The Struggle to Identify Your Struggle

I had an interesting Twitter debate this morning after someone spoke of a Starbucks kid who screwed his store over by twice not showing up as the “keyholder” to open the shop.

The debate came from completely different perspectives — I’m getting on in my 30s, spent 15 years in retail, dreamed of a better day working in “real” jobs, but eventually realized my job never solved any of my problems in my life; meanwhile, the other debater’s in her early 20s, dreaming of a better time in a real job, and probably believes the same as I used to, that life really gets better with a different job.

Trouble is, one day you wake up and you realize that all you did was put on different clothes and cash a bigger cheque.

You dreamed of the trappings of success, but never realized it was really just a trap till it really had hold of you.

Deep down inside, the smarter-older you realizes the job has fuck all to do with your true happiness — it just gives you better means to avoid the issue and hide from the truth.

Anyone blaming their job for unhappiness probably needs to think twice.

I can’t tell you the hell I put myself through believing it was my job that was costing me any happiness in life.

I thought, “Oh, it’s a do-nothing, go-nowhere job. It’s why I feel so held back in life. I don’t make enough, I don’t do enough, I’m not special enough. I know — I’ll quit! I’LL SHOW EVERYONE!”

After two years of trying to get by in an endless parade of bad-fitting jobs, part-time work, and self-employment, I realized the job was never the problem.

No matter what I did, that current of discontent still ran through me. I was my problem.

Let’s face it, not everyone’s going to have a job that speaks to who they are. Not everyone gets to work in a career that radiates their true nature. We need labourers and waitresses too, you know.

There comes a point where the job just doesn’t matter.

If you think a career’s all you’ve got going in your life, then, yeah, okay, I can see how you might be in for a world of suck.

But that’s your choice. You’re the fucking idiot that’s decided some dude with a wad of cash has that much power over who and what you are. God help you if you ever lose that job, y’know? Be MORE. Expect MORE. Live MORE than just your job.

I’m not my job and I’m not my bank account.

I’m the chick with a way with words who really digs thinking and living a contemplative life of slowness and relative quiet. I’m the chick who can find god on a riverbank and think there’s nowhere else I should be, and no one who should be with me. That’s me. When I leave work, I contribute to my end-of-life legacy with things that speak to me and who I am. Not as much as I could… that troubles me. I want to do more. But I’m further than I was, and do more than I did, and these are good things. And I know the things that call to me, that I should do, and that I know are going to be done. My time, my way.

My advice?

Don’t look at your relationship or your job as your source of unhappiness. I betcha dollars to donuts that the source is inside you. Things you’re likely not doing or facing, and it’s easier to use life situations as “obvious” blames than it is to do the hard emotional work of realizing a lot of answers lay within.

Running’s easy. Standing and fighting? Then you get a cookie. And some bruises.

Good luck with that. It’s so not the 2010 way — avoidance is an artform. We got yer pills, your cars, your portfolios, your adventure vacation packages, yer smart phones, yer funky gadgets… shit, we even got Lady Gaga. Is she a chick?

Is that ALL there is? Isn’t there more? We’re the wealthiest the world’s EVER been — so why the fuck are we all so empty?

Rip the fucking scab off. Prod your wounds. Do all the things that scare you. Find more to satisfy YOU in life, and stop blaming your inability to do so on your spouse or your job. It’s a choice and a matter of values. Make it happen. It’s quality, not quantity, so think about it.

Hiding behind time demands as an excuse for a life half-lived is a sissy 2010 thing. MAKE CHOICES. You can’t BE everything or DO everything, so CHOOSE. Offend people and don’t go to a few engagements. Big fucking deal. CHOOSE.

Seriously, if I could sit every 20-something down and say, “All this angst and sadness you have? Your shitty retail job isn’t the problem — your reaction to it is. Everything you need to know about life, you can learn here and now. If you want.”

And if I could sit every 40-something down and say the same thing about their office jobs? I would.

Because you’ll never learn about people better than in the workforce — their capacity for evil or infinite goodness, their irresponsibility and unexpected nature are all unavoidable, daily.

Don’t cop out and blame your job for unhappiness unless you really know you’re happy everywhere else in your life. If you quit and get the rude shock at another job that you’re still going home empty inside and, gee, that place has assholes there, too, then you’re in for a really crushing emotional defeat.

Trust me, I know! Been there, done that, the t-shirt didn’t fit.

Stay with the devil you know. Try a new sport, find hobbies, do things you love. Remember to take time to do things that make you a better version of you. When you feel you’re on the way there, then you can make other changes.

Otherwise, you’re likely just doing more harm than good.

Changing should always be done on the inside before you attempt the outside. If you’d like to see it take hold, that is.

Pfft. I don’t know, I’m still on my journey. But what I DO know is, I’m happier here, “on my way,” than I’ve ever been — and I don’t have a job or savings or security. I have more inside me, though, than I ever have, and I credit that to the really hard choices I’ve made to learn about myself and all my damage, over the last 3 – 5 years. I made some mistakes along the way and I’d rather others learn from that.

Fix you, and the universe will follow, seems to be the lesson things have been teaching me. Jobless? Moneyless? What I got you don’t buy, you don’t get given, and you don’t take. You earn it, slowly. Self-knowledge, faith, belief, and you learn it by going crutch-less and not dishing out blame.

Yep. Fix you. The universe will follow. It’s a fucking amazing thing.

PS: Sometimes your job really is a steaming pile of shit and you should run for the hills. But, you know, just make sure of that.