Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Not Just a Job, it's an Adventu..., um er uh, a Career's what I do
I just had the funniest conversation with my aunt. Actually, it wasn’t exactly funny as in the retelling of an uproariously hilarious joke, but rather funny in the sense of an irritating height of peculiarity damn near its pinnacle.

Don’t get me wrong; I hold no grudges against my aunt. Although I haven’t spoken to her in quite a while and it’s been years since I’ve laid eyes on her, she’s not considered a stranger in my life. There’s no family discourse or major dysfunctional triggers that would compel her to do or say anything deliberately off-putting. Unfortunately, she did.

During our brief tête-à-tête my aunt casually asked me, “So are you working? Have you found a real job yet?”

Without skipping a beat and successfully keeping the irritation out of my voice, I replied, “I’m a writer. That is my job.”

There came an awkward silence where, presumably, she struggled to remove her foot from her mouth.

“Oh.” Audible gulp. “You can do that from home, can’t you?”

Say WHAT?!?
Everything else in the conversation that followed that fleeting exchange is wholly inconsequential. But imagine my shock and surprise at such a question. The disturbing aspect that I honed in on was the “real job” query. Since when did the art of writing not rise to the level of a real job, especially when it earns someone a bona fide income? Because I choose to make a living from the relative comfort of my home while penning articles, writing books and such, does that make me the scourge of society? Am I somehow less of a productive citizen? Shall I be condemned to a life of torture, starting with sideways looks, followed up by tarring and feathering and, finally, culminating in 40 lashes with a wet noodle?

Get over it already!

I write! Mostly culinary writing, but I also dabble in humor, travel and inspirational writing as well. It’s what I do, and I like to think I’m pretty darn good at it. Am I really all that different from the masses? Okay, so maybe I don’t beat the hell out of an alarm clock at the crack ‘o dawn, face the ravages of rush hour traffic, put up with a boss that seems to have fallen into the position of superior rather than actually worked for it, or sit in a tiny cubicle next to an obnoxious co-worker who a) bores me to tears with her weekend girls-gone-wild antics, b) insists I look at pictures of his equally obnoxious children from a family vacation to Disneyland, c) snacks on extremely loud trail mix all day and obsessively reaches her hand over the cubicle wall to offer me a bit, or d) has never grasped the concept of deodorant and smells like he’s been sitting in an onion field for weeks on end. Yeah, lucky you . . . you got me there.

But that’s okay. We all make choices in life (sometimes willingly, while at other times we make these choices because it’s the best solution at the time). I’ve made mine, partially borne out of necessity but mostly a direct result of my all-consuming love of the written word. And here’s the absolutely wonderful thing about the choice that I made: I am so incredibly happy with my ultimate career choice. This is what I was meant to do all my life.

How many people toil away at a boring job—day in and day out, week after week, for years on end—that they despise and gripe about constantly? What dreams have been deferred time and time again because the necessity of working far outweighs the desires of what one wants to do in life?

One of the perks of my glorious!
I make no apologies for my reality: Being a writer is not just a job, it’s a career, one which I fully embrace. It provides a cathartic release, it allows me to entertain others, many days I get to eat and write about food and—guess what?!?—I get paid for it!

The bottom line for me is the answer that I would give to my aunt, my neighbor, a stranger off the street or anyone else who might feel compelled to make such an inquiry: I have a real job, thank you very much.


  1. Excellent post! I'm a writer... albeit a struggling one... and I can't even begin to count how many times I'm asked if I've "found a real job yet". It's dismissive and rude.

    1. I hear you, Coffey. How frustrating it is to have your career choice undermined. Granted, some don't realize how dismissive their questions/comments are (although imagine how off-putting it would be for me to ask a lawyer "Have you found a REAL job yet?"). It really doesn't make much sense....

  2. It's not my fault if someone does not have the imagination to understand what I do. I'm a writer, producer and media strategist.

    The millennial generation is the generation embracing the idea a 'real job' isn't working behind the desk. Frankly, the best 'job' allows you freedom to pursue your goals.

    Working for someone else does not necessarily provide such freedom- economical or otherwise.

  3. Very well put Johann. I don't think one has to necessarily think outside the proverbial box to grasp the concept of work as being anything other than the traditional 9-to-5 go-to-an-office and work for "de man" (regardless of who said 'man's may be) type of position. In fact, its thinking outside that box, standing on my own merits (fail or succeed) and being a bit of a non-conformist free spirit that has allowed me the wherewithal to do what I my career and life in general.