When I left my last full time job, at the Sierra Club, I made a vow to myself that I knew even then would be incredibly difficult to keep, but one that reflected my ultimate goal in life.
I swore to never have a structured, office job ever again.
So now, for the first time since leaving Sierra Club, as I hunt for a new job, my commitment to that vow is being tested. When I tell people about it, I usually get laughs, and half-hearted smiles telling me “good luck.” I don’t blame people. Our system, the western industrial system, has been so ingrained and now, so widespread, that we all assume that a 9-5 desk job, or a variant, is the only way to go, especially for those of us who’ve received professional masters degrees. The best we can hope for is a job where we are making a difference, or, a good boss, or a nice location. Workplace disincentives matter little in our world.
For me, though, the reasons were just a dislike of traditional work. It was the feeling that this was not the best way to be productive, to make change. That bureaucracy, and managerial organization was stunting productivity, my productivity. That something about this felt…unnatural. Unhealthy.
So I was incredibly happy to see this TED talk today, and realize that my feelings were right.
I always said that I wouldn’t mind working more than 9-5 – as long as its something that I feel passionate about, something where I feel like I am making a difference. My dream is to be a writer, and I already know that in this dream, my work will possibly take over my life. And I don’t mind. Having my passion define my life is different than having a 9-5 job define my life.
We have built a system that stunts creativity, where money is assumed to be the ultimate motivator but often falls short. I know so many unhappy rich people, people my age who have aged greatly, who never have time to enjoy life, or themselves.
I understand people’s need for stability, which a structured job provides. But for me, stability is only secondary to passion and love. I believe that true friends can provide more stability than money alone. And as I continue to look for a job, I’m going to stick to my vow. No structured office jobs.
I will find a way.