Oh You Got Your 'Dream Job' and It Sucks? Welcome to Life


You worked hard, you lay awake at night with your mind churning, you went into debt getting that degree — and that other degree — and you finally landed your dream job. Then you realized: It’s not for me. You’re not alone.

As Sue Shellenbarger writes for the Wall Street Journal:

The idea of a “dream job” is drilled into job seekers these days. Increasingly, people expect to find jobs that provide not only a living but also stimulation, emotional fulfillment and a sense of purpose. The image of a career as a source of passion is promoted by career advisers, self-help books and even the glamorous characters in TV dramas. But fantasies about a job can blind job-seekers to workaday realities and to consideration of the best fit.

Shellenbarger profiles two women who landed awesome-sounding jobs: One, right out of college, was hired at an ad agency; the other, after learning Arabic and earning a masters in international relations, was snapped by a defense contractor, running a program for the Pentagon. The Pentagon! Each of these ladies stayed at the jobs for a year — or less — before fleeing. (Ms. Pentagon has had three jobs now; she is 26.)

A quick survey around the HQ revealed that most of us have been there: We thought a position would be awesome, only to get there and feel “meh,” “miserable,” or discover the entire scenario was “a layer cake of bullshit.” Knowing what you don’t want is a powerful thing.

But it has to be said: It is a fucking luxury to enjoy your job. Millions of people would be grateful to have any job. A lot of people work because they have to, in order to live, and happiness is not even a factor — food and shelter are at stake. Higher education brings better opportunities, but concepts of “dream” jobs are seldom based in reality: How do you know you will love it if you’ve never done it before? It seems like we talk a lot about personal happiness and confidence and satisfaction without acknowledging how self-centered it is. Studies show that kids these days just want to be famous; which is just a sign of how greedy and desperate we’ve become for ego boosts. (And if everyone is famous, who’s left to do the adulation?) It’s important to strive for better, set goals, keep pushing, try new things, admit when something has failed, learn from your mistakes and all of that. Aim to accomplish something. Adjust and move on. Persevere. It’s essential to try and be the best you can be. But let’s not forget: It’s not necessarily a job’s job to make you happy. Ultimately, a “dream” job is still a lot of work. Otherwise it would be called a dream vacation.

Image via Ron and Joe/Shutterstock.

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