If this one sucks, go blame Sarah. Her post on Monday about applying for an Assistant Manager job at a grocery store sparked this. And if it doesn’t suck, you should totally go visit her site cuz she seems cool as fuck.
I’m rather an odd duck for someone in my generation, not just because I really am an odd duck, but because I’ve known pretty well exactly what I wanted to do as a grown up from about the time I was old enough to understand what teachers do.
I have always wanted to be a teacher, always. ALWAYS.
My sister and I would play school. If she didn’t want to play with me, my stuffed animals became my students. I started planning my college career early, much to the dismay of my business-minded grandfather. He wanted me to follow in his footsteps which would have involved taking Spanish in high school and then lots of business courses and getting a management degree so that I could make embarrassing amounts of money and not just keep up with the Jones’, but make them jealous.
And all of that sounded like a whole lot of soul-sucking, living dead kind of shit to me.
Part of what I should explain is that money has never meant a damn thing to me. I like it when I have enough to pay the necessary bills, put some food on the table, and a little left to do a few fun things now and then. But my clothes aren’t name brand, my cars aren’t brand new, I go to a great hair dresser who works in a very plain jane salon and doesn’t charge a fortune for my totally easy cut and color, and I haven’t taken a full on vacation in over two years. I don’t care about those things. And I never have. Here’s the thing –
Money isn’t the yard stick by which I measure my happiness.
For me, it’s more important to work at a job that I (usually) love, with people I like and respect, doing something I believe in. I rarely work more than 40 hours a week, they pay for 15 hours worth of tuition per year for me, at best I work 2 nights and maybe 2 Saturdays in an entire year. I can wear jeans or shorts when I don’t have scheduled consults. My boss doesn’t care that a few of my tattoos show. My mom loves me so ridiculously unconditionally. My nieces are the cutest kids ever and sometimes we can pull off taking a picnic lunch during the week in the summer. My best friend would drop everything and drive up here if I needed her. And my husband is a decent human being who loves me a whole fucking lot.
And by that yard stick, I’m happier – and RICHER – than a body has a right to be.
I worked a corporate gig for awhile where I made better money. It was hourly and there was often overtime. It was way more structured and management treated us like cattle. I hated it, every gawddamn minute of it.
You don’t get rich working in education, even in higher education. I’ve got one graduate degree and I’m working on a second. I make way less money than you’d suspect, but it doesn’t bother me. My mental health is mostly stable and I know that if the stress of the job gets to be too much, I can talk to my boss about that honestly and openly without fear of losing this job. That to me means more than damn near anything.
Having a mental illness and finding somewhere that you can continue to stay in the workforce AND be happy isn’t easy. I got lucky, really fucking lucky. No one judges me here and no one makes me feel uncomfortable about being different, not in the slightest.
How do you put a price on that?
I have not spouted all of this garbage to say that we should all eat Ramen, wear second hand clothes, and roll pennies for gas all the time. Some people are WAY more ambitious and career-oriented than I’ll ever be – and that’s awesome. If that is your yard stick, and it truly does make you happy, then I wish nothing but happiness for you.
All I would invite you to do – and I would invite everyone to do this – is look at your life and think about what bits bring you joy and what bits bring you misery. Then do everything in your power to increase your joy and minimize your misery.