The other day, I was chatting with a young lady who has recently finished college and is now working at her first post-graduate job.
"Oh, great!" I said. "Do you like the job?" I asked.
"No," she replied, as if to say, "As if!"
Let me back up a bit. One of the things that I do for my own enlightenment and entertainment is to ask people what they do for a living and then the follow up question centers on whether or not they actually LIKE their job. Here's what my very unscientific sampling of at least one-hundred people from all walks of life has revealed ...
Most people like the nobility or the "higher calling" of their profession. Actually, they love the reasons why they became a doctor, attorney, mail carrier, firefighter or whatever. However, what they do not like is the day-to-day bullcrap that comes with the gig. In short, it's called ... REALITY.
Something happens to us after we graduate from college, doesn't it? Suddenly, the harsh reality of student loans, finding affordable housing, getting that first job and paying bills comes crashing down on even the most ambitious and optimistic souls who are dead set on "changing the world."
At some point, changing the world gets blurry amid the grave concern and sometimes panic of keeping oneself financially afloat. And so, despite our best efforts to prepare ourselves with the best possible education, we take that first, mostly undesirable job, simply to get our "foot in the door."
More often than not, that job is ... well ... this is where my chat with the young lady picks back up ...
"Why don't you like it?" I asked her about her job - knowing full well why she doesn't like it.
"Well, I'm basically just a paper pusher," she replied. "Even my boss is a paper pusher!"
And then, she said something that gets to the heart of why I'm writing these words.
"I just feel like I need to be doing some more creative."
BOOM. There it is.
Isn't it interesting that we live in a world where creative people are mainly held suspect and yet, creativity is more often than not, the very thing that people are craving in their lives? People want to feel that it's not only their lives that matter, but their work too. After all, most of us spend 40+ hours a week doing whatever it is that we do for a living. Is it too much to ask that we actually LIKE what we do? Is it too much to ask that we be able to do more than mere "paper pushing"? It's like making widgets in a factory all day or night.
The great thing about paper pushing is that it DOES pay some of the bills. However, it doesn't feed the soul or nurture your creativity, does it?
Creativity is important. We were created to be creative. There's an undeniable desire in all of us to create something and leave it behind when we're done. It's just how we're built. We can honor this by finding outlets for our creativity or we can ignore it and pay the price of pathology. It will show up in our lives somewhere and somehow.
So, how's that young lady handling her paper-pushing job? Well, she told me that she's preparing for graduate school in hopes of laying the groundwork for a more creative, fulfilling future.
With that, I told her not to worry. "You won't be in that job forever," I said.
"I know," she replied. "It is what it is."
It's such an unpredictable thing, isn't it? Can paper pushing change the world? Well, at the very least, it can keep you off the unemployment line. Having food and a warm place to live are good things. Chasing dreams and changing the world are important, but they start with paying our bills.
Are you a paper pusher?