boomer generations, but the idea remains. Life, particularly that bit known as 'making a living,' used to be simpler.
Nowadays, very few of us actually have 'careers.' We might want careers, but the likelihood of us getting what we want anytime soon is dauntingly slim. So in the meantime we work multiple jobs, doing what we have to to make ends meet. I, for example, work a couple part time jobs, write this column, run my online etsy store, clean a couple buildings, consign clothing and do data entry for my dad. Not to mention doing any other odd jobs that pop up around the neighborhood or family. One of my coworkers helps manage the store I work at, runs her own vintage clothing resale business, sells her jewelry at lots of local shops and is currently working with a woman who is trying to start her own jewelry line.
This is fairly standard for my age demographic. We don't just have one iron in the fire, we throw in the whole smithy. Managed adequately, this works surprisingly well. Remember, mine is the generation facing the highest credit card and student loan debt ever with high unemployment rates and an extreme case of over-qualified acting as the pretty bow on top. Breaking the career tradition is a necessary initiative. My friends and I have even started referring to our generation as the new hippies. With so much coming down on our heads we can either get worked up about it or roll with the punches and adapt. So we go with the flow and do what we have to to stay on track. For me, the hardest element has been that last part, staying on track.
I'm a very goal oriented person. School worked well for me for blatant reasons. After I first graduated, I thought I knew where I was going. I had constructed a very clear path for myself based on my experiences in college. Turns out the real world is a much bigger pond with much more complex rules than a college campus. Surprise, right? This was where I began to stagnate, tread water, panic – whatever phrase you want to use. What I eventually learned is this multi-tasking approach to life, but it took me near another year to actually make any headway using it.
See, the secret is making sure that everything you're doing is actually something you want to be doing. Again, fairly obvious, I know. Yet it's something that took me forever to figure out. Living a multi-tasker's existence is flexible and bohemian and very conducive to blending your passion with 'making a living.' It's also very draining. Keeping so many things straight at once is exhausting! So if you're like me with places to go and people to see, it's silly to cram things into your regiment that don't further any of your goals – even if that goal is as simple as taking an hour a day to relax and do nothing.
I guess my rambling point of the week is that life doesn't have to be about one-stop shopping, and you're not a failure if your first (or tenth) plan of attack doesn't go the way you planned. The route to prosperity and happiness will always be full of detours, dead ends and unexpected forks in the road. My generation grew into this multi-tasking way of life, but its fluid nature has something to offer everyone. A little bit of flexibility goes a long way.