Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"But don't you already have a job?"

Following up on my previous post, one of the most common responses I get from my non-academic friends when I talk about my job search is "But don't you already have a job?" or "Don't you like you current job?" And I do. On both counts. My current job (in IT) is perfectly pleasant, challenging without being stressful, and the environment is so respectful and welcoming it's almost eerie. I am also making more money that I would as an assistant professor at the majority of schools in the country. One friend reminded me that most people don't do what they love for a living, and another even suggested that doing it for a living takes the joy out of it.

And I recognize I am speaking from a position of privilege. There are far too many people who don't have jobs at all, or who are working in unpleasant, hostile, or unrewarding conditions because they have to feed their families. Being able to pursue one's passions is a luxury. But it shouldn't be.

A parable: Have you ever had a piece of fruit that was so transcendentally delicious, so perfect, that you think "I could eat nothing but oranges (or strawberries or feijoas, etc.) for the rest of my life!"? Then the next one you eat is heartbreaking, not because it's bad, but just because it's not perfect. It's a little too mealy, or not tart enough. It's mediocre, and those little imperfections are so disappointing that you don't want to eat another orange for a long time.

After teaching, for me, all other jobs are mediocre fruit.

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