I have been neurotic about planning for the future pretty much since the moment I was conceived, so I have kept myself fairly busy since the July before freshman year, when I barged into the school office on my 14th birthday and demanded a worker's permit so I could get my first job bagging groceries and start racking up work experience. Since then I've worn a ridiculous number of hats in my working days, not just as a grocery bagger, but a toy store associate, a phone representative (literally the worst), a daycare worker, a babysitter, a seasonal sales associate, a food service worker, a songwriter, an office assistant, an intern several times over, and a writer and editor. I'm probably missing something on that list, but honestly even typing that out right now made the failed drafts of my work resume cry, so I'm not going to think much harder.
The thing is, most of these jobs were just that — jobs. I mean, I liked most of them. I certainly made friends at all of them. But at the time I was less concerned with enjoying the jobs so much as I was with how they would look on my resume, or how much money I'd be able to save up by the end of the summer before school started. To be honest, I never thought of a job as something you enjoy. I met occasionally met people who loved their jobs, either at places where I was working or out in the "real world," but I just assumed that was something people said to stave off the oncoming lunacy of realizing they were stuck in the same 9-to-5 job possibly forever. And after graduation, I was way too focused on landing any kind of job to be concerned with whether or not I liked it.
Anyone who has had the unfortunate chance to be near me in the past few years knows that I've started writing for the web (MUCH SHOCK, article readers) and that I love it so much that I word vomit about it any time I get the chance. ("Oh, stop pestering Emma about her job, she already got asked that same thing 6 times tonight," said one of my older friends during the holidays, not knowing that I was never done talking about it and I never will be.)
The difference having a job you love will make in your life is kind of crazy. I LOVE getting up in the morning. Time passes ridiculously fast. (Apparently it's 2015 now?) Even when I'm not working, I'm thinking about working, because my brain is obsessed with it. Your whole future seems to open up, because you're no longer making compromises with yourself, saying that you'll stay in a job "just a few months more" or waiting for something miraculous to happen. In fact, the only even slightly bad thing about loving your job so much are the occasional few things that people say that we crazy job lovers are getting just a tad tired of hearing:
"Your don't get to complain; your job is easy."
We have all, at some point in our lives, worked an "easy" job, and if you ever have, you will know that the easy jobs are the most unbearable. People who love their jobs aren't in those jobs because they're "easy." They are in those jobs because they challenge them in new ways every day, so they never get bored. Sure, being passionate about a job makes the work you're doing feel more meaningful, but it doesn't mean that you snap your magic job fingers every morning and SHAZAM, everything is done.
"You care way more about your job than the people in your life."
A love for a job does not even take up the same ventricle in your heart as the love for the people in your life (according to the science of me). Your family is unquestionably your first priority no matter what job you have, but this is a weird guilt-trippy notion that friends will occasionally use, which is kind of high up on the "yikes" scale. We should all support each other in our endeavors, especially at the beginning of our careers, when going for it with everything we've got makes all the difference in long-term success. I'm not saying to ditch all your friends for a good job, because there is a healthy balance for both of those things, but the friends who support you and understand your passion are the friends worth having.
"But this isn't what you majored in!"
Among the people I've met who also love their jobs, a huge percentage of us had a college major that had little or nothing to do with it. If you are a person who is having an existential crisis in what to major in right now, just don't. Pick what you love. I majored in psychology because I was pumped about the classes I took, even though I knew that the odds of me going to graduate school or pursuing a career in it were close to zilch. What you are passionate about in college will serve as a foundation for the rest of your life, but it won't determine a set course. Nothing at that age really does. Ignore the statistics and ignore the naysayers, because if you follow your passion both in and out of school you are much happier in the long run — even if they don't seem entirely related, I promise you there will be all kinds of fun ways that they intersect.
"Yeah, but what's your long-term plan?"
WORLD DOMINATION (duh). But really, why do some people think of jobs that we love as "temporary"? There is this misguided implication from people every now and then that eventually I'm going to have to say, "Well, that was fun, time to go be miserable in a job like I'm supposed to #bye." As if your job is somehow more valid or counts more if you are unhappy with it. My long-term plan is the same as everyone else's: get better at doing the thing I am doing. Just because I happen to be freaking obsessed with it doesn't mean it's a less legitimate career option.
"Ugh, you need to get a life."
What does this even mean?! I have a life. I enjoy different things in it than you do because we are different human beings, and one of the things I enjoy happens to be my job.
"[Your name here] is practically married to their job."
What is this nonsense that loving our jobs somehow compromises people's ability to be in a stable relationship? This isn't a "one thing or the other" situation. Like all things in life, you find a happy medium between a job you love and people you love. If you happen to be single, this gets even more annoying to hear, because there is this weird and shaming implication that you have somehow failed society by being more invested in a job than in finding a relationship (i.e., Robin's fate on How I Met Your Mother ), when most of us just happen to be single the way people who hate their jobs also just happen to be single.
"I'm so jealous."
Hear me out: I'm not tired of hearing this in that cliché hair-flip, "it's so exhausting when other people are jealous of me" way. I'm tired of hearing this because I am genuinely upset for friends who stay in jobs that they hate. You love your friends, and you want the same happiness for them that you feel, because you know from experience that they will be better off in the long run taking a job that they love over a job for money. Besides, this shouldn't even have to be a compromise: If you get really good at the job you love, you have a whole future ahead of you to make more money in it, if you're just willing to take the chance.
"Are you ever going to wash that shirt with your company's logo on it that you've practically lived in for the past month?"
FOR THE RECORD: THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS NO.
Images: NBC; Giphy (6)