Over the past three years of trip leading and working odd-jobs (toilet expert, mine caterer, electric fence fixer) while traveling, I’ve gotten this question a lot. I always responded honestly, citing a combination of plans I used to have for myself; taking a year off, graduate school, a series of jobs to make me very successful and well-respected. But none of those answers felt right.
What is a Real Job? I’m not sure, but it seems that it can’t involve travel, fun, freedom, satisfaction, or more than four walls.
Many young people experience a lot of pressure regarding what they should do next, myself included. After high school, it’s college. After college, it’s time for graduate school or getting a Real Job, which then leads you to another Real Job. This is the path that many people I grew up with have taken, and they are rocking it. But why aren’t there other obvious options? Where does this pressure originate?
It seems to me that “Real Job” carries a negative connotation. It seems to me that a Real Job is the total opposite of awesome. The question of when I would get a Real Job was usually asked after a statement like “WOW, your trip sounds amazing,” and followed by a very large “BUT…”, as if there has to be a catch for having awesome experiences in your life! As if enjoying your life and having a Real Job can’t possibly be happening at the same time.
I was 22, had just graduated from college, and was floating in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Lefkada with my friend Dimitris when the light bulb went on for me about Real Jobs. We were working together on an adventure trip for teenagers throughout Greece. There on a white pebble beach, I asked Dimitris if he believed in getting a Real Job, and when he thought he’d get one.
“What do you mean? Isn’t this a Real Job? Isn’t this Real Life, right now? Look around!”
I looked at Dimitris, a friend I’d only met a week before, and felt so thankful for his presence in my life. I could have kissed his cute bearded Greek face. I felt the sun on my face, the water on my skin and the health of my body & mind. Yeah, Dimitris, this is Real Life. Dimitris gets all of the points.
Now when people ask me when I’m going to get a Real Job, I tell them I already have one (or many) and they are amazed. But your life is full of fun and adventure, they say. How can that be?!
It’s upsetting that we live in a society where we think we need jobs that suck—they suck time, they suck energy, and they suck creativity. We believe this so much that we go so far as to call them “Real Jobs”, and we don’t entertain the possibility that it might not have to be this way. After all, what’s really REAL?
I challenge you to think of Real Jobs in a different way. A real Real Job is something that you are excited for and that you believe in. It’s something you feel good about, and you make others feel good in the process! Your job doesn’t have to define you, but if you want one that does, make it as awesome as you are. So bring it. Be creative. Ask yourself what kind of lifestyle you want and get after it.
So if you don’t already have your dream Real Job, go get it, or go create it!
What are your thoughts on getting a Real Job?