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> Does your job define you?, Damn the man!
Matthew
post Aug 29 2005, 09:20 PM
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It's been bothering me a while, but, does what we do to earn a buck really matter?
In my work I deal with an awful lot of aggresive and rude people... and after many years find my tolerance for it to be slipping away...
So, in short, is what we do important?
Is someone who does a demeaning job somehow less, than say, a doctor?
Or, is it better to pass your days getting by, accepting that working in a video store is as good as it gets?
Does our own morality play a part in what we choose to do or is cold hard cash what we want?
Should our job be a vocation or simply a means to an end?
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Barbarella
post Aug 29 2005, 09:50 PM
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This is a tough one. I think your chosen career defines you, not neccesarily your particular job.

I'm a professional makeup artist. I always wanted to be one, and I've faithfully persued this career for the last 6 years of my life. I get work because I'm good at what I do, and I'm good at it because I'm passionate about it. Makeup defines who I am, because it's my "art" form, it's how I express myself and it pleases me, and even if I wasn't a makeup artist, it'd be a hobby. Even if I was just collecting it!

However, a lot of this career is about ass kissing and who you know unless you've been around a good 10 years or more, so my jobs aren't always makeup related. Luckily, when they are, I make a... buttload of cash. However, being of little experience required, work isn't as steady as I'd like it to be, though my few customers(including the governor's wife) are faithful. Morality plays no part in this really, I do it because if I wasnt happy with my chosen profession, I'd be miserable with everything else in life. It effects my whole well-being. Sure, cold hard cash is what most people want, because it's so neccesary to survive in this world... so sure, I want money. But you know what? I do this because it makes ME happy and it happens to be enough to get me by.

I've taken to working nights at a bar. This is a job. Does it define me? No, not really. I do it for money, though I do enjoy night life and talking to lots of people. It's just not ME, you know? I'm not "Jen, the bartender". I'm "Jen, the artist. The MAKEUP Artist."

I think what we do is important in this society because it's so shallow that most people won't give you the time of day to find out who you REALLY are. So yes, I suppose, it really DOES matter what your job title is, because society says so. I don't think it should be a means to an end, though... nor do I think you should EVER accept that anything is as good as it gets. Especially if you want more. It takes a lot of hard work, but it's always worth it to persue your dreams within perfect reason. And in a world where people are celebrities making millions for no apparent reason, many things are in reason.

Hope this makes sense. I like to think I make sense, but I know I don't sometimes. tongue.gif
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PsychWardMike
post Aug 29 2005, 10:15 PM
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If my job defines me, than I am perennially without definition. I have no job. However, if my intended career counts (movie and video game scorer and writer) then I'd say yeah, they do. Music and writing are such huge parts of my personality that they have to define me.


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Mata
post Aug 29 2005, 10:43 PM
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I think it very much depends on your outlook on life.

For me, my job has always been a way to earn money to fund other things that I do. As I've said before, when I started this website I was busking on the highstreet to earn a bit more money to be getting on with. That wasn't nice work, but it didn't define who I was. I was also working on a switchboard, and again that didn't define me, because in my spare time the money that I made doing that meant that I could continue my PhD, making animations, painting, sewing funky coats, and generally doing the things that help define who I am.

It's a lot of hard-earned luck that has made it possible that I can now scrape a living doing the things that I enjoy. I made more money before, but I was working for other people. Now I do the things I enjoy the most almost all the time. My job never defined who I was, and now I have defined my job. Like I say, there is some luck there, but there's been a lot of hard work along the way to earn those lucky breaks.

If the internet was taken out of the equation then life might be different. It's because I can share the things that I love, and to some extent my attitudes to life, that makes it worthwhile. Without that aspect of sharing I don't think I'd enjoy it as much.

To put this in perspective, there's a chap I occasionally talk to in the pub. He's a nice guy, intelligent and with a high-paying job at a very well known electronics company. In many respects we're very similar, to the point where he insists I should apply to his company and get a high-paying job in their research department. Maybe I will someday, but I just don't know. I like working for myself. He says that he was in a similar position to me a few years ago and he decided that he was going to screw his morals and just go out and make money... He's managed that, but talking to him it just sounds like he's telling himself that he's happy, he doesn't actually seem to really convey it. That's a person who's been defined by their job. He's got loads of money and career prospects, but he's not happy.

I think that eventually it comes down to this: your job only defines you if you allow it to. It's nothing to do with intelligence, prospects, or money and it's all down to finding a purpose for what you are doing that is outside work. I always worked to support my website, studies, and art. That was the purpose of it. If you find a job you love then it can be self-fulfilling, like what I do now, but if you feel your job defines you and you don't like it then it's time to find things to do outside of it to satisfy you.


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Kitty
post Aug 29 2005, 11:26 PM
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I think I agree with what Mata said. When I think of a job, I try to think of something that I'd like to do so I'm not compleatly miserable when I have to go to work, but I dont do something that defines me. I also think of convenience. Recently I've been wanting to work at the golf course in my neighborhood. If I were to get the job I'd mostly be washing golf carts and collecting golf carts and lots of stuff to do with golf carts. This wouldnt mean that all I'm suitable for is washing and collecting golf carts though. I want the job because its conveniently a minutes bike ride away and pays a bit above minimum wage. Also, I like greeting people and chatting a bit and watching people alot. But the job doesnt force me to greet people and chat, its just nice to have someone thats handing you their cart to be nice and smile instead of scowl.

Another point between Dad's. I was talking to one of my friend's dad about my Dad's job. My dad works at a big military site and he's one of the computer men. Basically he's in charge of making sure no one is hacking into the company's network. To do this he gets to sit in a quite little office with a computer and stare at stats most of the day. This job gets verryyy boring after a while. My dad has this job because he's qualified for it. He took the classes that enabled him to be good at this job, the company didnt make him take classes so he could have the job. Now, my Friend's dad was upset when I told him that my dad wanted to quit and get a new job. He was upset because my dad gets paid significantly more than he does and I suppose he felt like my dad was throwing away such a good opportunity. At this point I think the job is starting to define my friend's dad. He would love to have the job because of the money and I could see him taking classes so he could have that job.

Theres a point where you're changing yourself too much to have a certain job. And I think when it starts to become about money, and when your job starts to make you take certain classes so you're more qualified for them, I think thats when your job starts to define you because they're starting to mold you to their image.


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MistressAlti
post Aug 30 2005, 12:46 AM
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I sure hope it doesn't, because then being a business major almost guarantees that I'll be a stuffy, rich brat for the rest of my life. Ew.
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CommieBastard
post Aug 30 2005, 08:25 AM
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I think that what you do defines you. If that's also your job - the activity that enables you to enjoy little luxuries like food, water, electricity and a place to live - well, bully for you, I guess.


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artist.unknown
post Aug 30 2005, 08:22 PM
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My job's not paradise, but the experience has done a great deal for me. When I hated my job, it gave me a rather dour outlook on life. I love my job now. I lived in the forest, I work nearly exclusively with young, intelligent, enthusiastic people who share my concern for the environment and peace, I can talk about world events and literature with people who are just as interested as me. It's sort of like a commune. Even if the world outside isn't that stimulating and comforting, you take that inner peace with you into the rest of your life. Maybe learning to spontaneously sing Kumbaya and sway isn't useful, but the mindset does define part of who I am and what I stand for.


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Faerieryn
post Aug 30 2005, 09:05 PM
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This has always interested me. I teach English in secondary school. This atomaitcally makes people look at me as if I a) have a second head cool.gif should be in a mental insitution or c) must have the patience of a saint. None of these apply. When asked what I do I respond either "I'm an English teacher" or "I teach English" but I still consider myself to be a singer. I have never been paid to sing or had any outlet for my singing other than my time spent at university. People (professional singers included) tell me that I could go professional but I just don't have the will power to sit around in a supermarket job and work my ass off at professional singing in my "spare" time. My life will always be singing and some day I will do it as a career. In the meantime I am a teacher.
Am I babbling? Probably...


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Jaq
post Aug 31 2005, 07:08 PM
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QUOTE (Faerieryn @ Aug 30 2005, 03:05 PM)
This has always interested me. I teach English in secondary school. This atomaitcally makes people look at me as if I a) have a second head cool.gif should be in a mental insitution or c) must have the patience of a saint. None of these apply. When asked what I do I respond either "I'm an English teacher" or "I teach English" but I still consider myself to be a singer. I have never been paid to sing or had any outlet for my singing other than my time spent at university. People (professional singers included) tell me that I could go professional but I just don't have the will power to sit around in a supermarket job and work my ass off at professional singing in my "spare" time. My life will always be singing and some day I will do it as a career. In the meantime I am a teacher.
Am I babbling? Probably...
*



Alright... so, let me get this straight. You don't like being a teacher, or at the very least you're not passionate about it and you want to do something else. There are plenty of people who want to be teachers but because people like you are taking up the jobs, until something better comes along (that you're not really working towards, but merely sitting on your ass and wishing for it and whining when you don't get the thing you're not working towards) these people don't or can't get the job that you don't really want. Is that right?

I don't know about England, but I know in Canada the competition to get into teacher's college is fierce and the job market is just as competitive. Why are you doing something that you don't really enjoy and putting other people out of work?

I had teachers like you in secondary school. They seemed to be mostly history and English teachers. They didn't want to be there, they did everything half assed, and the students snickered about them behind their backs. I actually had a history teacher tell me that the only reason he was teaching history was because he failed out of engineering. I hated these teachers. Now I just think of them as sad souls who got stuck in the wrong career because they were too lazy or afraid to succeed in their career of choice, but then they were half an annoyance and half a sad joke to me and my friends.

I don't know if you do things half-assed, but if this is your attitude towards teaching in general, I'm just going to take a wild stab in the dark and assume that you do things a bit shoddily.

edit: you spelled 'automatically' wrong.


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trunks_girl26
post Aug 31 2005, 08:04 PM
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QUOTE (Faerieryn @ Aug 30 2005, 09:05 PM)
This has always interested me. I teach English in secondary school. This atomaitcally makes people look at me as if I a) have a second head cool.gif should be in a mental insitution or c) must have the patience of a saint. None of these apply. When asked what I do I respond either "I'm an English teacher" or "I teach English" but I still consider myself to be a singer. I have never been paid to sing or had any outlet for my singing other than my time spent at university. People (professional singers included) tell me that I could go professional but I just don't have the will power to sit around in a supermarket job and work my ass off at professional singing in my "spare" time. My life will always be singing and some day I will do it as a career. In the meantime I am a teacher.
Am I babbling? Probably...
*


I've a quick question. The uni that I'm currently going to has a huge music department, I know a lot of people who are currently enrolled in it. Many of them know how spotty getting work as a professional singer can be, so they're decided to become music teachers so that they can still be involved in music, but at the same time can have a steady paycheck. Why wouldn't you become a music teacher instead of an English one if music is what you love to do? (I'd have to also agree with Jaq that teachers who aren't passionate about what they teach often don't inspire the kids they teach to want to learn)


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Hobbes
post Aug 31 2005, 08:10 PM
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QUOTE (Jaq @ Aug 31 2005, 08:08 PM)
I don't know if you do things half-assed, but if this is your attitude towards teaching in general, I'm just going to take a wild stab in the dark and assume that you do things a bit shoddily.
*


Hmm, I'm not sure that's a fair assessment. Faerieryn didn't say she wasn't passionate about teaching, just that - ultimately - it isn't the top thing on her list of what she wants to be. Which is fair enough. Everyone has aspirations. I'm sure that the majority of people (whether in a job they already love or not) can think of another career they would - in an ideal world - prefer to be in.

And I do see your point, Jaq. Teachers that don't actually "want to teach" have little value to the education system. I just don't see that Faerieryn is necessarily one such teacher. My assumption is that she wants to teach (clearly enough to go through all the training necessary to do so), but that she has other dreams that she would also like to achieve. Ho hum.

One of my best teachers (my English teacher), wanted to be a film director. One of my others (again, and English teacher), wanted to write musicals. Let people have their dreams, I say.


But to the topic in general:
An interesting question. Most people have already said what I'd say, and probably in a far better way than I could. But this topic has got me thinking somewhat. There's a lot of things I would rather be doing, career-wise, and I've never even attempted to follow them through. I've just kind of 'fallen' into my current job, and it isn't really something I would necessarily want to do forever. There's things I want to be, and achieve. I just haven't got on with it...

So, if nothing else, this topic has given me a slap around the face tongue.gif
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Snugglebum the D...
post Aug 31 2005, 08:24 PM
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With all due respect to you, Jaq - I think you are way off with your post and rude with it. Just because, ultimately, it's not what you want to do - that doesn't mean that you can't put your all into what you're doing at that time.

I despise my job, with a vengence. However, it's something that I wanted to do. And I put my all into it going above and beyond call of duty. Now, I need to move onwards and upwards.

I think to an extent your job will always define you. We spend more time working then we do anything else. Whether we like it or not - it's bound to have an affect on your overall self.


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CommieBastard
post Aug 31 2005, 08:41 PM
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Mod weighing-in: Mata may overrule me, but I don't think Jaq was being rude, just confrontational. This place could use a bit more confrontation sometimes, in my never-particularly-humble opinion. She certainly didn't break any rules.

/end modness


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Jaq
post Aug 31 2005, 08:49 PM
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QUOTE (Snugglebum the Destroyer @ Aug 31 2005, 02:24 PM)
With all due respect to you, Jaq - I think you are way off with your post and rude with it.  Just because, ultimately, it's not what you want to do - that doesn't mean that you can't put your all into what you're doing at that time.
*



Ryn and I have completely different attitudes towards teaching. I look at it as a career that I want to pursue, one of the few things in my life that I take seriously, that I am intense about and want to do as well as possible. Ryn seems to look at it as a job that she's filling until her singing career (which she's not working at) takes off. It dissapoints and saddens me when I see these sorts of people in the profession that I have so much respect for. This is probably where you're picking up the rudeness from.

My parents always told me and my brothers to do what we loved and not settle for something else, because when it comes down to it you're going to be at your job for the majority of your waking hours, so you'd better like what you're doing. Maybe Ryn likes teaching, but from the way she talks about it it sounds as though she doesn't and if that's the case, I'm sure there are plenty of other people who would love to be in her place. (me for one)


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Snugglebum the D...
post Aug 31 2005, 09:05 PM
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Commie - I didn't suggest for one minute that Jaq was breaking any rules at all. I just felt that the way she presented her point was more aggressive then necessary.

Jaq - I see your point entirely. So if you want what Ryn has - then take your own advice and do it?


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Sir Psycho Sexy
post Aug 31 2005, 10:16 PM
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I'm not entirely convinced you job defines who you are, I'm thinking it's more the type of person you are defines the type of job you get. There's a certain type of people that go into construction, or office work. I think with anything, if it takes up as much time in your life as a full time job, then it's bound to have some influence over your day to day life. I suppose it's all down to the individual...funny how so many different people are alike....


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Chronotub
post Aug 31 2005, 11:15 PM
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I donít think job defines who you are, for most people I know a job is a means to an end, they do their job simply for the money. Many people do jobs that they hate and donít fit their personalities at all.


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Mata
post Sep 1 2005, 12:05 AM
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Just to muddy the waters further, it should also be remembered that you can be good at things that you don't necessarily enjoy. The army wanted to recruit me when I was a teenager because I was a good marksman and generally very efficient with a gun, these days I've got a good education and have found that I seem to be good at organising and leading people when it's needed. It seems likely that I would have done extremely well in the army, but I wanted to try other options.

Just because Ryn would rather be doing another job option it doesn't mean that she won't be good at what she does. I think it's down to an issue of self-definition (which is what the topic was originally about). She may well be a singer that is also a very good English teacher. If she chooses to identify herself more as a singer then that's her choice.

I understand your (rather forcefully made) point about teaching requiring motivation and dedication, but in the UK the government has yet to give teachers a fair deal for the work that they do, and seem to prefer making teacher's jobs harder with every new rule. 'More work for the same pay' seems to be the usual system for approaching all public sector employees in the UK, so finding people who really want to be a teacher and are prepared to stick with the hours and wages is not as common as perhaps it is in other countries.

Judging by the number of budding teachers my local university throws out every year I somehow doubt that there is a lack of teachers competing for positions. To me, the very fact that Ryn is employed in a crowded market argues strongly that she is a good teacher, or at very least her school belives her to be so.

(I understand that you are passionate about this Jaq but try to keep the tone more 'questioning' than 'interogation' please! smile.gif)


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bryden42
post Sep 1 2005, 10:55 AM
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I am a theatre technician in a well respected drama and music based higher education establishment. i have, in my time, been a cinema attendant, a data entry clerk, an office junior, unemployed (thankfully for only 2 months), a bouncer, an TV actor and a KY jelly packer (really this was not a sexual preference thing biggrin.gif). I would like, someday, to be a beach bum. None of this defines me in any way further than where i end up each day at 8:30 in the morning.

I am Carl, a singular collective of atoms and dna that has had experiences both sought and thrust onto me, and it is these that define me, arguably my genetics also play a role. My work life has had little to do with defining me unless you view it as a filter for the experiences that i have had. you could argue that I would not have had quite so many late nights if I wasn't in theatre, that my back wouldn't be quite so buggered but I think that would be a seperate issue of Fate vs Choice.

Society may suggest that your job makes you what you are but then I've never really listened to what society said.

I am Carl, a brother, a son, a friend, a husband, a black belt in judo, a first aider, a libran, a 28 year old..... all just labels

what makes me me? from who's point of view, I've been fairly positive about me in this post, but there are people out there that wouldn't be. Which would be right, probably both, who I am depends greatly on who you ask, its a matter of perspective.

errrr I'm rambling and really should get back to work (irony?)

Carl


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Jonman
post Sep 1 2005, 11:25 AM
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No no no, you've got it backwards. My job doesn't define me, I define my job.

I'm an aerospace engineer. I spend all my days buried nuts-deep in very low-level technical information. I can see how a lot of people would think it's incredibly boring. At times, it is. But I get a buzz out of working at a very technical, abstract level. Which is precisely why I'm doing what I do. My brain is wired to be an engineer. Always has. Thinking back through my childhood, there's millions of indicators that point towards my current career. I'm obsessive about detail, curious about how things work, and am constantly thinking things like "that could be done better". That's what engineering is. I already thought like an engineer before I was an engineer.

Let's have a think about Mata instead though. As far as I'm concerned, his job is 50% the same technical low-level spoddyness of my job (i.e. coding, debugging etc), and 50% creative, artistic design work. Looking back to him as a teenager, there's about a billion indicators that point towards him doing what he currently does.

Our jobs don't define us. Our 'us-ness' defines which job we end up doing.

And all that said, my career is not what I want to spend the next 35 years doing. I have no real idea what I do want to spend that time doing as a job, but hey.


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Sir Psycho Sexy
post Sep 1 2005, 01:52 PM
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Technically a giant, intellectual midget.
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QUOTE (Jonman @ Sep 1 2005, 11:25 AM)
No no no, you've got it backwards. My job doesn't define me, I define my job.

I'm an aerospace engineer. I spend all my days buried nuts-deep in very low-level technical information. I can see how a lot of people would think it's incredibly boring. At times, it is. But I get a buzz out of working at a very technical, abstract level. Which is precisely why I'm doing what I do. My brain is wired to be an engineer. Always has. Thinking back through my childhood, there's millions of indicators that point towards my current career. I'm obsessive about detail, curious about how things work, and am constantly thinking things like "that could be done better". That's what engineering is. I already thought like an engineer before I was an engineer.

Let's have a think about Mata instead though. As far as I'm concerned, his job is 50% the same technical low-level spoddyness of my job (i.e. coding, debugging etc), and 50% creative, artistic design work. Looking back to him as a teenager, there's about a billion indicators that point towards him doing what he currently does.

Our jobs don't define us. Our 'us-ness' defines which job we end up doing.

And all that said, my career is not what I want to spend the next 35 years doing. I have no real idea what I do want to spend that time doing as a job, but hey.
*


That's what I said....or ment, I can be very inarticulate a lot of the time!


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kisah
post Sep 1 2005, 04:23 PM
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***WARNING*** v long post, sorry, love this stuff though.


Bravo for asking such a great question. I feel like this is a topic that most of us have an opinion on and I have to say, I am interested in all of them. *This* is my passion. I think in an ideal world I would become an anthropologist. The whimsical way I've gotten this far through life tells me that I have just as much chance of becoming an anthropologist as anything else really.

I think I am in agreement with all the folks that say no, my job does not define me.

At the moment, I am the personal assistant for a senior partner in an accounting firm. Anybody who knows me, can you tell? I hope not, because this is just what I'm doing to keep me busy while we move all over creation BEFORE we move back to Seattle.

Before we moved here I was working in a super fullfilling job as a Nanny. I worked for good families making good money. I don't think I ever felt unappreciated or unloved. I certainly wasn't considered some domestic servant. Now I'm wearing power suits and serving tea to important men in more expensive suits. Do I fell like I sold out? Maybe a little, I certainly feel less fulfilled and appreciated. This isn't what I will be doing for the long term so I guess for the time being it serves it's purpose.

I could happily Nanny for the rest of my life and feel like I have had a positive influence on people's lives. That would be enough to fulfill me.

I have toyed with the idea of going back to university to study teaching as I feel very passionate about children getting a good start in the education system. I know I didn't and I think it would have made a world of difference if I had. Although thinking about it, I don't know that I would have had a better life or become a better person (because I'm bloody wonderful, me) but I think I would be a more well rounded person.

I'd really really like to get my Ph D in Anthropology and study social science for the rest of my life. It sounds like heaven to me (I'm getting giddy just typing about it). To be completely fair though, I don't know if I have the patience to get another degree, let alone two more.

I think that our situation in life generally dictates the decisions we make about our careers. I know loads of people that have a bad time at work but don't say anything because they would be rocking the boat and feel like they would probably get muscled out of the job for it. I don't know how founded these feelings are but I can understand that from their point of view, they have financial obligations, children, mortgage, whatever else that makes them feel like they can't just pitch a fit and go.

I can't imagine ever feeling that trapped. I wouldn't like to think that anyone could be nasty to me and not hear about it. I am in the priviledged position of being young, having very little financial responsibility, and being married. All of these things contribute to my feelings of well-being about my rubbish job. I *could* decide to tell them to go snot themselves and leave... that is all that I need to make me feel okay about this otherwise demeaning position.

Being the rebellious person that I am, I suspect that I could find myself being a middle aged divorced single mom and I still wouldn't take any crap from anyone that thought they were better than me. I can't say I'm the most responsible person.

I think that's about enough for today.


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Cath Sparrow
post Sep 1 2005, 04:44 PM
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I've been brainwashed
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Jaq:- Ryn from my experience does enjoy her work and is passionate about her Teaching. I heard her talk on serveral occassion about both singing and teaching and she can be equally as passionate about both. People who were at the last Notts meet will have seen something of what she's like when talking about literature from the conversation she and Mata had on the Saturday night. And from what I gather from conversations with Ryn the students like and respect her. biggrin.gif

Snuggle:- Jaq just spent the last year in Korea teaching English and seeing as she only reurn to Canada a few weeks back I doubt she's had time to find a new job yet. tongue.gif

As for me though I'm unemployed at the moment the job I've choosen to do as a career is a bit of what defines me but isn't all of it I work so I can make the money to do what I enjoy and pay for what I need to pay for to live and to some degree that is the only reason I have a job. The reason I choose the career I did is because it uses some of the skill I was interested in learning so from that it does partly define me in that what I use to do the job is something I wanted to find out more about. But it can never fully define me because there so many other things that interest me and have nothing to do with my job and going by alot of the people I've met doing the job if it defined who I was more I wouldn't have done half to stuff I have done because to some degree the type of people I've work with have a certain mentality which I could never follow and dont quite understand.
At the moment because of my unemployment I'm considering doing a job which has very little to do with who I am to make it possible to do something I really want to do and which is part of who I am so from that point there would be no particular way that the job I'd be doing would define who I am.


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How would you feel about life if Death was your older sister? You're only young once but you can stay immature indefinetly!!!!



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Quoth(The Raven)
post Sep 2 2005, 05:38 AM
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Gee, I hope not. As emotionally disabled, my job could be described as being disfunctional, which I don't care to be, forever...


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Arthur, Gwen, and Quoth...Onwards to 4000 posts!Quoth is Cath's noob - what was she thinking?:)Duckflaps!Watch out for low flying kittens!'Dance, Monkey, Dance!' Well, this monkey don't dance no more!Never say 'die'... except as a command! I adopted Insaneperc!What kind of fool do you take me for? I don't know. How many kinds are there?
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