Dreams and jobs.

It’s Monday. And while, in general, I try to keep it light on Mondays because most of us are still easing into the week, today, we’re going to tackle something a bit heavier.

Here it is: I got a new job. (You may already know this if you follow me on Twitter.)

I know. I know what you’re thinking: Good LORD, Justine! Didn’t you just get a new job? Right after you just got another new job? WHEN DOES THE MADNESS END?

And I completely agree with you. I’m ridiculous. And, it would appear, notoriously fickle.

But hear me out. Because I really don’t think this is a symptom of fickleness. I think, in a bizarre, sounds-deeper-than-it-is kind of way, the fact that I’ve changed jobs so many times in the last three years is a symptom of eternal hopefulness.

Did you get a little teary-eyed reading that? Or picture a really sincere orphan staring you down with eyes the size of saucers? Gross, right?

Let’s back it up. Back it up all the way to about a year ago. Back to when I had a bit of a quarter-life crisis.

Can you believe it has been almost a year since I wrote this post? (No? Well, I recently found out the INTERNET is only 21 years old. So…time is a funny, funny thing.)(Sorry if I just made you feel ancient. I feel the same way.)

But anyway. Pretty much since I wrote that post, I’ve had this on-going debate going on in my brain over a single question: Does anyone really love their job?

I mean, we hear about these people, right? We read about them on The Everygirl and follow them on Twitter and see their obnoxiously fabulous pictures from their obnoxiously fabulous work events on Facebook and Instagram. The thing is…have you ever actually met one of them? Or I should say, really gotten to know one of them?

Because, in my experience, even these people who gush about how blessed they are to be doing what they love and having success at it usually come with an asterisk. You know, the kind that are attached to disclaimers like, “I mean, I never see my family, but I love it.” Or, “I can’t afford to eat, but it’s such an incredible opportunity!” Or, you know, “Sure, the rest of my life is in shambles, but other than that things are perfect!!

And then when I see things like this on Pinterest, it’s not exactly encouraging:

The thing is, I’m not ready to give up on the dream. I’m not ready to accept that everyone just hates their jobs secretly and there’s no such thing as the dream job, not really, not 100 percent.

The sincere-orphan-staring-you-down-with-eyes-the-size-of-saucers part of me is still hopeful that the dream job can be real.

I feel like I’ve spent the last three years trying to prove it to myself one way or the other. So far, I’ve had the job I loved doing but that didn’t pay me enough to survive. And I’ve had the job that paid me enough to survive but I hated to do. And I’ve had the job that paid me enough to survive but was so boring I could feel myself coagulating in my chair every day. But now…

Now I’m going to start a job that is going to pay me enough to survive (even, perhaps, a little more than just survive), that I’m pretty sure is going to challenge me regularly, and that I think (*closes eyes and holds breath*) I am going to love.

I just really, really want to love it. I want it to be everything I think it could be. I want it to be hard sometimes, but also really fun. I want it to not make me hate life. I want it to make me a better person because I’m challenged and enjoying what I’m doing.

Is that too much to ask? Maybe. But I’ll never find out for sure staying somewhere where all I know is that I’m not happy. (Although, as you may recall, there’s also a case for the concern that I will never be completely happy.)

I guess I just hope that the unhappiness, wherever it comes from, will feel worth it. That seems reasonable, right?

So. That’s a lot of feelings. But I guess the gist is that I’m still fighting for the dream. I’m still hopeful it can happen.

I start on August 27th. So I’ll let you know.

And just because I’m nosy…what do you think? Do you have your dream job? Does it come with asterisks? Are they worth it?

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17 thoughts on “Dreams and jobs.

  1. Oh yeah. Jobs. Ugh.

    This post resonates pretty deeply with me, because I’m fairly sure I fall into a category that wasn’t among the ones you mentioned: I have the secure job that barely pays me enough to survive AND is so boring I can feel myself coagulating in my chair every day.

    Great combo, right? The problem is, I don’t know where to go (that is, what it is I *will* love), and with the economy what it is (I just found out one of my friends got laid off today), I’m pretty scared to make the jump without knowing where I’ll be going is secure.

    So basically, you’re my inspiration. Please keep being awesome, ’cause you’re giving me hope that I’ll figure it out and feel like I’m fulfilled…at some point.

    • I completely relate to you “this is scary as hell” feelings. The ironic thing about making so many leaps in the last couple of years is that it makes me freak out even more about whether or not I will love my job. I know at some point I will start looking like a crazy person if I don’t get this figured out. (And I know that the more jobs I have without striking that true “dream job,” the less chance there is that it actually exists…bummer right?)

      I’ve become a little paranoid about it. When I see a job listing that sounds great, my first thought is, “Yeah, but how much does it pay? What time does everyone leave the office? Is the boss cool, or a tyrant? Does everyone get along? Will I have to fight to be able to do my job? What’s the worst part about working there?”

      Unfortunately, most of those aren’t questions you’re even “supposed” to ask in the interview, so usually you just don’t know until you try it.

      As for the job security…yeah, that’s definitely a concern. A while back, I had a freak-out that maybe I was making a huge mistake leaving publishing, and I emailed a friend who was still in the industry to let her know I was sort of looking to come back, and her response was basically, “What exactly is wrong with your current job? Because it sounds a lot more secure than mine.” Talk about a reality check.

      So….basically, I’m hoping I’ll figure it out and feel fulfilled too ha. Here’s hoping we both find that!

  2. Justine, I LOVE my job! I am so obsessed with my work that I start to get the Christmas-morning, wiggly anxiety on Sunday nights because I can’t wait to go back. It IS possible. I’d rather talk and think about my work than anything else, which may or may not be unhealthiness in a whole other direction, but I’ll take it. You’ll find it. And CONGRATS!

  3. I LOVE my job. I’m the Public Relations Director at my hometown’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. It’s fulfilling, sometimes challenging, sometimes easy breezy, puts me into contact with LOTS of people and lets me stretch my creative wings. Are there cruddy days? Absolutely! But I love what I’m doing. The other 3 crappy jobs I had before this were stepping stones to where I am now. Hang in there, those jobs EXIST!

    • Thanks, Stacy! I really love your comment because your job is one I had never considered as a potential dream job, but for you, that’s exactly what it is. Such a good reminder that you never know where good things will turn up.

      Of course, I also love it because I am crossing my third less-than-desirable job off tomorrow and hopefully launching into the dream one. I’m hoping your system works for me too πŸ™‚

      Thanks for commenting!

      • You are so right, you never know when good things will turn up! I actually got my job because I introduced myself to my now boss at a Chamber of Commerce function, and let him know all of the good things I’d heard about him and how I’d love to work for him someday. 6 months later, he hired me, and I’ve never been happier in a job before. I think it’s also interesting to look back at all the “crap/waste of time/deadend” jobs, because I firmly believe that you pick up skills in those jobs that help you in the future. Even if they’re skills like “how to avoid a dangerously temperamental boss and look busy, all at the same time”. Everything you’ve done has led you to where you are headed, and even if it’s hard to see now, there’s been a purpose and skill you’ve taken from all of them that will help you in the future, or even lead you to exactly where you’re supposed to be. So excited to hear about your future adventure!

  4. Great post! Good luck with your new job!
    I’m kind of a dreamer like you that “my dream job is out there!” And I really think it is. I think you can LOVE your job. But I also think we need to be realistic. Even if you love your job, there will be days when you want to rip your hair out, there could be a co-worker that causes drama, there will be times when you have no balance and working all the time/don’t see your family much. I think this is just the reality of jobs, it is supposed to be “work” after all.
    Don’t give up : )

    • I completely agree. Nothing is ever completely perfect, obviously. Honestly, I think I do well with a little bit of stress in my life. It keeps me from looking for things to worry about. As long as everything balances out, I’m okay with challenges.

      Thanks for your comment!

  5. Hmmm… this is a tough one! I have had many of the same thoughts and questions myself and I still don’t have a good answer. Me? I really do enjoy my job and feel really grateful to have a job I enjoy, in my chosen field, that pays me enough to continue to do it. Do I still have days that are boring? Yes! Do I have days that I think “Wow, I’m so blessed to do this!” Absolutely! I agree with the other commenters that it’s about having realistic expectations for what a job can provide you. If I thought my job was going to bring me lasting fulfillment and happiness, I would always be disappointed in it. But when I only expect it to be enjoyable, require me to use my skills, and challenge me, then I feel much more positive about my work. Can’t wait to hear how you like your new gig!

    • I think that’s a great point. I’ve always said it’s not my job that fulfills me, but the things outside my job and the things my job allows me to do. Then again, I know I’m happiest when I’m always doing things that challenge me and are fun and are interesting. I’ll definitely keep you updated!

  6. I love what I do. And I could not be more excited to be taking the next step to pursue my dream job. But with that being said, I think that already being in a long-term relationship with my love makes things a lot easier. Working until 11 pm on a Friday? He understands and has dinner waiting for me when I get home. I also worked for free for almost a year, so he was there to pull an extra part of the load and while I have had few days off since I started, he is very supportive and understanding. So really, I think the thing is that makes the long hours and crappy (lack of) pay, is that I have him…and the science.

    • It’s so funny you said that, because I would argue that being in a serious relationship makes the work/life balance MORE difficult sometimes. It’s definitely easier to work later now that Joey and I live together and I’ll see him at the end of the day no matter what, but at the same time, I’m not sure how much I like the idea of working late and spending less time with him. Maybe I’m too attached haha. I’m so happy to hear you’re so happy!

  7. I know I’m a post behind but I wanted to follow up on this. I have the job I’ve always wanted. I love my job, and I love being able to do what I do. Can I even call it work if my workplace is a basketball game or a baseball game? Well, yes, I can. But my job is challenging, exciting, gives me an adrenaline rush, is fun, and revolves around sports, which as you may know I kind of enjoy.

    However, I spent most of college, grad school and a year plus doing internships focused on getting this job. It wasn’t my sole focus, but the most important one for me, and pretty much everything else in my life was a smaller priority during that time. Now that I have the job and have been doing it for awhile, I’ve been trying to address other parts of my life that have been a bit neglected. Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that this job does not allow for a good work-life balance. Wanna start making healthy meals for myself? Its a lot easier just to pick up Subway after a volleyball game that ends at 10pm. Wanna work out more? I’ll have to plan around 6 baseball games in five days. Go out on a date with a girl? Yeah it was fun, I’d love to see you again. Can you wait three weeks until I’m available again? Hell, I am going to miss most of Annie’s wedding for a football game, and that sucks.

    So, yes, I have my dream job and I enjoy doing it. But it isn’t perfect. For now I am finding ways to work around it (planning way ahead for which nights I can cook, moving into an apartment with a gym, seeing a girl who also has a super busy schedule and “gets it”) but that in itself is pretty exhausting.

    My point is, I think it is pretty rare to find that perfect combination of a job that really challenges and excites you, but still allows for a solid work-life balance. If this is that job, I would say stick with it.

    • I completely get what you’re saying. Honestly, that was a big issue for me initially too. I’ve always been an over-achiever, so I was used to diving head first into internships and not coming up for air until they were over. When I tried to do the same thing for my real job, I found that I wasn’t happy (no matter how well work was going) if my personal life was suffering. Then again, I find that I’m also unhappy when work isn’t fulfilling at all.

      My biggest fear about this new position is that I’ll wind up in that first situation all over again, but there’s no way to know until I try it. Guess we’ll see!

      I hope you find your balance, too.

  8. I know it’s not the 27th yet and yes I’m behind on reading all the postings everyone has done since last week, buuuut. I wish you luck. I tolerate my job well, I wish I had something I’d love to do, but I just don’t think there is anything. Wish sitting around the pool with books and drinks was a job. I would fraking love that one, for a month or ten! πŸ™‚

  9. I don’t even know how to put my thoughts into words but all I can do is say ‘yes yes yes!’

    I think I once had my dream job. It was the happiest I’d ever been at work. I too, like yourself and many of your other readers, would consider myself an over achiever. I did a ton of internships before graduating and thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. After I graduated, I got that awesome internship at my ‘dream job.’ I loved it. The people. The atmosphere. The work. The clients.

    Sure, I stayed at work late some days, and got in before the sun rose. I cried. Said I hated my boss. Said I wanted to quit. But those were the BAD days. And the GOOD days far out-weighed the bad days. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone having a perfect job. I don’t think that exists. But I think the ‘dream job’ does and it comes with both good and bad days.

    Now, said dream internship/job only lasted six months because I decided to leave it to move to Iowa to be with Kevin. I don’t regret that decision or hold him to it, because it was MY decision. But I could have gotten hired on full-time and started my career in an awesome setting. Instead, I took a job that I knew I wasn’t going to like and didn’t pay well at all. The first seven months in Iowa was absolutely miserable. I blamed Iowa, because I didn’t want to blame Kevin or myself for MY own decision. Make sense? It did to me at the time.

    I finally got the courage up to leave my horrible job after a couple shady things happened and I found a new job. My current job! I like it. A lot. Especially a lot more compared to my most previous job. But I always wonder about that first job. Where I thought I was most happy.

    Would I still be happy there? Especially with me there in St. Louis and Kevin here in Iowa? Where would we be in our relationship? Hating long distance? Yep. Would I be happy still living at home (because let’s be honest…I would be)? Probably not (even though I love my parents to death).

    I think about it often, especially when I have bad days here. But then I remember that bad days happened at (what I thought was) my ‘dream job’ too. And I don’t think that I need to keep looking back in the past at that job, but instead look at my current place, realize that I’m happy – even though I’m doing something different – and appreciate that.

    So yes, I think the dream job exists. I think I had it. And I think I’ll get there again (not that I’m unhappy at my current job!). The important thing with my current job (in my opinion) is that I’m learning and growing professionally – it may not be what I want to do forever, but I’m learning new things and I think that’s pretty awesome.

    Also, since this is already so long, I won’t go into detail but I think that you have to be passionate about your dream job. Passion is key!

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