Monday, November 2, 2009

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

I have recently secured a job after several months of agonizing job hunting. The job is not glamorous, but it is one of the few jobs I have ever had where I was valued for my performance itself. That brings the most fulfilling sense of satisfaction that I have ever experienced regarding secular employment. I have very little responsibility and endless busy-work that requires quickness and accuracy. I am very good at it and have quickly gained the trust of my supervisor. I am terribly over-qualified, but am well-paid for what I do. I remarked to a coworker what a relief it is not to be the go-to person in charge of everything for the first time in 6 years. She remarked that it would not be long before my talents would be discovered and I would be moved up the ladder. Then, she decided to take it upon herself to probe into what my talents might be. Her condescending question came, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Her question revealed that she felt my position was indeed menial, and that I was indeed capable of better. I was strangely flattered and insulted in the same instant. The idea of contentment is wholly foreign to the ambitious. In her view, it is quite impossible that I could be truly happy in my current situation—even though that was precisely what I had expressed. Her question was one you ask of a child who has no accomplishments. My accomplishments and my identity are not closely tied with my profession as it is with hers. My work is not my life, it is merely what makes my life affordable. I suppose that makes me a minority. If I was the CEO of a fortune five hundred company, my job would not define me.

I finally hazarded an answer to the effect that my life’s passion is to live a simple, happy life for me and my husband. I have this year seen my marriage reach the 15 year mark. She agreed that was an accomplishment, but dismissed it as unfulfilling since we have no children. She has made it a project of hers to subtly impose on me a need for continued education or promotion or child bearing.

I have not done anything to curb her because she is well-meaning and quite likely in a position to negotiate a promotion for me. I would not object to a promotion, but neither is it my reason for living. I wonder at the presumptuousness of one who gives themselves license to advise someone in his pursuit of happiness when they have not first achieved it for themselves.


  1. Found you via linkreferral... had to comment!

    I think so many people can relate to your experience with your coworker. No matter what position you are currently in in life or work.

    It seems so obvious to me that Americans find their entire self worth wrapped up in a career, their kids, their spouse, their paycheck, or even their clothes and not in themselves.

    I am totally with you. I was a stay at home mom and wife for 7 years before I started my own business (almost two years ago). It never fails to amaze me how people had an opinion about what I "should" be doing when I was at home with my kids - and those that now have an opinion about what I "should" be doing now that I'm working. It's crazy! I'm happy.. so leave me alone! lol

  2. It seems to me that you are the grown up. Few achieve your insight.


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