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Shippy's avatar

In a job that did not reflect who you are, how would you keep a sense of self?

Asked by Shippy (9857 points ) March 8th, 2012

I know and realise that most people dont enjoy their jobs, and probably face the same dilemma. But lets say the job you “had” to do, upset you, or disturbed you, but you had no other choice. How would you maintain balance in your life on a daily basis? It could be a job that goes against everything you believe, but you simply have run out of choices. I think really I am looking for the “balance” factor or the fact that people can have healthy lives, even if they have very difficult jobs. Or because they do not have choices in one area of their lives, does it filter through to other areas of their lives?

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16 Answers

whyigottajoin's avatar

When you come home, or before work, whenever you have spare time, pursue something that you have a passion for. And ask for a vacation!

SavoirFaire's avatar

If I had a job I disliked that much, I simply would not define myself in terms of it. I do the dishes in my household and I also take out the trash, but I don’t define myself as a dishwasher or a garbage collector. They’re just things I do.

zenvelo's avatar

It’s important to pursue work you can feel passionate about. If it’s a job you’ve taken to keep food on the table, it’s important to tell yourself that you will seek a new job as soon as you can. You are not your job, you are a person of value defined as yourself.

Even when you do find a job you enjoy, be careful to not define yourself as your job. I have known too many people who did so that were lost when they retired, many of them did not live long.

rooeytoo's avatar

Some people live to work and others work to live. Most fall into the latter catagory. I worked to make money because money is what you need to live and I like money to spend. Even when I had jobs I liked, I didn’t like them every day, there is nothing, no job that I would love or even like constantly. Such a goal is unrealistic in my mind.

rojo's avatar

Focus on those portions of your life that bring you pleasure, family, friends, etc. Get a hobby that you can throw yourself into after work or on weekends, preferably something physical that you can also use for stress relief because working at a job you detest will always send your stress levels sky high. Voluteer and help those who are in need.

submariner's avatar

Do you really have no other choice? Victims of human trafficking or children who have been forced to become soldiers in African civil wars can say that they have no other choice, practically speaking. Most residents of the developed world who have regular access to a computer may face serious dilemmas and obstacles, but they usually do have choices.

If people are depending on you, and that is why you stay in a job you hate, then there is your answer: you define yourself primarily as a parent, spouse, or provider, not as someone who does that kind of job—and you won’t be doing it forever. If you have a medical condition and can’t risk giving up the benefits that go with your job (assuming you live in the US), then see the answers above for now, but maybe upcoming changes in healthcare will give you more options. If you simply have developed an expensive lifestyle and are working at a well-paying but soul-killing job to pay for it, then you know what you must do.

In short, examine your priorities and use your imagination. There probably is a way out. If there really isn’t, then you must make peace with your situation for the time being. But no matter how dire your situation is, you do not have define yourself in terms of your job. That much really is up to you.

wundayatta's avatar

There are things I don’t believe I would do even if it meant I ended up on the street.

But it’s hard to imagine being in that position because I have always chosen work I believe in. In fact, I feel like I didn’t have a choice about that. I tried, a couple of times, to get work that paid well, and I was never hired. The only people who would hire me were people who wanted me to do work I believed in.

I guess I would say that I would not be in this situation. Meaning is too important to me. I can’t do work I don’t believe in. It would drive me to depression and maybe even worse.

flutherother's avatar

I wonder how soldiers who are ‘loyal’ to the Assad regime in Syria see themselves and how they justify what they are doing.

Bellatrix's avatar

I would leave. I wouldn’t stay in such a job. Life is way too short to be doing a job that really is so disconnected with who I am.

keobooks's avatar

I think being passionate about your job and having it define you is a white middle class value. I was kind of surprised when I briefly lived in a factory town and people thought I was crazy when I went to parties and tried to make small talk until I caught on.

Me: So, nice to meet you. What do you do for a living.

XYZ: I work third shift at the box factory.

Me: Hmmm. So what do you do all night?

XYZ: Fold cardboard for 10 hours a day 4 days a week.

Me: Hmmm.. That sounds interesting.

XYZ: Nope. It isn’t.

Me: Does it get youi down having a job that’s not interesting? Do you want to do something else?

XYZ: WTF? What’s the matter with you? It’s just a job.. It pays the bills. Of course it’s boring. That’s why they call it work.

HungryGuy's avatar

I do it by by doing what I love at home on my own time.

I’m a software developer who works on consulting assignments for assorted large dilbert-esque mega-corporations. I love programming…it’s what I was born to do…but all the nonsense that comes with working for a large company makes it mind-numbing. No matter what company I’m at, they always pride themselves on their quality standards and empowerment and whatnot, but the software is crap and the developers can’t make the most miniscule decisions about how to structure their code and it serves no real useful purpose to anyone except a few corporate blow-hards building their little empires.

I live for creating my own software like my Edge Play online game that simulates a kink club in NYC. PM me if you want the link, but it’s very NSFW.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @zenvelo

I have always been lucky in that all of my jobs have showcased my strong points, great people skills, high creativity and I have thoroughly enjoyed my work, minus a couple of random stints. I don’t care if I was on the verge of starving I would never turn a blind eye to any work situation that compromised my integrity.
I wholeheartedly agree that regardless of ones work situation we should always strive to find a fit that complements our true self.

I do not believe in trying to fit square pegs into round holes and seeking right work is huge in the grand scheme of ones happiness levels.

saint's avatar

I wouldn’t. I would find another job that did.

anartist's avatar

You seem in a very bad place right now. Your other recent Q talked of your fear that meaningful life had slipped away forever as you approach 50 and now this Q about your job. Is it a dreary dead-end “nothing” job or something that really goes against all you believe in [like working in a slaughterhouse if you are a vegan]?

Can you afford to make less money than you are now making so you could only work part-time at something unappealing to you? And use that extra time to volunteer or get an internship in something you like, or go back to school? Or even use that free time for an avocation like gardening, gourmet cooking, painting or writing?

Have you ever felt like you were pursuing a career, rather than just supporting yourself?

Are you living in an area like @keobooks describes where most of the available work is dull and that is the expected and accepted lot for most people around you?

Do you have education, training, or skills for something you would enjoy more? And do you have interesting stimulating friends who are doing things they want to do? Is there something you could see your way to move in the direction of, if you could get out of your depression and self-pity?

I was lucky to some extent—I enjoyed my most of jobs. I didn’t make a whole lot of money and still don’t, and had some jagged breaks in my “career path” but I had interesting times. And possibly something I produced will outlive me.

Shippy's avatar

@anartist Because the cost of living has risen so drastically I have always felt I had to pursue a career as opposed to a job. This lead to great success for a period, but corporate life and demands were the undoing of me I feel. Fast forward to today and in a 3rd world country a lot of jobs that may be considered jobs worldwide or in the USA, here are considered menial. Which means you receive not even a livable income. Meaning individuals from impoverished groups will take that job and will live in a squatter camp with that wage.
Here social structures are lacking, no medical (expensive) no assistance to mentally ill persons, and a grant is the equivalent of $75. An average rental is $400. There are no homes or halfway houses nor shelters for people not earning.
Here you live on goodwill, and that is lacking in a society where everyone is suffering the same consequence if they cannot find employment. Plus affirmative action and the new equity bill states that all jobs go first to blacks and people under 40 as that is our largest demographic. This is depressing in itself, hence my question regards society. Yes I am depressed but I’d hate to think I am filled with self pity, more despair. But having said that I am going to read your reply a few times as I feel there are some excellent points there that can help me so thank you. (I also realize all my questions are sounding depressed and filled with self pity but fluther for me is where I am working out issues, I’d never share with anyone else). As to the world I seem like a fun person (when I am out and about which is not often). I felt I had to explain that as I do realize how I sound on fluther!

anartist's avatar

In which third-world country do you live?

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