“No work life exists in a vacuum.” – Kate Bowles
One’s professional life will always interlace into their personal life. This spoke to me so incredibly much, that I couldn’t help but think about it over and over the past few days since I started this blog post. Let me tell you a story, and then let me tell you it’s taken me this long to tell it in this post.
First, I’ll introduce my dad. I can hardly fault him, the dedicated family man whom is loving and caring, supportive and funny. He is the one man who no other man will be able to live up to in my life. He has also from 4:30am-5pm every week day for most part of my 23 years of life –been mostly absent. My mother was a single mother in a loving marriage. She fed us, cleaned, supported, disciplined and raised us 5 days a week by herself, essentially. Now this is not a story of how much of a father my dad is. My dad was and still is a major part of my sister and my life, obviously. It’s just that the work he chose has required him to spend more time away from his family than with us. His work life creeps in, maybe he will need to go up and fix something on the Saturday, or work so late it felt like you barely saw him all week. This work life was borne out of necessity, not a want. I know he would have preferred to spend more time with us as kids. Now we’re adults, and he is still at work more than he is at home.
His work life is the epitome of Kate’s quote – there is no vacuum. Whether it stems from the economic and work climate in the south coast, where the only work for a man in a struggling printing industry is in Sydney, almost 2 hours from where we live. No work where we are and no affordable living where work is. He has spent 32 years with the same company, something which in this day and age a professional life like that is fast disappearing. The ability to change careers, to change workplace, to change your life and where you are in it is increasing generation by generation. Yet will there still be those who aren’t able to do this so easily?
I have a strong dislike of the idea that your life and personal life will forever revolve around working for someone else. A work life is answering to someone else, forced into relationships with workmates whom you wouldn’t otherwise ever want to know. I have written before about my rut, my loss at what to do with my life to make myself happy, and the people in my life happy.
As Steve Job’s once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do… Keep looking, don’t settle.”
I hate that.
As great as this sentiment is, it leaves out those who have no choice but to settle. Those who start a job at 17 straight out of school 31 years ago, are they able to stop settling? In this day and age when you have no work where you live, and no place to live where you can work, are you able to settle then? Settle or be happy? Can the two words be synonymous?
I want to be happy; I want to be happy in my professional life as well as my personal life. More than anything, I want them to have a little bit of a vacuum – space to keep them separate.
The reason why I took so long to write this is because it’s hard to find put into words the way that the Advanced Seminar in Communications and Media makes you think. Thinking about the skills of listening and appreciating the values you didn’t realise you used in everyday life. I wanted to write about the values, and the exercise of values that we undertook. It was going to be about how breaking the ice to talk about personal actions made me so uncomfortable I forgot what we were tasked with doing in the first place. This post was meant to be about how values are underestimated these days as important parts to hold onto in your personal life and professional. But mostly, this post is a bit of a word vomit of how I feel about a “career” and the assumption that choice can play a bigger part in it than some had previously thought. Maybe at the end of this seminar and degree, I will have worked it all out a bit more.