The systemic roots of working an unlovable job

Anna Malesiewski, Features Editor

Like a lot of college students, I have a job that I don’t particularly love.

Not because the work environment is stressful, or I have a terrible boss or because I don’t make enough money. I don’t love my job because it is not what I am passionate about.

That’s why I’m getting my degree. To, one day, secure a job that I (will hopefully) love.

But for now, I must have a job that I’m not passionate about to make ends meet. That’s what I need to do to not only survive but set myself up for success in the future.

I recently saw a video about “loving your job.” This video claimed that over 90% of people don’t love their job.

Isn’t that the whole point of college, though? According to the Education Data Initiative, 66.2% of high school graduates go on to postsecondary study and 60% of bachelor’s degree-seeking students graduate. So, it makes sense that a significant percentage of the work force should love their job, right?

Why, then, are only 10% of people happy with their jobs?

Like with many things, the answer comes down to privilege.

Some people don’t have the luxury of working a job they love. Many people work jobs they don’t love to make ends meet – college students or otherwise. When the choice is between being able to make rent or working a job you love, I think most people would choose to make rent.

With the inflation rate soaring and the minimum wage, well, not soaring, most people (myself included) simply take whatever job they can get that will make them the most money.

And don’t even get me started on how poverty can affect things like mental and physical health, cognitive development and even life expectancy.

So yeah, I need to work a job I don’t like to avoid being hungry, homeless, unhealthy and underdeveloped.

Some argue that leadership is a major factor in how much people love their jobs. Which is true to an extent – leadership helps shape the work environment, which can in turn help shape people’s moods. But that still doesn’t change the fact that waiting tables is not my forte.

The issue is more systemic than based on the structure of individual businesses and organizations.

A lot of people simply do not have the opportunity to work a job they love and make ends meet at the same time.

Especially if you come from poverty or simply cannot afford or choose not to pay for college, it’s even harder.

Something needs to change. How can we be content in systems that insinuate that poor people are not worthy of job satisfaction – which can contribute to overall life satisfaction and happiness?

Or going even further – let’s stop the narrative that your job is what’s supposed to make you happy. Let’s stop the messaging that if you have positive leadership in the workplace, you should be pouring your blood, sweat and tears into work.

Maybe a better way of looking at employment is through the lens of whether it contributes to overall fulfillment.

I would love to one day be fulfilled in my job. I would love to get out of bed with a pep in my step before work because I know I’m doing something meaningful. That’s one avenue of fulfillment in relation to employment.

But I would also love to one day work a job that allows for me to be fulfilled in my family life as well. A job that allows me to put my kids on the bus and help them with math homework and attend their sports games or school plays.

A job that allows for a healthy work-life balance.

For as long as I have been working (since I was 14), my dad has always told me that a job is a means an end. My dad has always based his career choices on what will allow for the overall happiness, health and security of our family.

Even now, my dad takes my little sisters to school, helps with math homework and comes to get me from school when I want to come home.

His job is the means to the end where he can do that.

“Happy with your job” does not have to mean that you don’t have any hesitations about backing a company with your blood sweat and tears.

Maybe it simply means that your job allows you to be happy outside of work too.

Anna Malesiewski

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