Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rat Race

Regardless of how many internal debates I've had in my head, it will always come up that though money doesn't make the world go round, it does contribute quite a bit to its push and rotation. In other words, we can convince ourselves as much as we can that being rich is overrated but we will always deduce that it sure does have its perks. In the garden of good and evil that we call earth, money is the serpent that tempts people to cross certain paths that are not meant to be crossed. At the same time, money is also the goodness that is endowed in order to go about everyday life -- and then some.

Unfortunately, money could never be the forbidden fruit as it does not grow on trees. How we wish of even the remotest possibility that it does though. Money is earned through hard work, drive and motivation though some would say that adding passion, integrity and loyalty can go a long way. We devote about one-third of our lives to garner a decent living and enslave ourselves to people that are willing to part with money in exchange of our services. Some are not so lucky and work half their lives -- and still not get enough.

With work being a significant part of our lives, it has evolved into a lifestyle or a life undertaking that has been lavishly dubbed as a career. A career has been transformed into a social indicator that determines which circle we move in and which ladder to climb. It has become a symbol of one's life and order that it progressed to become a title next to a name, a label used to be judged with, and a reputation of sorts. As kids, we have always been trained to think of future career aspects. What do you want to be when you grow up? As teen-agers, the prodding to narrow down career choices continues. What major do you wish you take in college? As young adults, the recognition that the end of the waiting line is near. Find a job that will open more doors for your career.

As full-fledged grown-ups, just how important does a career mean? Thanks to the media, the hype of having a career has gotten worse. There are television shows, books, movies, even songs, that get rolled out every single day that zero in on people whose stories revolve around what they do for a living. I can name about twenty shows about lawyers from the top of my head -- even more involving doctors. Movies feature high-flying men in suits all the time and make their worlds sound so glamorous despite the debauchery and profligacy of certain industries. One's monetary worth is tacked against his or her profession and career it seems like. By simply asking "so, what do you do?" one can jump to about a thousand conclusions about the person -- hitting at least five hundred correct ones. Through this, stereotypes are either enhanced or defied.

A job, on the other hand, is.... what? How does a job differ from a career? I never really understood. The social stigma of having a job instead of a career seems to be quite heavy. Nonetheless, both generate money that is the needed for everyday living -- a fine reason to have either one. I have heard many who say that a job is something done for the sake of obtaining a paycheck whereas a career is something more meaningful and fulfilling. Is it only I who find it funny that many a times, a career becomes a job purely because we find ourselves caring more and more about the paycheck attached to it? At least we can quit jobs when it stops being fun -- but quitting a career? When we change careers, do we also change a part of ourselves simply because of all the emotional and mental investments we have made to our previous choices? Do we lose a piece of ourselves too?

Why has the focus on gaining careers become such a huge ordeal? What's wrong with simply having jobs? Why must we only hone one particular skill instead of gaining experiences that we can learn many things from? And most importantly, why must we only choose one craft to master and stick with it through and through? What happens if we exceed our allowed timetable to think about a career? Do we succumb to the consequences of a potential mistake?

People who do not fit the bill of having a career get unjustly punished by society. So what if one chooses to not have a career? Our professions do not necessarily dictate whom we are and what we can do. A partner in a law firm is not much different from a construction worker that frames houses. Both cash a check at the end of the pay period, and both need food on the table and a roof over their heads. The same goes with a college professor and a barista in a coffee shop. Or an accountant and a doctor. Or a garbage man and a telemarketer. We are whom we make ourselves to be and what we do for a living is only a speck of it. We cannot be judged by what we do because that will be similar to judging books by its covers. The world is a place that contests our survival skills and our methods of coping amid struggles. We all have different methods of surviving and coping -- as long as we all get to where we want, sometimes it is all that matters.

A job. A career. To-may-to. To-mah-to. At the end of the day, it is always about what makes us happy whilst trying to survive.

As I have said, in the garden of good and evil, money can either be the goodness that paradise brings or the serpent that brings vileness to it. Either we be content on what we have or sell ourselves to the devil for more. It's all a matter of choice. It's all up to us.


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11:53 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

Well written Princess.

I have long since stopped rising to the challenge of "And what do you do?" I now simply say "I am and happy to be so".

I think a lot of people are too quick to compartmentalise others ... This response fairly puts a stop to it!

I must go and catch up on your last dozen or so posts ... Life has been challenging.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Kati said...

For me, the difference is precisely how much a person is willing to commit to that line of work. For some of my coworkers, our job is JUST a job. I have made it my career. (Not necessarily the job itself, but working in a library.) I feel as though a career is something you commit yourself to & wish to do for the rest of your working-life. A job is precisely what you said, just something you do for the pay-check. And I find that it depends entirely on the person doing the work. I'm lucky in that I fell into a job that I realized that I love, and now I am making it (or, the next step higher up the ladder) my career for the long term. Even so, not everybody feels a passion for their career. With some it's JUST a job that they're investing their life in. Again, I'm very lucky in that I'd love to do my "job" (the actual work of) even if I wasn't getting paid. (Not that I'm going to tell my boss that, or anything. *wink*)

Great, thought-provoking post, as usual!

3:29 AM  
Blogger Jennifer McKenzie said...

There's a lot of debate flying around in one of the major writing organizations I used to belong to about "career" vs. "hobby".
What this organization has done (in my opinion) is put a monetary value on whether a writer is "serious and career minded". Which seems to imply that if your books don't sell, it's just a hobby.
The debate has been heated and intense.
As one who writes because I have to, I wouldn't call it a "career". It's more like a "calling".
But isn't it interesting that the IRS doesn't recognize me as a "writer" until I make a certain amount?
You're right. Money is good AND evil.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Irreversibly Screwed said...

talk about 2 sides of a coin!!!..
though sometimes i wonder maybe life should have been simpler.. and people wouldn't judge each other based on how much they earn or what they do.. but i do wish that money wasnt the only thing in the world..

i just posted something related to the rat race u just referred to.. what exactly we are running after??..

5:38 AM  
Blogger nel said...

Money does not grow on tree?!
hummm ... I must be going about doing the wrong way in life.

Some are not so lucky and work half their lives -- and still not get enough.
That sound like is me alright.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Astronauts and fly to the moon!!!!!!!

What major do you wish you take in college?
Do I need this "major thingy" to be an Astronaut? I thought rockets are just made out of fire crackers ... am I right?!

Why must we only choose one craft to master and stick with it through and through?
Actually, I plan to be an Astronaut and fly to the moon to open an hotel. That my secret ... very entrepreneur me, eh ... :)

We cannot be judged by what we do because that will be similar to judging books by its covers.
Awwww ... that not fair, I luv books with great covers and I don't care!!!!!

... although, I google the defination on "vileness" but it still a great post that got me reading to the end ...

*PING* ... have a nice day, princess ... ;)

10:52 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

I hate the rat race and Im not a part of it.


1:44 PM  
Blogger LADY LUXIE said...

1) You mentioned "to - mah - toes"....kamatis for meeh'...and so i take your word as an indication from the universe that I must cook spags for dinner...

2)I just gave word today that I am no longer interested in giving that training I was scheduled to do for this month.....suffice it to say I just murdered my speaking career...I am careerless...he! he!..I have decided to paint and go moon basking is too short to spend pleasing other people...( I even had stand a certain way and to smile at the pesky clients!)..

3) When I asked about what I do..I say I meditate then food comes along....( kinda' true actually)..

Would you care for a plate of spaghetti?

3:01 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

I had a job that was a career and a career that was a job and all I cared about was that I brought home grand a week after taxes. I hated it but I liked being able to have money in my pocket and the ability to pay for shit. Now I have disabilities from my career(broke back & broke neck) and am glad I had a job that allowed me to pay all of my bills off before I was put out to pasture.

It's all fucking work no matter what you call it Banterous Maximas



5:51 PM  
Blogger Ab said...

i dont know....
i think job and career is important.. and they give an indication as to what you are..
like u know about my current job and how i see it.. but its got its flipsides too.. it says that i cant take orders.. that i cant work in a professional enviornment... and al lot of other things..

but th important thing is yes, doing what u are comfortable with.. and i could never live a blue collared executives life

and money, hey it does make the worl go round.. these days. make no mistake

6:29 PM  
Blogger Princess Extraordinaire said...

SO well written - may everything in your heart come to deserve it...

11:55 PM  
Blogger Libby said...

princess banter...i actuaally think the difference betweeen a job & a career is the passion you feel for doing a career, when it's just something you do because you enjoy it!! those people are, sadly, few & far between!

12:23 AM  
Blogger qofd said...

I'm with you on this one. I went to college so I could have a career and then had kids and decided that I really didn't care so long as I could be a good mom. I hate that sometimes the stress that society puts on having a career often interfere with being a good person.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

Jobs. Careers. Aren't they only words at the end of the road?

Perhaps it is extraordinarily stupid, naive and idealistic of me to say so, but I've always wanted to spend myself doing work that I feel good doing. I know that I'll never be satisfied with a routine desk-job, or even a 'career' which involves me having to live on somebody else's terms. And although I know that my basic needs such as food and clothing, along with the 'luxuries' of a 'comfortable life' require money, I doubt I'll ever be able to let it be my primary motivation.

I won't be able to work unless I like what I'm doing and feel that it lets me grow as a person and fulfil my potential. I'm way too individualistic and too much of a free spirit to be tied down at a desk working my arse off for a fat paycheck which I won't be able to 'enjoy' since I'll be too stressed to even have time to pursue my hobbies or indulge in my creative side.

Ah well, I am young and idealistic at present. And I intend to make most of my idealism till the world drains it out of me.

1:15 AM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

There is vocation and advocation. The are not necessarily the same thing. For a lucky few in this world I think it is though.

5:38 AM  
Blogger drips of paint said...

yep, all up to us.....
every moment is a test.

Money is the force that turns the world since centuries ago and still is and always will...

it is very important to establish a relationship with money just as a healthy relationship is important with the self.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Zee said...

and why can't we just say we're housewives? why must we say "i'm on a sabbatical but i was working in abc before this....."

5:35 PM  
Blogger Nithya N said...

strange that everything running in my head should be transformed so beautifully into words on your blog...
everyone goes thorugh this crisis when he/she passes out of college and steps into that evil world where he/she will be judged every second and mostly by the money he/she makes...

5:38 PM  
Blogger paddy said...

"Money makes the world go around,
the world go around, the world go around,
Money makes the world go around,
of that we both are sure.
(Raspberry) On being poor.
When you haven't any coal in the stove and you freeze in the winter
And you curse to the wind at your fate.
When you haven't any shoes on your feet and your coat's thin as paper
And you look thirty pounds underweight,
When you go to get a word of advice from the fat little pastor,
he will tell you to love evermore.
But when hunger comes to rap, rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat, at the window
See how love flies out the door."
First you have to eat, that is the crux of the matter, and naturally enough you need money to buy food. Unfortunately we've allowed money to ross the line ahead of not only peoples general welfare but before before the consideration of our planet. Do we not hear any bells ringing any iota, inkling?
I am a very cinical person these days and for give me or perhaps have patience with me, for I find calling money goodness stretching the imagination a little too far. I can't even agree with you, that money is earned through hard work, though I know what you mean. I think it more accurate to say today: money is earned through manipulation and exploitation of our passion, integrity and loyalty, and that is the "hard" part.
There are no doubt some exceptional people out there with a vision to build a worth-while enterprise and incorporate others not as contributers but almost as part of a family, and that's the way it should be if business is to be at its best, but I feel it maybe me stretching the imagination a little too far or too much to expect in this greedy little get it any way - while - you can - world.
Yes, career, success, address and clubs to meet to climb drives you to the heights sometimes of "to be or not to be - the bit in the middle - that is the question.
"What do you do" (I can't stand it, when you know it is how can you/do you measure up to being a - great - person.) I'm a personal advisor to Professor Stephen Hawking's. I am working on quantum physics, gravity actually, and when I'm finished I hope to complete for the professor a theory of everything, just a little job really. I'm so rich I don't really need the money. I just love my work with such a passion I killed three of my co-workers last year, a bunch of idiots. Now I have to work from my prison cell, and I'm only allowed out once a week to party"
"O what a shame, to have to work with such fools. Your work sounds so interesting. How long before you get out?" "Not long they got it down to man-slaughter, two years the most."
Careers? Yes, we are to be more adoptable now in the work market. You are right. A Career is or supposed to be something - at least that's what I also thought - you choose because it is what you are best suited, and more likely to be happier, and in turn able, to give it your all.
Yes it would be nice to work in construction - average wage industry - if that is what you like, but you always have some little man wanting to be a big man in business, and to do this he starts up with cheaper labour, cheaper materials. This creates chaos in the labour market. You find yourself working for less and less till you can't pay your bills- which is happening at the moment - with the middle income slowly disappearing the sub-prime mortgage holders are up the ladder without rungs.
Great post, made me think and talk too much, perhaps? I would just like to add. Money I think is not evil. Man is the evil one using it as a tool for power. Power to the people and not to money.
Y;-) Paddy

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Kyla Bea said...

As always, very thoughtful Princess.

I think for me the difference lies in the perception of permanence - but I also think it's a perception of narrative as well. Career implies a trajectory, an overall story arc that's leading somewhere, where as a job exists in that one place in time.

In blogging, in speaking with friends, in the way we think about our lives, I think that framing ourselves in a larger over all narrative a natural tendency if only because being part of a meaningful storyline is much more comforting than being at the hand of coincidence and accident.

11:32 PM  
Blogger paddy said...

PS: Please excuse the edit, anyway!
"life is a Cabaret old chum"

12:59 AM  
Blogger Crushed by Ingsoc said...

In work to earn enough money to support a lifestyle of total hedonism.

That's it.

I'm not going to ever think the corporate rat race is a worthy cause to live for, but it pays the bills, buys me Music, clothes and pays for me to party.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I love what you wrote here, very good.

I agree with all of it; and ironically... I'm going to school so that I can change my 'career'.

Right now I am in insurance. It started as a job, it is now my career; I suppose.
It is NOT what I wanted to do with my life, so I am changing that.

I want to work for National Geographic.

So I will go do that. I couldn't care less what they call it.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

6:07 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

I am going to comment a second job/career was auto/truck/motorcycle repair and i was very good at it and the dirtier and sweatier I got doing it the happier I was in the doing of it.

At the end of the day when it was shower time, the employer paid for the water and I was clean and comfortable again and ready for a few dozen shots of Bourbon and some sleep and the next day.

I worked two jobs, not from greed but necessity so my kids wouldn't have to break their backs doing manual labor. Funny though they are all professionals and get their hands dirty, A is a cable installer on the way to his masters in sociology minor in Japanese culture and language B is a production engineer/C an EMS supervisor. They all make money and for the moment seem to be doing what suits them.

But they are nothing like me yet, I was the best and I had the skill as well as papers hanging on the wall telling people i could be trusted to get it right.

But your post brings to mind a true story of a successful businessman in West Virginia in the US. He won 200,000,000 dollars after taxes, his life went to shit even though he gave a lot of it to churches he believed in etc. He gave up 15 years sobriety, his wife divorced him, he was robbed a number of times because he would carry around up to a half million dollars at a time in cash.

But the worst of it was his granddaughter had been living with him and his wife for a long time and he doted on her. But when the money came in she wrecked cars, he'd buy her another, she spent like the well was bottomless and then the drugs. By all accounts she was drug free until he won and then she got to freebasing and injecting and partying with her friends who, of course sold her the drugs they all used, she overdosed and died at her B/F's house. He hid her body for two weeks, he was only 16 same age as her. The old man still had a few million left but he was broke when his granddaughter was put in the ground.

Job/career/money/tons of/little of/ it all is a struggle of a kind until you become proud of yourself for what you accomplish at the end of the day.

All of those years i spent fixing cars and fighting with foremen and being suspended 80 days w/o pay in a 9 year period...I never once drank because of my job, or I would have stopped...but I went to bed every night feeling like I did the world some good that day. Police had safe cars to ride in, garbage trucks were going to go down the road and work properly and the wheels weren't going to fall off injuring an innocent.

I slept well during my working years and if they would let me I would go right back to it seven fused vertebrae or not.

very provocative think piece here and i felt my first answer a tad glib...for that I apologize.



6:24 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

I'll never be rich.Monetarily,anyway.
Over the years I've worked at many different kinds of jobs,without ever once concerning myself with having a career.It's been a good life all in all.

8:44 AM  
Blogger soul&body said...

some ppl born in gold way, rich, but money isnt the happyness, because when you have a lot of money , you have many false people around you, its important to know the ppl around.

When you are poor, there are friendly people that help you etc..

if you think about the famous ppl, you will see the example. Many divorces etc..
this is how i see

6:25 PM  
Blogger nasia said...

and i was inspiring myself to study today morning..i m gona tell myself i nevr read this.

10:45 PM  

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