Photographed by Franey Miller for Refinery29
A reader sent me a link to this essay,“The Dream Job Is Dead. Did It Ever Really Exist?,” and I thought it was worth getting a post of its own. The pandemic and resulting effect it has had on our economy and livelihoods has brought into sharp focus an idea that, especially for a lot of feminists who have fought for every career choice and opportunity and advancement they’ve been granted, might seem counterintuitive or in conflict with modern attitudes and behavior: our jobs are not our lives. Indeed, for many people, work is just… a way to fund their actual lives, and the idea of “dream jobs” is ridiculous because they don’t dream of labor. And yet, for those of us – again, especially women of a certain demographic – who grew up with a narrative that a dream job was something not only to aspire to but also a main way of measuring one’s success in life, not wanting a dream job, wanting a dream job but not having one or, even worse, not having any idea what your dream job might be has often brought with it a sense of, if not failure, a looming feeling of being different (and not “good different.”).
“The idea of a dream job as an item to procure, a destination at which to arrive, something you are rather than something you do, and a status symbol is definitely a reflection of the deeply ingrained late-capitalistic, productivity-obsessed, puritanical, American exceptionalism norms,” agrees Megan Hellerer, a career coach for “under-fulfilled overachievers,” who has worked with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She adds: “The ‘dream job’ concept is always looming in every coaching conversation I have in one of two ways, both despair-inducing. It can show up as the disillusionment of a failed ‘dream job,’ or the paralysis of feeling like one can’t start her life or her career because she doesn’t know with certainty what that dream job is.”
I was thinking of this essay as I answered the letter from Monday’s column, in which I found a pretty strong implicit suggestion that not pursuing a “dream job” – or, at least, the highest paying job one might be qualified for, which in itself might be how many define “dream job” – is to fail or to show a striking lack of ambition. But… it’s not. And maybe, just maybe, one silver lining in the awfulness that is our current situation, the uber capitalism that defined many of our childhoods – and I’m thinking of those of us born in the early 70s to early 90s, especially – is beginning to make way for something else – something that doesn’t define success by the kind of jobs we have or the amount of money we make.
“Many disillusioned workers are coming to the conclusion that they want a life where they work to live, rather than live to work. But it can be hard to admit when the job you thought would be a dream is really more of a waking nightmare, especially if you’ve already put years of hard work and expensive schooling into achieving it. Coronavirus and the resulting economic crisis, however, have sped up this process for many people, especially in industries where the pandemic has wrought significant job cuts. Even for those who still have jobs, the events of this year have forced us to re-evaluate what’s really important in life.”
Not only has the pandemic and resulting economic crisis sped up the process of re-evaluating one’s goals in life, but also younger people today have a far better grasp of all the ways they’re being screwed over by capitalism and they have more vocabulary to name those ways than those of us who were young twenty years ago and are maybe only just now able to articulate what they always felt in their gut (hi, it’s me!):
“It’s just not accurate or safe to define ourselves by where we work or what we do anymore, because chances are, we’re underpaid, overworked, and living in fear of being laid off. We also have the vocabulary, knowledge, and platforms now to articulate the ways in which corporate America is a deeply sexist, racist, classist institution with a lot of dated rules and mores that don’t make much sense in the context of the modern world. Even if you’re doing something you ostensibly love, it’s hard to feel like your job is a dream when you’re battling microaggressions, working multiple gigs just to pay the bills, or feeling chained to a desk all day in business casual attire when you could theoretically be doing your job from anywhere.”
And, of course, like so many other things, the disillusionment with the idea of a dream job is the result of gendered factors, many of which have also come into sharper focus through this pandemic we’re living through. Women – working mothers, especially – are being tasked with seemingly impossible demands, prompting them to make seemingly impossible choices about work, money, and family. If a “dream job” is coming close to meeting the extraordinary needs of our current moment, maybe it’s not such a dream, after all. Maybe the dreamier job is the one that allows for the best work-life balance.
I have so much more to say about all of this but, ironically, I have to wait because it’s 8:45 a.m. and in 15 minutes I have to supervise remote learning orientation on two different iPads in two different rooms of our home for my 4th-grader and my kindergartener as we begin what will likely be one of the more memorable, and likely more challenging, school years of our lives. It turns out my dream job is what I’ve been doing all along – it is this so that I can better be able to do that. I hoped ten years ago when I started this site that it would be a way for me to financially contribute to my household while engaging my brain and helping to create a community and also allowing lots of flexible time to raise kids. I had no idea how much I would need all of those things today.
Kate September 17, 2020, 8:44 am
The concept of a dream job never made sense to me. I truly don’t understand wth that idea means to people. I think it’s a millennial thing.
I have no life right now, honestly, because of the pandemic. I don’t socialize. I don’t have hobbies. I’ve been working 8-14 hour days. Zoomed to death. I miss being in the office about half the time.
BUT, I can work from “anywhere” now. I’m a contractor who gets paid for every hour I work. And the compensation is a lot higher than I’d get as a full-time employee. My contract was renewed through 2021. I’m approved by Compliance to work on my side thing, a tech startup that I’m co-founder of. I’m good at what I’m doing and I like the people I work with. This is all enough for me. I’m not really seeking any more from work than a way to stay busy, live comfortably, and use my skills to help businesses succeed.
allathian September 28, 2020, 2:12 am
I like my job, but it’s very much a job, not my life. I definitely work to live rather than live to work. Sure, I spend a lot of time at work and want to do a good job and succeed at it, but not at the expense of my mental health. I haven’t always been this way, though, and it took a near-burnout and therapy to get me to this mindset.
Honestly, I’m not worried about not being passionate about my job, but rather that I’m not passionate about anything at all. There are things that I care about that I’ll sign petitions for, but I value my privacy more than just about anything, so I’ll never be an advocate for change. They get so much hate and I just couldn’t deal with that.
veritek33 September 17, 2020, 8:49 am
I had my dream job and it made me miserable. I worked in the wine industry and got to travel all over and made 150% of what I make now as a salary – and I’ve never been more miserable.
I had to redefine my dream. Working 60 hour weeks and being on call all the time, being away from home for two weeks at a time and dealing with incredibly high maintenance people so that I could occasionally drink wine on the job and travel to Napa was 100% not worth it.
I took a huge pay cut to come to my current job and if I were to average my hourly rate over the two jobs I’m making the same just working less hours. But I get to go home and not answer emails and texts and phone calls and be glued to my laptop. I leave work at work, and to me, that’s the dream job I didn’t know I wanted but I’m so very glad I have now. I think the dream is fluid at this point.
MaterialsGirl September 17, 2020, 3:32 pm
i remember when you got the wine job! thanks, giant, years-long thread detailing major points in all our lives
veritek33 September 17, 2020, 4:38 pm
ha! yup, i was so excited to get that job. And the first three months were great because i was shadowing the person i replaced and the work was divided up. But man after she left I fully understood exactly why she was leaving. I drank a lot of great wine, learned a ton about how to be better at marketing/communications, and met some great people, but I have NEVER regretted leaving that job, not for one minute.
LadyInPurpleNotRed September 17, 2020, 9:07 am
Like Veritek, my job now allows for a huge work/life balance…when I’m done, I’m done–and my job is very about when it’s time to leave/sign off, do it. Don’t think about work when you’re off work. Take your vacations. Take care of yourself and loved ones. As an employee, I feel incredibly valued. They pay me well. Is it my “dream job” in the traditional meaning–no, but the benefits it has given me outside of work and to have a life outside of work (you know, during the before times…now I just have extra time to do school work and read) is way more worth it and totally makes it my dream job.
Bittergaymark September 17, 2020, 9:14 am
I had one for three months while I was the headwriter on a digital series reboot for MGM — for about a month and a half it was fucking amazing. But then everybody else started chiming in with story notes. Really BAD story notes. Some of which were quite baffling to me and the other writer.
Ultimately, I wasn’t happy with how the series came out at all. Far from it. I barely survived watching it twice. All the awful changes others insisted on were later ripped to shreds by a rather vicious fanbase — I got hate messages via facebook. Funny…. that was oddly validating. “Yes, yes, yes! I thought that was REALLY stupid, too…”. I’d nod in agreement as I read the often profanity ridden rants.
It was all very depressing as I had such hopes for the series and my career and it all was a bust. I doubt I’ll ever be paid to write anything again. So yeah. A bust.
Much like the rest of my life.
It’s funny. At the time I was constantly told I was being overly combative. Clearly, I wasn’t combative enough.
ktfran September 17, 2020, 9:31 am
If I were to pick a “dream job”, I’d probably own a bookstore. Maybe also sell coffee and scones or something. But to make something like that successful and profitable, I’d always be there or thinking about there. And I likely wouldn’t be able to afford the lifestyle I enjoy now.
So like @Kate, I’ve never really understood the idea of a dream job. I really always thought of work as something you do so you can pay your bills and enjoy activities outside of work. I work. It’s hard sometimes. I don’t always love it. I like it well enough. I’m good at it. I’m definitely not passionate about it. My husband and I make good money. We’re more than comfortable. We’re lucky.
But if I didn’t care about money and what it provides… vacations, going to broadway shows and concerts, dining out, security… I’d probably take a chance and own that bookstore.
Kate September 17, 2020, 9:36 am
I’d have a cart that I sell oysters and champagne off of. I have a name for it but don’t want to give it away.
ktfran September 17, 2020, 11:10 am
Oh my god. I would love that!!!!!
Dear Wendy September 18, 2020, 6:32 am
I would patronize your champagne and oysters cart!
Kate September 18, 2020, 8:46 am
Maybe when we’re all retired, I’ll do it and you can hit me up on the beach.
Kate September 18, 2020, 8:47 am
Forgot to mention I’ll have hot guys shucking the oysters.
ktfran September 18, 2020, 9:35 am
MP September 17, 2020, 9:44 am
I used to be in Teach For America as a special ed teacher which I was passionate about and I loved teaching but the toxic work environment, lack of work/life balance, 6 am to 5 pm schedule, and generally being devalued by my school ruined my mental health (which eventually got me sacked). Yet, I used to say that my job was like a dream because of how much cool stuff I accomplished. While I was teaching I didn’t consider it a job but rather thought of it as my LIFE’S CALLING and would say stuff like ‘I don’t teach for the money, I teach because it’s my passion’ and boy is that a great mindset to burn out and kill yourself for a job. Those two years made me realize that a job is a job is a job and shouldn’t be treated as the core of your life or your entire identity. Jobs are literally for making money – it’s so ridiculous I used to think otherwise. I feel like low-pay high-burnout human service jobs like my old gig are oftentimes marketed as a ‘passion job’ or a ‘life’s meaning job’ so that they can get away with burning and churning young people while paying and caring for them little. Now I know better at age 31.
Now I’m a software engineer for a podcasting/media company with lots of nice people and a cool mission and okay-ish pay but good PTO/benefits and great work/life balance. I’m still solidly a ‘work to live’ person. I have my hobbies (travel when it’s not a global pandemic, hiking, cooking, gardening, home improvement) which I have no desire to monetize. I see my job as a way to sustain life and fund my hobbies and help my family. I have a way healthier relationship with having a job now and I don’t ever want to go back to how I used to view working and careers and ‘dream jobs’.
Joanna September 17, 2020, 10:55 am
I saw this idea brought up about 5 years ago, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I agree with MP that it’s often used as a way to pay people less then they are worth. “Do what you love, and you never need to work a day in your life.” “It’s for your passion”. These are just ways to devalue work. It implies heavily that you should work for the works sake, and not for your own actual benefit. It seems morally superior, but its really just a way for corporations to exploit people. Which is not surprising in a country where keeping corporations afloat during a pandemic is more important than protecting the lives of over 200,000 people (and growing. It makes me want to cry.)
It’s also very classist. It separates the kind of work wealthier people do because its a dream job or a calling from the grunt work that lower income people have to do because they HAVE to do it to try and survive. That separation in type of work is then used to devalue the low paying grunt work and undermine attempts at increasing pay for those kind of jobs. You know, the jobs that the pandemic turned from valueless grunt work into essential work.
I’m lucky, I have a good job that pays well. Most of the time, I enjoy it. I have not been prompted for a while and I am unwilling to make the changes that seem to be necessary to gain that promotion. I’m not working 10-12 hour days. I’m not traveling with little notice sometime up to 3 weeks a month. And you know, I may be making less per year, but I’m probably making just as much as the higher level employees are per hour. (And I suspect more per hour than one of the poor guys). I will not sacrifice my time with my family and working on my hobbies just so I can look ambitious or have a bigger house. I’m not going to get promoted, but I’m ok with that.
ron September 17, 2020, 11:45 am
I really enjoyed being a research and also building math models of systems, and being in a somewhat entrepreneurial role, but each of these was only 2-3 years out of a 35 year career. The other 28 years I generally enjoyed being an engineer, but it was half good stuff, half tedious stuff. I think that for 90+% of us, it is best to seek enjoyment outside of work and use work to pay for that.
Being retired really is a dream job.
Miel September 17, 2020, 12:42 pm
(I will preface by saying I loved the linked article Wendy, and I agree with all of it. It just isn’t my definition of a dream job.)
Without the context of the article, I do consider myself as having my dream job. It has nothing to do with money, or what’s depicted in The Devil Wears Prada and other movies, but it’s still pretty much what I’ve wanted to do since high school (and the only job I have ever done since I started at 16 and never stopped since).
I work as a researcher in biomedical engineering at a university. I love solving difficult problems, and my job provides me with a constant stream of those, and the freedom to pick which problems I want to solve. I believe if I were to win the lottery tomorrow, I would still continue working at the same job I have now, because it does bring me fulfillment and the feeling that I’m making the world a tiny bit better, one discovery at a time.
At the same time, I do have a pretty flexible schedule. Nobody really cares how many hours I work every week, or when I show up in the morning or leave at night. I’m fine with my salary, even though I know I could make 5 times as much if I worked for a company in a high pressure position (yes, that part irritated me in the letter from earlier this week). I just don’t see the point in making more money if it comes at the cost of stress and longer hours. I also don’t have long-term employment security, but no one does in this field (wether in academia or industry). It’s fine. I’m not actually worried.
I actually can’t picture what I would do if I couldn’t do the job I have. My hobbies are just hobbies. They are fun, but knitting and cooking doesn’t fill me with a sense of a greater purpose.
I think my strongest argument for a good life-work balance is that I have all of my greatest ideas when I’m away from work (showers especially are eureka-machines). So I have to spend many hours away from work in order to achieve more. But I’m just unsure why I would get out of bed on Mondays if I didn’t have a staggeringly difficult problem to solve waiting for me, and instead I would just have to decide “so what type of scarf will I knit next?”
I’m not actually looking forward to retirement… (but I’m sure with time, as I grow old, I might change my mind)
KatieM September 17, 2020, 12:48 pm
I am one of the very few people I know that truly loves their job. I’m a social worker. I went to college to be a social worker. I have worked every day of the last 15 years as a social worker. I currently I work for the state, in the welfare system. I don’t make a lot (just shy of 56k, in my Boston suburb that doesn’t get me far), but I have excellent benefits, job security, and a ton of flexibility. I know I am a good social worker. Sure, some days are a drudge, but I am happy more often than I’m not. This pandemic thrown quite a bit for a loop. I am working from home and that’s a bit of a bummer for me. If I didn’t have a young son at home I think I would be more upset about it. I miss my clients. I think there is a certain aspect to my job that can only be done when being face to face with someone. I am a better social worker in the office, but I am a better mother at home. In this season of life I am just rolling with what is being thrown at me.
I wish I made more money (don’t we all?) but not at the expense of a career I love and that I’m really good at.
Lovelygirl September 17, 2020, 1:44 pm
I don’t love what I do but I have an amazing leadership team and department staff. I work with some top notch people in a friendly professional work environment. My manager and director value me and what I bring to the team. That makes all the difference. I used to have the dream job but the work environment was so toxic, I wasn’t valued, and the only bathroom access I had to unisex bathrooms that were shared with my male coworkers was so gross. I was miserable which is why I left that department for a lower paid position. Now I make a bit less but I don’t work nights/weekends/rotating shifts like I used to. A decent salary and a good working environment make it worthwhile. Yeah I could be making $50k more right now but it’s just not worth the toxicity and drama in my life. The dream job is what you make of it. Mine gives me the flexibility and money for the things I want.
fl_connie September 17, 2020, 3:24 pm
I had my dream job – hours, work, bosses, co-workers and benefits – and then, the company was sold. I spent an additional 2 years there but by the end of it, I was saying “I hate this job”, out loud, several times a day. I retired.
ele4phant September 17, 2020, 3:52 pm
I like my job, but the pandemic has really made it clear that a bit part of that was the people I worked with. When I’m at home just grinding away, it’s actually way less interesting than I thought.
Still doable, but actually, this isn’t my life passion.
Which has actually been freeing to realize. There are aspects of it I do enjoy that I can identify, I’ve built skills and a network, so I know if I needed/wanted to, I could move on and it’d be fine.
There have been times where I felt like I was my job, and it was terrifying to think who I’d be if I lost it.
Now I know it’s just a job. I job I can do that’s pleasant enough, but it’s not who I am and I could do something else.
Also I don’t miss business travel AT ALL. I look forward to when I can safely for travel for fun again, but I will kick and scream before I have to get on a plane for work again.
Kate September 17, 2020, 6:29 pm
Omg, I think of how much I used to travel and I can’t even believe it. I hate flying too, and I did it sooo much. I do love not doing that.
ele4phant September 17, 2020, 8:15 pm
I had two work trips and then a vacation lined up for March originally.
Bummed about the vacation, the rest of it, so happy I didn’t have to go.
Did the meetings remote and it worked just fine.
Moneypenny September 17, 2020, 4:26 pm
I like my job, at least most of the time! And I like my industry. It’s varied in that there are different avenues you can take within it. I’ve been with my company since I graduated from college in 2007- so I’m definitely an outlier having worked so long at the same place. I’ve often thought about leaving, but at the same time, my bosses like me and trust me, I somewhat have job security (they are always looking for people in my level of experience), I get a month of vacation a year, and I get to work on interesting projects. The projects themselves can be a huge complicated PITA, though, but it’s what comes with the job, I guess. When I do leave, I would like to do something that isn’t exactly the same role I am doing now.
That said, I would not say it’s a dream job. I am not a live to work kind of person. I like having set hours most of the time so that I can have time for my hobbies and things that actually make me happy. I know I need a balance in my life, otherwise I get really really depressed. If I could do anything, I would rather do something where I don’t have to use my brain so much. Sounds weird, but I would love to just be a gardener, or a park ranger. A friend of mine from school has always wanted to open an ice cream shop. I know, though, that if we did those things instead, they would come with their own stresses! But it’s something I daydream about sometimes!
ele4phant September 17, 2020, 8:21 pm
I think what’s interesting is that you can be a live to work person, until you’re not, and then it can shift back. We all go in phases.
I was pretty hard charging at work starting in mid-twenties for a good six, seven years. But then, even before the pandemic I was starting to feel burnt out and having a strong desire to focus on things other than work.
The pandemic in a weird way has definitely facillitated that. Maybe there will come a time when I’m really ready to lean back in (at this career or in pivoting to something else) but for now, being less focused on work is nice.
Our careers are marathons and sometimes you need to slow down and walk for awhile to make it to the finish. Nobody (well maybe not no one but very few of us) can handle running full speed the whole time.
Moneypenny September 18, 2020, 11:22 am
It’s a marathon for sure! When I was in my 20’s and just starting out, I was still so burned out from college! (I was in a 5-year professional program that was very rigorous.) I kind of got my stride in my late 20’s and have been able to grow in my career since then. But still, I’m not a go-getter, must-get-this-promotion by X age, etc. type of person. But I totally agree with you- it ebbs and flows!
Ange September 17, 2020, 5:43 pm
I’ve never outright LOVED any job I’ve ever had but I do enjoy the industry I’m in, underpaid and overworked as it can be. I’m not someone who can live at a desk all day so this is a nice balance of different things and I’m not chained to sales records or unachievable KPIs. The perks have been pretty amazing too: overseas travel, free tickets, life changing events…
But do I love it? Nah. I could love it if I didn’t have to do it to survive.
Allornone September 17, 2020, 6:53 pm
In a perfect world, I’d make a living as an author. Since this world is decidedly not perfect, I think I have the closest thing to a realistic dream jobvfor me- I write grant proposals for non-profits. I just started working for an amazing woman’s homeless shelter that offers numerous wrap-around services that get women, children and homeless LGBTQ+ individuals off the streets for good. I”m only three days into it, but so far, I love it. It’s amazing to have to work for an organization that you really believe in.
Dear Wendy September 18, 2020, 6:10 am
That’s amazing – congrats!
Copa September 18, 2020, 9:47 am
I was an English major in college and told everyone I wanted to work in publishing. (How unique! :-P) I don’t even think I knew what that really entailed, but I went to a great school and felt a lot of pressure to have an answer for when people asked. Which was often. I ended up in law school immediately after graduating on the advice of my dad of what to do in a recession, and knew pretty quickly law practice wouldn’t be for me. Considered dropping out regularly but never did. After law school, worked for one of the “big five” publishers and my entry level job was so boring and paid poorly. Moved companies a few times and am now in legal publishing, so I guess I ended up in a practical, higher earning version of what I said my dream job was. I remember telling my law school boyfriend that I wondered how people got jobs like the one I have now. Is my job a *dream*, though? Eh, not really. I mean, I like it enough and I’m good at it. I played to my interests, strengths, and educational background. My pay is significantly higher than it would’ve been if I’d tried to make a career at a traditional publisher. Though we do have busy periods, work-life balance is usually great. I like that my free time is my own. My previous company was a larger company and had a terrible fear culture, everyone was pressured to constantly stay connected. I routinely worked 60 hours/week and worked every single weekend. I hated it! I was there less than a year and about six months in, knew I’d be willing to take a pay cut to leave.
Anyway, I’m overall happy now. But like all jobs, there are projects I’m not enthusiastic about. Or some days are stressful and long, or just plain boring. I think the problem with the idea of a dream job is that people who believe in the idea seem to think they’ll always be stimulated, working toward some greater mission that they feel passionately about, never feel bored or frustrated, etc. And that’s just not true.
Vathena September 18, 2020, 10:03 am
I was a biology major. When I was a kid, and I suppose even now, my dream job was, like, tranq darting lions and tigers and fitting them with radio tracking collars. Or being Jane Goodall’s BFF. In college I did a study abroad semester in Kenya, in wildlife management. That would be my dream job, but would involve being a poor academic, and I was never interested in academia. My student loan debt burden scared me off from going to grad school, even though science grad degrees typically pay more than the humanities. So I got a job working with research animals at the NIH, and now I’m the manager of a small developmental biology lab and their mouse colony. I started out at the very bottom of the ladder, changing and washing cages, and have some experience with all different species. The science is interesting and I love my lab, but my job itself isn’t always very stimulating. I suppose technically I could make more, but it pays decently and I’ve saved a ton for retirement because I was able to pay off my student loans and not take on tons more debt. The work-life balance on the whole is pretty great, although less so during the pandemic (in the before times, I wasn’t even able to check my email at home). I strongly believe that the people you work with can make or break any job.
etophe September 18, 2020, 10:32 am
I had my dream job – had been working for about 10 years and traveling and finally settled on a path that I knew would make me feel fulfilled as a job. So I applied to a graduate program, moved away from my life and partner and dove in. Sadly, as a result of COVID19 I lost that job. Honestly I had started to re-evaluate regardless. I had worked there for 2 years and it had seriously almost killed me. I was maintaining a long distance relationship (had been going on 4 years of long distance), commuting up to 3 hours a day and working 10-14 hour days basically every single day. And the job was so stressful, had a terrible boss who sexually harassed me and other females and the company did not care at all for its employees. But I did it because it was my “dream”, I got to create art and design and didn’t think I would ever be able to find something else that fulfilled me, I felt lucky and put up with it. I had sacrificed so much to have it.
It wasn’t until the pandemic set in and I was able to work completely remote (something I had been pushing for) that I realized there are a lot of things as/more important than your job. I was able to live with my partner for the first time, ever in our long relationship. I was able to cut out insane commuting in awful traffic. Work slowed down as my industry basically went into hibernation and I saw what it could be like, working a 40 hour week.
I was eventually furloughed due to lack of work for my company. At this point, even though I sacrificed a lot to get the dream job I had and took on a lot of debt to do so, the future of what I want in terms of work is more to find something I don’t actively hate, that I am capable of doing for 40 hours a week, and that keeps me busy. I want it to pay well so I can continue to pay down debt but also save to purchase a house in the place I want to live. I just realized how much more important time is than work.
I don’t know if I will ever feel as fulfilled creatively and professionally in a job again, but I do know that going forward I am valuing different things when job-searching and that a “dream-job” is in many ways a sort of false narrative I believe was sold to specifically millennials (maybe that was the start of it). I think it could be as a result of the relative economic stability of the 80s/90s. I don’t know I also think it applies to a certain type of person more – I am an idealist and a creative and free-spirit that chafes against some of the stricter aspects of our capitalist society so it was an appealing narrative.
Miss MJ September 18, 2020, 2:17 pm
I wouldn’t say I have my “dream job,” I co-own my own law firm with my husband – but I would say that I have my dream work/life set up, if that makes sense. There’s a lot about being a lawyer I dislike. However, I do find the primary type of work that I do – getting people who have not been paid by their employers according to federal or state law the money that they are owed – is rewarding, particularly since a lot of people who aren’t properly paid are low wage earners and easily taken advantage of since they need the job, even if they pay scheme cheats them substantially.
I also really love being my own boss. Before we started our own firm, we both worked at bigger firms, where insane billable hours and travel two or three days per week was the norm. While I loved the social aspect of working with lots of people in the office, I hated everything else about it. Absolutely hated it. I’m so glad I left, even though the prospect of working for ourselves and not having a guaranteed paycheck initially scared the hell out of me. And, not gonna lie, there were some scary times at the beginning learning how to run a business and getting clients and building from nothing, basically. Fortunately, my husband was able to start the process while I worked at my firm job for about a year, so it was more stable when I left to join him.
Currently, we have offices in multiple states, but even before the pandemic, we mostly worked from home and only went to the office to meet with clients or for other meetings and just maintained satellite meeting offices everywhere but our main city for when they were needed. Pre-COVID, we’d take long vacations when we could build them in, even if we had to work a little bit on them, we take off days when we’re just not feeling it and set our own schedules. We often also work 16-hour days and have the stress of doing everything ourselves. But, we’re in control of it, and that makes a huge difference. Since COVID, we’ve been staying nearly full time at our FL condo, because everything is remote, so why not? But we also maintain a corporate apartment in New Orleans, which is a nice perk. Since we don’t have kids, we can really be anywhere we want as long as there is an internet connection.
Are there days that I wake up and want to say “fuck it all” because being a lawyer means dealing with lots of shit and stress? Yep. But on the whole, I wouldn’t go back to working for anyone else.