I currently have two main jobs. I work part time as a librarian at a university. I work casually as a kitchen assistant at a food truck. I also do odd writing jobs and work contracted as an editorial assistant at a poetry magazine. Which one of these is a real job?
Whenever I tell people where I work, their reaction tells me a lot about who they are. My favourite reaction is from my friend Danny, who said to me, “That’s so indie!”. And some truly find it inspiring that I work to fit different interests in.
But some people look down at the food truck job. They say, well, if you can get that library job, then why would you work somewhere like a food truck? Get a real job. For them, having a hospo job means that I’m uneducated. And having an office job means that I’m educated. And because of these two facts that they hold in their mind, they can’t seem to reconcile the two. They can’t figure me out. (It's almost like all humans are multi-faceted individuals!). And the conversation dies down pretty quickly after that.
But for me, it’s easy to understand. I cannot fathom sitting at a desk for 40 hours per week. I think I would go a little crazy. The hospo job lets me have time outside, connecting to a whole range of people, while being on my feet. The simple reason that I work there is because I like it. Why do I need to pigeonhole myself to working in only one industry?
There is a book called The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. Jonathan makes the distinction between three kinds of work–a job, a career, and a calling. The job is something you do just for money. The career involves obtaining larger goals, but at times it feels like a rat race and loses its satisfaction. And a calling is work that is fulfilling, that gives you purpose. I appreciate this distinction because it does not assume that having a career will make you happy. But I think when people tell me to get a real job, they mean, get a career. Get an office job where you can go up and up and up, and see those job titles fly past as you conquer them. And then you’ll be happy.
But just because I’m not career crazy in an office building doesn’t mean I’m not going up. My hospo job has given me confidence and so much experience on how a small business works. I write a lot, and my writing is always developing. I always have a project going on. I self-publish my own books. But because my progress is not conventional, some people don’t want to see it. And so they’ll keep trying to tell me I’m not doing good enough, that my progress isn’t anything until I quit the things I love and get a ‘real’ job, until I start measuring myself against their markers of succcess. But I think I’m doing just fine.