(Photo: Lake Luzerne, Adirondacks by Kat Banzon)
I have found myself completely dispassionate about my job. It’s nothing new. But it doesn’t make it any better nonetheless. I arrived in my current organization wanting to have an impact in this world and wanting to have the capacity to make things better for humanity.
I often think about how I can make the world a better place than how I found it. When I was younger I was much more willing to put my own well-being in the back burner. For the betterment of humanity, I would say. But now that I’m older, I’m afraid that my idealism has finally dwindled away along with my youthful suppleness and most of my body’s collagen. Just never to be seen again. Now that I am older, I am more jaded. Or perhaps this is just what the humanitarian sector does to you.
This past week I went on a getaway trip with my family and made a commitment to finding out what’s next for my career before my neck starts to visibly sag from sun damage and aging. Let’s face it, there’s no hiding that. I continued to ponder the questions that most career changing folks often find themselves asking:
- Why stay in an organization that continue to take advantage of its people? Because it’s a nonprofit, people are expected to do the work simply for the mission and not the money. This is BS by the way but that’s almost irrelevant here.
- Why maintain in a line of work that no longer makes me happy? Not even happy but at least satisfied?
And then it hit me.
My motivations for having a job was not to find happiness. I didn’t sign up for this gig so that I can find my happiness. I learned this as I stared out longingly and happily beyond the Adirondacks mountains that I have this job to satisfy my very adults needs: keep a roof over my head and feed myself. And maybe have enough clean underwear in rotation.
And then it occurred to me, perhaps it may be just a tad bit greedy to ask that my full-time job grant me happiness as well as provide me a sense of financial security. There’s literally nothing wrong with desiring this. However, if it doesn’t deliver, then what.
I know I don’t live in an ideal world. I live in New York where the rent is always and forever too damn high. And the honest to God truth is, nothing in this world can be your everything.
Nothing in your adult world can be your everything. Not your job. Not your partner. Not your family. Not your career. Not your apartment. Okay, maybe my apartment. But perhaps that’s one of the secrets to happiness in life, that nothing can be your everything. Not a single damn thing. When you think about it, it’s heck a lot of pressure to put on any one thing to serve as your everything.
That’s a lot of eggs in one basket. Unless you’re parenting, there’s really no reason to expect someone or something to fulfill your every single need.
And why on earth should you?
That level of expectation is really just setting both parties up for failure. Because if it fails to deliver all our expectations we berate it. We resent it. We deny it. We complain about it. It becomes so toxic. I think the more we diversify our sources of joy, the happier we are.
We expect similar pressures on our careers. I mean I totally get it. Since we devote so much time and energy to our jobs, we often find that our jobs may not reciprocate to our level of expectation. Especially for us career-minded women, we expect our work to bring us joy, recognition and accolades. When it fails to provide, we resent it. Naturally.
Again, now that I’m a littler older, just a little bit more wiser and more than a little cynical from the sheer disappointment of my career progression, I’m learning that this level of expectation is unfair. Both to myself and my job. Plus, it’s exhausting to constantly battle for my career to offer me both financial security and pure enjoyment (I mean isn’t that what Netflix is for). I’m learning that nothing can be my everything. Not even my career. If my job can satisfy me financially, creatively and emotionally, great. If not, there are other aspects in my life that do bring me fulfillment and joy.