Monday, 5 June 2017

Why Work Doesn't Have to be a Passion

  I feel that for most of my life, the general work-based motto thrown at me from any sort of TV show, magazine or teacher has always been that the job you choose should be a passion. You should choose something that you're going to enjoy every single day, and if it's a choice between the job that gives you more of an easy life or the job that's based more around your interests that you should choose the latter every time.

  Work in an area that you're passionate about, and it'll never feel like work. Or at least, that's what the nice sounding slogans like to advertise.

  And honestly? I think that sort of message can actually be very damaging. A lot of people don't necessarily know what their passion is. And we can't all be singers, actresses, YouTubers or whatever else - and nor would we all want to be.

  My first real work roles all included childcare and education. My degree is in early childhood studies, my master's degree is more specifically in early childhood education. Both topics that I found very interesting (and regret entirely, but that's a story for another day) and based around something that I was and still am very much passionate about. I find children fascinating, I enjoy learning about the theories behind various childhood development topics, and I really love being around younger children and caring for them, alongside helping them develop, learn, and play. So, as you may expect, my earlier roles were all childcare based. I've been a room leader for several different age groups. I've been the leader of different afterschool programs. I've been a teacher.

  And honestly? I hate it.

  The first role I took, I hated it immediately. I stuck it out for a year and it made me miserable, but I thought it was just the setting I was in. So I tried somewhere else. Hated it. Didn't even last a month. So I tried a third place - still hated it, but really liked the people I was working with there so I held it out for as long as I could. Childcare was my passion, but I absolutely hated the work. I didn't like the pressures, I didn't like the environment. I didn't like the fact that having Early Years Professional Status for some reason meant that I could take on extra children in my ratio. I didn't like that I didn't have time to do anything, and I didn't like going home exhausted every single day. I really didn't like being constantly observed and inspected. You'd think I'd have got the point there, but I still went on to work at another setting for two years. I really liked the majority of the people I worked with there, but unsurprisingly I was still miserable. Because of that, I started to feel like I wasn't even enjoying the actual childcare part of it anymore. There was nothing left there for me, and what had been a passion felt like it was now ruined - it took years before I had any interest in anything related again.

  My next role was with the police. I'd done two years volunteering as a special constable (basically, unpaid police officer with a minimum number of hours per month) and being a police officer was something I'd always wanted to do when I was younger as I loved the idea of helping people. I'd never been able to when I was younger as I can't drive manual cars so I'd sort of forgotten about it - however the London forces do not have this same requirement. After leaving education I worked full time as a police officer for two years and again - hated it. At first I enjoyed it as I did enjoy the variety and I enjoy the investigation side of things. What I didn't enjoy was constantly finishing work late, having absolutely nothing going on for ages and then getting in trouble for having not really done very much that month (ignoring of course that that's because you'd done a good job at deterring things from happening in that area and sorting out what had already been occurring there...!) absolutely hours and hours of waiting for solicitors and translators to turn up and of course not being able to leave until the whole process had been completed and having my days off cancelled with sometimes very limited warning. I remember having ten days straight where I didn't go a single day without having a day off cancelled, a shift time changed (always to something completely inconvenient - so a 3pm finish allowing me to finally go out and see some friends after work would turn to an 11pm one) or finishing at least four hours late. I didn't enjoy it anymore, and I didn't have a life outside of work to enjoy either.

  My current role? Somewhere in the transport industry. This was a controversial choice for some of my friends, as I was torn between this role and a role within the civil service. The civil service role would have been much more stimulating and pressured and held a lot of responsibility. The interview day consistently banged on about how much responsibility I'd be taking on and how exciting it would be to be the cause of all that change that I wanted to see. And I didn't enjoy it all. I was stressed all day. Every bit of the selection was stressful and pressured, and I at no point felt like the pay matched the role. I didn't want to be stressed all day. And knowing me, end up taking it all home with me.

  I chose the role that for the most part isn't particularly interesting, because I didn't want to be tired all day anymore. I chose the role where the hours are still shifts but are for the most part much shorter, as I wanted to have a life outside of work again. I chose a role with lots of annual leave, because in all honesty, holidays and travel are one of the most important things to me. And I chose the role with the higher pay, even though I felt a little like I'd sold out for having that be one of the significant reasons.

  I don't care that my work isn't very interesting. I care about the fact that it gives me the time to go home and go out, and to fulfil my hobbies and to have time to fit in fun activities outside of work. I can be asked to do overtime, and I can also answer with a simple "No," and no one tries to pressure me into anything further. I have a job role to fulfill, and I don't get hassled to do anything other than what my contract tells me I'm supposed to be doing. And when it comes to my annual leave, I feel comfortable knowing that I don't have to think about work at all while I'm away - and that no one's going to be there trying to phone me to get me to come back early. I had a few friends who'd known my previous careers ask if I'd be embarassed telling people about my new role, but why should I?

  I don't think work has to be a passion. If you are one of those people that thrives with a lot of pressure and enjoys a working lifestyle that allows you the chance to be constantly on-the-go, then that's great for you. But I'm fed up with seeing people criticise those that are in a 'simpler' role, be it admin, a receptionist, retail, office work, or pretty much anything else. Not everyone is in those roles because they have no choice. Not everyone wants to be in a fast paced job. And not everyone can be in something that they love, and nor should it matter.

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