Day Jobs vs Dream Jobs: Relationship Advice for the Working Class
I've decided to open this article with the following mantra:
YOU ARE NOT YOUR DAY JOB. YOU ARE NOT YOUR DAY JOB. YOU ARE NOT YOUR DAY JOB. Unless you want to be.
Let's think of your day job like a friend instead. A really needy, kind of clingy friend (we all have one). You see each other several times a week, but you don't take them home (okay maybe for dinner here and there when they're having a rough time, but never to bed), you're there for them and they're there for you, and the really important part: they never get mad at you for spending sweet quality time with your main squeeze. That's right, I'm talking about your CAREER.
Your career is your serious relationship. You come home every night to find your career waiting for you, you spend weekends together, and you can bet it's been to bed with you more than a few times (why is bed such a perfect office?). As far as you're concerned, you and your career are married for life, and you'll go on to produce many healthy happy work babies together.
Why am I choosing to separate our job choices into weird pseudo-sexual metaphors? It's because I'm tired of feeling torn between the two options. A day job on it's own can feel like a crutch or at worse, a copout in the shadow of my dream career. Just like friendship or even say– casual dating, a day job isn't binding. Instead, day jobs come and go throughout your life. Some are incredible and leave you with fantastic memories and a lasting sense of community, while others were so toxic you experience minor bouts of ptsd every time you go for middle eastern food (sorry falafel place I worked at in 2013, at least your hummus was better than your management).
If you haven't put it together that my own work life is a rollercoaster, a party, and often caught somewhere between company and a crowd, you'll at least understand why I'm still single...
In a city like New York, having multiple day jobs is never out of the question. Just like the dating pool here, everyone seems to be juggling a heap of work situations such as the office they work in a few times a week, that one spot they only see in the evening, and that recurring random gig that pops up every month or so. If you haven't put it together that my own work life is a rollercoaster, a party, and often caught somewhere between company and a crowd, you'll at least understand why I'm still single...
On the flip side, throwing myself unbridled at my career feels risky and at times, totally fucking insane. Insane in that let's-runaway-together True-Romance way that someone as rebellious, passionate, and various other horoscope-esque descriptors as me likes to do a little too often.
"Fuck it!", I declare, "You are my everything and you are all I'll ever need.", and I grab my career by the hand and we go skipping off through fields of lavender into a golden sunset. And everything is so damn sexy and perfect but then something shifts and suddenly my career seems distant, and unpredictable, and worst of all, not at all what I thought it was. The career of my dreams has turned out to just be another damn hustle among hustles. I was expecting magic and all I got was late rent fees and no free time. Could it be that I jumped into monogamy with my dream career a little too fast? There's a reason most people wait to be married. You are in a relationship with your career, so treat it right, and you'll get to spend the rest of your lives together.
You are in a relationship with your career, so treat it right, and you'll get to spend the rest of your lives together.
After years of mentally battling with a day job on one side of the ring and pursuing a career on the other, I declare there's really no real winner. Just like relationships, our lives are constantly changing and so is who and what we focus on. We may spend over a decade of our lives single cycling through opportunities because maybe we don't know what we're looking for until we find it. Sometimes we get into a long term thing only to find we've grown out of it years down the road. The dream we were counting on disappoints us, and the little thing we made a split second decision on turns out to be the greatest experience of all.
More common: A strong relationship is sustained by balancing our energy and needs with a variety of steady friendships, and that means a successful career is often supported by a series of good, bad, odd, and interesting day jobs along the way.
Unless you sell off your company for a million bucks and spend the rest of your days on a beach in Hawaii, there is no clear end to your career. Having a strong network of ongoing side hustles in addition to your dream job is no different from having a network of incredible friends to balance with an amazing romantic relationship (or polyamory, if you're into that). If creepy Johnny Depp can currently be the face of this awkward perfume ad and still be a world renowned actor, think of all the weirdo side hustles you'll still be doing when you own your restaurant, run a non-profit, or land a spot on The View (hello Whoopi Goldberg's 2015 Kickstarter).
So, I'm writing this to end the self imposed stigma of getting by on day jobs. Because those jobs may be important to you, but they don't have to define you. They give you a space to learn and grow and pay your damn bills on time so you don't burn out your day DREAM by putting it into overtime, or relying on it for too much too soon. That dream isn't going away, it's what you're made of. So scoop those fries, fold those shirts, and file those reports, girl! And think about that sweet sweet career waiting to meet you at the door when you get home. You're gonna have a wonderful life together.