I had a revelation a few weeks ago: careers are a scam. My generation has been bamboozled into thinking that a career is the best thing since sliced bread, and that we should all pursue it at all costs. We spent our early years with a constant refrain: "go to college, get a degree and start your career. work hard and you'll be rewarded!"
Implied in that message about getting degrees and having a career was a message of what not to do: don't just settle for having a job, because a job isn't as prestigious or important as a career. Unlike most of our parents, who worked the same job for 30+years, we'd have a career and all the other shiny accompaniments - the salary, the retirement plan, the title, and the company car.
Yeah...I've realized that was all bullshit. And now, eleven years after I first started my career journey, I'm ready to just have a job. Yall can keep this "career" nonsense. It's all a swindle and I'm tapping out.
For a lot of us, having a career means being invested in the work in a deep way. It was a motivation to get us to get a company phone (or access our work email on our personal devices), so we could always check in and answer questions. It drove us to work remotely on weekends or in the evenings, or even take a call or two while on vacation, because we knew we needed to get the work done. It led us to sign up for extra projects, or put in more face time in the office, in order to get that promotion to the next level.
But at what cost? What did working all those extra hours get us? How about logging on while we were on vacation? Maybe a promotion, but most likely all it got us was a brief "good job" if we were lucky. We did it cause it was expected of us, and because our peers were all doing the same thing. To do less than the extra was to be at a disadvantage, to be seen as less dedicated to the work. And so we fall in line with everyone else.
I've never been one who enjoyed working a lot - work/life balance was important to me even when I was a single woman. But now, as a wife and mother, I value my time outside of work even more than ever. My daughter already spends so much time without me, I don't want to spend the limited I time with her working instead of playing. And while work is fulfilling, and I'm glad I'm a working mother, my priorities are to my family first and work second. Work allows me to have the lifestyle we have, but it does not define me. It's a means to an end.
And so, I'm dropping out of the race. I will show up on time and complete my work. I will go to meetings and give suggestions. I'll even bring a store-bought item for the team potluck and a gag gift for the gift exchange. But I will not give my nights and weekends to the work. I will not grab my phone to check email. When I walk out the door at the end of the day, I will give work zero thought; instead I'll be focused on my family, and my personal pursuits. For me, it's a better use of my time, and much more valuable to me.