I’ve pictured it in my mind countless times. JC and I in our cozy little flat, in our little tiny living room, sitting together and watching TV after dinner. It is summer time and the weather is hot, humid, and miserable, but inside my Hong Kong home I have air conditioning. The next morning we’ll go to work and look forward to doing it all over again.
I posted the above back in September. Before that, the text had been in my notebook for months, something that I had thought about for a long time. When I used to be unhappy at work, I’d daydream about it.
In daydreaming about the watching TV part, it seems that I forgot to daydream about the going to work part. Yes, I knew (and know) that I’d have to find a job, but I never thought about what I would do.
So, what would I want to do? I want to read books, play video games, and drink Scotch. Know anyone who’s hiring for that role? Taking a look back at my history, I find that career has never been a high priority for me. I never planned a career path. Before my previous job, I didn’t work for three years. And now, it has almost been a year since I’ve been away from work. In total, since graduating from college, I have spent 5 out of 13 years not working.
My view of work now is that it is a necessary evil in order to survive in society. You give something to society, and you get something back, as it should be. The problem is when work consumes your life, as it does for many people. We already spend the majority of our waking hours at work; to make work an even bigger part of your life such that it consumes the majority of your thoughts, that’s too much. No, I don’t want to be like that. I have seen people spend countless hours at work and minimal time with their spouse, only for their spouse to contract a terminal disease and die. I have seen people give countless hours during the best years of their lives to work, only to come out with no family at the end. Now that I’m in Hong Kong, I see parents letting their domestic helper raise their child. Fuck that, man. That is not going to be me.
And so, therein lies the problem. It seems like every employer wants the perfect employee, one who is “passionate” and “enthusiastic” about work. Use whatever other buzzwords you see in job ads. What if that’s not me? I’m reasonably intelligent and I can and will do a good job, but I don’t want to make you my number one priority. Do you think I’d get hired if I flat out told someone that during an interview? In the job search space, I see a lot of people seeking and posing as perfection. Ask anyone who has any work experience at all and they’d tell you that there’s no such thing. So why is perfection expected during the job search?
In society, a lot of people are defined by their work. A lot of times, when people first meet, one of the first questions asked is “what do you do?” How do you answer this question? If I work at McDonald’s, do I say “I’m a food preparer at McDonald’s?” Or, how about dropping an ultra-elaborate job title without really explaining what it is that I do, like some posers do? I don’t see myself doing either of those. Actually, at my previous job, I always had a hard time answering that question.
Unlike my esteemed former colleagues, my work did not focus on one thing like financial planning or investment management. I had a title, but I would always be embarrassed to tell it to people. In my heart, I knew that I basically did a little bit of everything, and that I was an expert in none of those things. A jack of all trades, master of none. I would look at my colleagues with envy, because they were the true professionals, really good at what they do. They had an identity. I didn’t, and still don’t. I don’t know how I’m going to get a job like this.
I want to confess that it has been over a week since I’ve done anything related to finding a job. I just don’t know what I want to do (other than reading, playing games, and drinking Scotch), and so I’m not motivated to start. I know how to say the right things and what employers are looking for, and I know that if I played the game right I’d land a job quickly, but as I said those would not be my true feelings. I am growing pretty tired of saying the right things and telling people what they want to hear. I just want to be myself for a change.
I continue to struggle between being who I am and being a socially accepted person. Take this blog, for example. I’ve limited myself to posting mostly positive things, trying to come off as someone who has nothing bad to say about anything, when nothing could be further from the truth. I have opinions on many things, but because I don’t want to be labelled a “hater”, I mostly keep my thoughts to myself and those closest to me. Recently, in another post, I said that I had written something “whiny” and didn’t want to post it. I worry that I have or will become a caricature of myself, a person who is so polite and PC that he ends up being and saying nothing, having no substance.
Just the other day, I started ranting about people who smoke, and then stopped short of what I really wanted to say because I was afraid of what the consequences might be. It just seems like no one should truly speak their mind these days lest they be labelled a bigot, a racist, a sexist, a foot-in-mouth-ist, or whatever other -ist is en vogue at the moment. Well, with this post comes (hopefully) a new chapter for me and this website. As you’ve seen, I’ve been quite candid with my thoughts, and they’re not just the positive or popular ones. I’m going to be braver and try to say the things I truly feel, regardless of how they might be taken. I want to see the value in me, not what I think people want out of me.
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things, he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels
When all is said and done, I want to be able to say that I did it my way.