My “day job”, as it were, is seriously stifling my creativity. I spend all day doing things that are antithetical to creative thought. Filing, answering phones, fetching coffee. Not exactly stimulating work. My writing has to take a back seat, because the only time I have to work on it during the day is at my 45 minute lunch break, of which 30 minutes are taken up by eating. And of course, when I get home I’m mentally and physically exhausted and sometimes writing can seem like a chore. Which is horrible, because writing is so often my escape, my passion, my reason for living at times. I don’t have the resources to jump full time into freelancing, so I do the day job hustle like so many other creative types are forced to do to survive.
U.S. culture is such that your job is your identity. When you attend any group gathering, inevitably you’re asked “what do you do?” How people treat you is often tied up in your answer to this question. The majority of our time is spent working, and we’re expected to be upwardly mobile — to chase that promotion or that bonus or that raise. We’re not encouraged to grow as people, to enrich ourselves, or to improve societal conditions. Those things have to be done on what little free time you have, along with grocery shopping, taking care of children, eating, sleeping, or any number of other things that are basic to our survival but not important enough to merit reducing precious work hours. So many people today work without paid sick leave or insurance or vacation time or any of the perks that you might get working at better jobs, because we have to. In this economy, you can’t afford to be picky in your work choices. Sometimes it’s between unemployment or working without benefits. And our work culture is stifling our freedom as individuals instead of just a cog in a machine, a coffee jockey.
Some people are able to work doing what they love, or work for a good cause, and I wish I was one of them. I wish my job actually improved people’s lives or in some way helped the world be a better place. Unfortunately, I work to help rich people get nasty divorces and other rich people sue corporations for not giving them their “golden parachute” when they got let go as a partner. It’s hard to do that with a smile on your face, and I perform quite below par because I just am not interested in this work at all. I want to work writing anything, although if I got a shitty writing job doing copy for a corporation I probably would be dubious about it. But at least I’d be working doing the craft I’ve been honing since I was a little girl.
Our culture needs to encourage personal growth and working towards happiness rather than just the go-go-go system we’re in right now. I feel like we should all be able to pursue our dreams, and I know it’s idealist of me, but I just think the world would be a better place if we liked what we did all day. I always hear romanticism about European countries and the supposed “siestas” they take after lunch, and more than once I’ve jokingly asked my boss for a cot in the conference room. Of course, I’m not actually joking. Somehow I think the trend is towards demanding more productivity with less free time and lower pay, not accommodating workers with naps and longer lunch breaks.
And now I’m off to bed, only to wake up tomorrow and start running in the damn hamster wheel all over again. With copious amounts of coffee in me.