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Fear of getting a job?
March 11, 2011 7:21 AM   Subscribe

I seem to have this block, for lack of a better word, around the subject of making money. I'm really afraid of doing work that sacrifices my integrity or that doesn't suit my talents.

"Scraping by" is a phrase I seem to think a lot (mostly with handouts from family members), but I don't want to live like this anymore. I frequently think about work that I would hate to do, but have little idea about what I would actually like to do for a living. I have a degree (in business) but my eyes just glaze over whenever I look at job ads in my field of study.

I just don't know why I have so much trouble looking at it as "just a job." My family, friends, and acquaintances by far DON'T seem to have this problem at all, so they don't understand what is wrong with me, why I can't get going, why I haven't gotten any job at all and why I don't have any money.

I know I'm not lazy; I can work hard and carefully; I have an education and skills. Maybe it's got something to do with low self-confidence or self-worth?

I guess I sort of know what my talents are (mostly artistic), but I haven't developed them for fear that they won't make me money (wow, that really sounds backward and, well, dumb when written down).

I don't know if it makes any sense, but if you have experienced a similar situation I would love to know how you overcame.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (29 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hello, I know exactly what you mean and I don't think you're lazy or have low self confidence. I think on the contrary, you value your time and experience enough to be (perhaps overly) choosy about where you want to spend the majority of your waking hours.

This is what got me through the same situation - taking a part-time service position that you don't care about quitting, maybe 20-25 hours a week. Adjust your living expenses so that you can afford this. Then volunteer at some organizations that you are really interested in - a museum, since you're artistically inclined, or a local arts consortium, or whatever. Make some contacts in that field and eventually, you may meet a friend of a friend who has a great job available doing something you love.

Alternatively, temping may be good if you are afraid of being stuck at a job you don't like at all.
posted by amicamentis at 7:29 AM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think what you need to do is, at root, get over yourself.

Some people are fortunate to find a job doing what they love. But even those people will tell you that they spend a significant portion of their time doing other things as part of that. For example, one of my college professors has said that he'll teach for free, but you have to pay him to grade papers or give exams. Every job involves doing things you don't like, and that's why people get paid to do them.

You seem to be operating under the assumption that getting paid more than a nominal amount to do something means you're sacrificing your integrity. In one sense that's true, because it means you're doing things you'd rather not in exchange for cold, hard, cash. But in another sense it isn't true at all, because everybody does this, and "doing things you'd rather not" only has implications for one's integrity if you believe that you are somehow too good to stoop to doing anything at another's behest.

That doesn't mean that you should just take the job that pays the most money, or one that you're going to hate every second of the day.* There's certainly room for turning down opportunities that you don't want to do, especially if you've got other viable opportunities. You should definitely do your best to find a situation which fits your desires, talents, and needs. But doing that will mean gritting your teeth and doing stuff you don't like. It's just part of the human condition, and the way we bear up under that says a lot about our character.

*Though beggars can't be choosers, as the saying goes, and sometimes you have to do just that.
posted by valkyryn at 7:44 AM on March 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


My philosophy is that it's not "just a job" as long as you can come home and feel like you've accomplished something and maybe helped someone. Creating art is lonely and often with zero payoff. I have mainly done stuff like teaching, where the job is very social and (I feel) contributes to my development as a person. But I know artists who have found jobs that are much more production-oriented and get satisfaction from a daily sense of doing something measurable.
posted by BibiRose at 7:44 AM on March 11, 2011


Implant this idea in your head:

"I maintain my integrity by not needing other people's financial assistance."



When you think that way, any job that gives you financial freedom is worth doing.
posted by abdulf at 7:47 AM on March 11, 2011 [19 favorites]


It may be common to feel this way when you're starting out and don't have any work experience, I remember having similar feelings. Worrying about your personal integrity is likely an excuse that you're using to avoid having to start out somewhere low. Do you have much work experience? Jobs aren't necessarily there for your personal fulfillment growth. You get a job because you need food, shelter and to not be a burden on your family/friends. Right now your personal integrity rests upon the hard work your family does on your behalf. Are you comfortable with that?

Once you start working, you'll have a better idea what you like or can stand to do, and what you need to do to start moving toward the type of job/career that you'll want long term.
posted by skewed at 7:48 AM on March 11, 2011


You are so worried about sacrificing your integrity by doing a job you don't like, that you are sacrificing your integrity to a much greater extent by relying on others' hard work to keep you in housing, food, beer and internet access.

What are you really afraid of about a job?

How about using your fear itself as a motivation?

Go out there tomorrow and start looking for ANY job that you could possibly manage to do - even if you think you would hate it. Work in a shoe shop, or packing boxes. What's the worst that can happen?

While you are working this job you will start to learn a little more about what you enjoy or what you are good at and what you are not. You may see other people doing jobs that you think you might like. You will have more information, and crucially, a head start on learning to get out of bed in the morning and do something. If you really hate the job, you'll have a big incentive to spend time finding another job that suits you a bit better.

Either way, with a job you can perhaps start paying rent and appreciating the value of the things you are currently consuming for nothing.
posted by emilyw at 7:49 AM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sort of in the process of overcoming. I've felt what you describe all through my 20's and it was pretty devastating for a while, especially so after a layoff from what I thought was going to be my long-time career. I'm still pretty much scraping by, but it's a scraping in the right direction. In the direction towards not scraping anymore.

That layoff also helped me realize, in a very general sense, what I wanted to do both for a living and with the rest of my life. Once that was clear, it was a good bit of search and a lot of luck before I found a job doing the most menial tasks related to my passion. After I picked up that part time gig I went out and got a job at Starbucks, because they let me work early in the morning (leaving me free for menial task work the rest of the day) and regular week-to-week schedule, gave me health insurance, and paid me halfway to decent.

That was almost two years ago when I got this arrangement set up. Since then I've been working hard at menial tasks, showing my bosses all my positive qualities, and slowly working my way up the ladder. As that's happened I've been able to wean off sbux, reducing my hours there as the dream job has gelled and grown.

Hey, also common is your undeveloped talents. People tell me all the time I should do creative stuff, and usually I think 'Yeah, well, I could do that but...' where the part after that changes time-to-time but doesn't really matter. I survey the utter failure of even popular artists to fully realize the potential of a medium, and am discouraged because if they can't then what can I do?

Only recently have I realized that the answer to that question is 'something, ANYTHING!' You can do something, you can do anything! and it doesn't matter much what happens after that (make money or don't make money) because what's important is the doing and not the result.
posted by carsonb at 7:49 AM on March 11, 2011


I know it's a trope, but therapy helped me uncover some of my own issues around not "deserving" to make money, not being "worthy of the task at hand", etc. There have a been a lot of good posts on the green about how if you want to help make the world a better place or live your dream -- make money first.

A lot of jobs, even in the business sector, can be fulfilling on many levels if you look at them in the right light. With that money you could work on building up those artistic skills!
posted by ldthomps at 7:52 AM on March 11, 2011


I sort of know what my talents are (mostly artistic)

My advice, based on my own experience, is to be open-minded to discovering talents you never knew you had, by getting a job outside of what you would ideally choose for yourself.

Or, you can get a job at a small company doing X (required duties) and after you get the hang of it, demonstrate to management how you bring added value to the organization by designing the company newsletter or preparing some marketing material.

I think a major step to improving your self-confidence, if that is what you feel the source of the issue is, would be to stop taking handouts from family. Get a job at a fun, low-stakes sort of place that doesn't compromise your values but allows you to live on your own and start saving money.
posted by cranberrymonger at 7:55 AM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you ever had a job in your field of study? What jobs have you had in any field? What are the things you've worked hard and carefully at?

From what you've told us, it sounds to me like you don't really know what you are good at, or what you like doing. You are't going to figure it out without trying some things that you might not like and you might not be good at. There are lots of ways to get that experience, including volunteering, as amicamentis suggests.

Also, keep in mind, post-college life can feel like a second adolescence, and a huge economic recession doesn't help things.

Oh, and this business degree, what did you get out of it? There are a lot of fields where a little bit of basic business knowledge can make a big difference. As just one example, lots of small organizations need a part time bookkeeper. Sometimes they farm it out, sometimes it's the responsibility of someone who has other duties more closely related to the organization's reason for being. Either way, it can be an opening that let's you peer inside and learn more about what the jobs might be that you'd actually like to do.
posted by Good Brain at 7:56 AM on March 11, 2011


First, without trying to sound harsh or snarky, even the worst job that allows you to support yourself has more dignity than surviving "mostly with handouts from family members." It is simply not right to burden your relatives with obligations that are your own, and the potential to damage your relationships because of it is huge.

Now the philosophical: I have done work that I have loved, and that I have hated, sometimes within the same job. My outlook is this: Working an honest job to pay your bills is inherently a noble pursuit, and nothing to be ashamed of. This is in addition to it being your responsibility to do so to the best of your ability.

Also, even when I see my job as "just a job," I look at it this way: my job is what makes it possible for me to pursue "bigger things" such as art, travel, life experiences, time with friends and family, etc. Because of my job, I can create for the joy of creating, without worrying about creating something I can sell.
posted by The Deej at 7:57 AM on March 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, it might take upwards of 10 years worth of menial nonsense before you find yourself in the place you feel you are "meant to be." You can't just insert yourself into an ideal job because you simply don't have the experience. Start getting experience - any experience! You can turn anything into a good job interview story that can help you land the next job.
posted by cranberrymonger at 7:57 AM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right now, your "job" is asking for handouts from your family and friends. You've been able to do that and somehow that doesn't sacrifice your integrity in your eyes.

You don't have to like your job. That's a luxury. And when you're starting out, you probably won't like it until you have enough experience to be your own boss or set the tempo and direction of your own output. Maybe you'll never get there. But that's what allows you to be independent, to pay your own bills and not take money from your family and friends...and that has integrity.

The way I see it, it may not have entirely something to do with you having low self-worth. You may value yourself so highly that you feel some work is beneath you. But it's not. Unless you're working for an Enron or another odious company, it's not beneath you. Get your foot in the door. Help you help yourself.
posted by inturnaround at 8:05 AM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really afraid of doing work that sacrifices my integrity or that doesn't suit my talents.

First, there's nothing wrong with avoiding jobs that don't suit your talents, because if a job isn't a good environment for you, it will just make you (and your employer) unhappy.

However, unless your job involves embezzling money for your boss, dumping chemicals into the river, or forcing people out of their homes, jobs don't typically involve sacrificing your integrity.

I think there's some guilt tied up with wanting a job that makes good money. Some people are lucky enough to have a job that's strongly tied in with their personal identity. But part of "integrity" involves the freedom to define yourself and live as you choose, and that is allowed with the freedom that comes with being able to support yourself.

I guess it would also help if you elaborated on why you have a "block" about making money-- is it money itself you feel guilty about, or is it other stuff regarding jobs that you have problems with, ultimately resulting in not having money?
posted by deanc at 8:27 AM on March 11, 2011


I've spent four years in a job I initially hated but slowly grew to feel neutral about, in a company I initally felt neutral about but whose ethics I gradually grew to dislike.

I didn't know I had the skills or interest in my field until I started working in it. I too thought I was all 'creative' and 'artistic' but turns out I'm good with data and problem solving, too, I'd just never challenged myself. And there's a lot more money to be made in those fields than in the arts, let me tell you. It doesn't stop me doing arty shit in my free time - quite the opposite, it means I actually have disposable income to do that with!

The experience I garnered in those first years has now landed me a similar neutral job but with a company I am crazy about, and with whom I am confident I will be able to move into a job I am equally crazy about.

What I'm saying is, with all due respect - suck it up. Get a job - any job - in as good a company as you can manage. Don't be blinkered by your 'business' degree: degree name is irrelevant as long as you can prove you have the skills that degrees teach.

Make a game plan. Who do you really want to work for? A company? Yourself? Work towards that, whether that's getting the work experience your dream company needs, or saving the cash you need to start your petting zoo.

It's easy to have 'integrity' when someone else is paying the bills - but no one walks into their dream job on the first day. Personal integrity can be a long-term goal, as well as a day-to-day ideal.
posted by citands at 8:32 AM on March 11, 2011


I'm really afraid of doing work that sacrifices my integrity or that doesn't suit my talents. ... I just don't know why I have so much trouble looking at it as "just a job."

This blog post (by Penelope Trunk) had a big effect on my outlook, and it might be useful to you: Bad career advice: "Do what you love."

Another thing your post reminds me of is an anecdote in Chapter 2 of Your Money or Your Life. It's about someone named Jason, who had a countercultural, anti-money life philosophy. He deliberately avoided getting a "real job." The result was that the lack of income caught up with him, forcing him to flail away looking for any odd jobs he could come up with since he was so desperate to have enough money to get by. His radical ethos caused him to be all the more tied down by material things:
Jason's "money isn't important" attitude was just as limiting as [his girlfriend] Nedra's search for happiness in tangible possessions. Because he refused to participate in the standard cultural job-and-money game, his choices in life were severely limited. He found that he spent more time in making do and making trades than he would have in working at a steady job.
posted by John Cohen at 8:34 AM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just don't know why I have so much trouble looking at it as "just a job."

You don't. You have a problem with your definition of "integrity" and maybe an issue with rationalizing so you don't have to do what you don't want to do.

I do a lot of things in my day to day life I am not necessarily enthused about or even always agree with. But they are in support of the larger purpose of the organization which is a mission (education) that I feel strongly about.

I could choose to look at supporting tasks and goals I think are flat-out bad choices as violating my integrity but instead I remind myself that the folks at the top get to pick the ways we support the larger mission. I can exercise guidance at the levels below me. If I dislike the choices being made there's a solution: get to a level where I help direct them.

Which points out the other way you might try looking at this to help kick-start you into action: at the moment you impact the direction of diddly shit. We exercise our integrity by being a part of making the world more like what we want. Few of us get to have 100% control but if we're doing nothing we're for sure not having an impact.

There are times when it's entirely appropriate to choose not to participate in something you find to be wrong. I left a consulting firm where the overarching tasks often amounted to taking government money to keep incompetent or lazy people in their jobs. Some folks figured it was beyond our control to impact this - true - and that if we weren't the ones taking the money then someone else would be - true - and so we may as well be those people. That last point I disagreed with, and I voted with my feet.

So by all means, don't go work somewhere you think is making the world a worse place. Don't take a job doing something wrong for you. But if you have enough opinions to believe somethings are ethical and some things aren't then you can find something doing something you consider, on the whole, good. The question is whether you're making excuses to avoid doing so.
posted by phearlez at 8:46 AM on March 11, 2011


I used to struggle with this sort of thing. The way out is to recognise that right now you're a bum, and doing pretty much anything beats being a bum. There's no integrity at all involved in what you're doing kicking like this; you really need to decide to grow up, and just do it. It really is that simple.

Lots of people (most, probably) work at unexciting jobs to finance other pursuits in the evenings and weekends. You are not special; you are not eligible for any sort of exemption from this basic bit of adulthood. (If this were the case and you were one of the talented rarities who did merit a different path, it would already have been made quite obvious and you would not be "scraping by.")

You sound insufficiently embarrassed right now about your situation. Relying on handouts...wouldn't you rather put yourself in a position to be the one giving rather than taking, no matter how unimpressive the labour undertaken to get there was? It is cool to ask for and to receive help when it's needed, but. Move forward; you will be much happier as a grown-up.
posted by kmennie at 10:59 AM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I know where you're coming from - you feel if your job isn't contributing "to the greater good" by making the best use of your talents, or is somehow meaningful, you're actually "part of the problem"/making the world a worse place. It does help to remember that you are not your job (thinking otherwise is dehumanizing; would you dehumanize anyone else by thinking of him or her that way?) and the money you make can support any artistic endeavors. Getting away from all-or-nothing, perfectionist thinking will also help you.

Are you familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator testing? A sample outcome: the INFP type. "The INFP needs to feel that everything they do in their lives is in accordance with their strongly-felt value systems, and is moving them and/or others in a positive, growth-oriented direction. They are driven to do something meaningful and purposeful with their lives."
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:01 AM on March 11, 2011


I'm really afraid of doing work that sacrifices my integrity or that doesn't suit my talents.

This is a valid concern. But I would suggest that doing nothing also sacrifices your integrity and doesn't suit your talents. If trying to figure out what is the right thing for you is causing you paralysis, I'd stop relying on "figuring it out" as a mode of getting a resolution and switch to "get out there and try stuff".

I just don't know why I have so much trouble looking at it as "just a job."

Most jobs you can look on as serving some or other group of people, meeting some or other need in the world. If you're just working checkout at the supermarket, well you are doing something that is essential to people feeding their families. You can view that as menial, or you can view it with pride and do it as well as you can. The latter is satisfying, the former will drive you nuts whatever the job.
posted by philipy at 11:09 AM on March 11, 2011


I'm really afraid of doing work that sacrifices my integrity or that doesn't suit my talents.

Well let's say that unemployment is not an option. Let's say that you couldn't depend on handouts and that you absolutely need a paycheck in order to literally survive. After all that is the reality for a lot of people. What would you do then?

You would get a job. It might not be a job you can impress people at parties with, you might work for people you don't like very much, and you might not have a lot of fun doing it, but you would have a job. Then once you're in a not-that-great job, you have a big motivator to get the hell out of there and find something better. And eventually you end up in a job that still may not be perfect but isn't worth leaving for something else. What you lack right now is a significant motivator to move from no job to not the best job, and you have to provide that motivation yourself.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:39 AM on March 11, 2011


I do somewhat recognize the phenomenon, and my own track-record has been atrocious in terms of ability to support myself - not through reluctance to work, but through a combination of not consistently being able to earn enough to support myself, and of being very inefficient with such money as I have been able to earn. I am not coming from the same place you are, but I think I might be able to guess at what place you might be coming from? Maybe.

In some of my social circles it is considered rather tainted to earn money as wages imputed from production, rather than to receive minimal subsistence allowance in the form of grants or stipends from funding bodies. The unspoken assumption seems to be that it is okay to receive money in exchange for work done - as long as you don't take too much - but not to earn it per se. I was often the sole commercial-sector-working person in the group, so often felt marginalized by the discourse.

I have also had friends who considered it shameful to admit that money was needed in order to survive each day. One such friend admitted to me that sex and money were the two severely taboo topics in her household, and that she had only realized this when packing for an extended trip to Burkina Faso. Her mother had asked her whether she had enough money to manage on the trip; in fact, she had no money whatsoever and did not know how she was going to feed herself, but was reluctant to admit this before she left in case her mother tried to give her the money. Mind you, this friend was never loath to take such jobs as she was capable of doing to pay her way, despite always being careful to take poorly-paid jobs.

I don't know if any of this applies to you or not, but that's the context in which I have seen similar notions expressed, so maybe some of it rings a bell with you? Maybe, maybe not?

As to what you could do to motivate yourself: You could motivate yourself by asking yourself why working to provide for you is good enough for your relatives, but not good enough for you.

What are you doing for your relatives in exchange for all their support while you ponder the question (a difficult one given that you have very little experience on which to base it) of the most enjoyable and honourable of all possible ways to contribute your (undeveloped and nebulous) artistic talents to the world?

I have to add that your fear of making (too much/any) money out of your talents is probably entirely unfounded. It's rather like having a fear of collecting your pants from the dry cleaners in case you discover that the jackpot-winning lottery ticket has been placed in the pocket by persons unknown. Similarly, I think my angst-ridden friends might have gotten a surprise if they'd woken up one day and said, "nerts to all this compulsive self-deprivation, I do hereby decide to have a high-paying job from now on!"
posted by tel3path at 2:59 PM on March 11, 2011


Have you talked about this with the people you are taking $$ from?
posted by tiburon at 4:39 PM on March 11, 2011


Did you really use "sacrifice my integrity" non-ironically? You lazy mooch, get off your ass and earn money to pay for your own expenses. Sure getting a job might mean you'll have less time to play WOW, or drink coffee, or learn the bass, or whatever hobby you have this week.

If you were my kid I'd have you at the recruiting station and you'd be out of my hair. Grow the FUCK up. People like you give hard-working young adults a bad name. Spend a bit of time doing hard physical labor, you'll learn to appreciate just how nice it is that an education can keep you from doing work that breaks down your body by the time you're 40.

If nothing else, teach English overseas, maybe seeing some 12 year old kids sewing the sneakers that you wear, who would give anything for the life you've had, will knock some sense into you.
posted by JohntheContrarian at 9:09 PM on March 11, 2011


A lot of people choose their work based on their values, not to have just a job that makes money. Maybe it's time to figure out what kind of job will allow you to maintain your integrity as you see it.
posted by slidell at 12:01 AM on March 12, 2011


I can relate. It's a natural reaction to being forced to participate in a market economy which to a large extent produce unnecessary and bad stuff and do so at the cost of environmental sustainability, and in which a lot people who could participate in creative and meaningful stuff are forced to do repetitive and pointless stuff nine to five due to skewed resource distribution. I propose the following strategy: (1) Put a serious effort into minimizing your expenditures and live a minimalistic life, (2) either work part time or save like 50% of your income and (3) while doing 1 and 2 put all of your soul into your spare time, attain new skills, search intensely for a career compatible with your values and/or plan early retirement.
posted by okokok at 7:32 AM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Calling the OP names such as "lazy mooch" when s/he clearly stated that this isn't a matter of laziness is unhelpful and unfair.

Sadly, the Puritan work ethic that dominates discussions of work and leisure - especially in the USA - is so widely accepted, and so rarely questioned, that even the mildest indication of resistance to it can get you branded a "slacker" or "lazy" so fast that it'll make your head spin. According to this ideology, having a paid job - or at least displaying the willingness to take a job, ANY job, regardless of what kind of job it is or how exploitative or ecologically destructive it may be - is what makes people worthy, and an indication of good character. While I am not inherently "anti-work," I don't agree with this view, to put it mildly.

There's not a thing wrong with you, OP. As a fellow creative person, I can relate. There's nothing wrong with wanting to work with integrity and do something meaningful. (Frankly, I wish more people did. I think we need a lot more people who have an ecologically driven ethic of care, and a lot less who are driven by a knee-jerk "work ethic.") I don't think this is an issue of low self-worth at all.

However, the unfortunate fact remains that actually having work you enjoy in this culture is a luxury.

"Do what you love, the money will follow" is, for most people, a complete falsehood. You may not be able to find a job that suits your talents and is aligned with your values, no matter how hard you try. Many people cannot. That isn't because you're inherently flawed - it's because that's not what jobs are for, from a structural/systemic perspective. Jobs facilitate commerce and development. Whether or not individuals in these jobs derive enjoyment from them is incidental, as long as the work gets done. And furthermore, there aren't even enough of these jobs to go around for everyone who is competing for them anyway, due to the effects of structural unemployment and recession and systemic financial problems and all kinds of other factors. It's not you; it's just the nature of the beast.

I'm with okokok - I think what you're calling "fear of getting a job" is an understandable and rational response to the realization that, unless you're okay with your loved ones providing your financial support indefinitely while you develop your creative skills and try to bring in money that way (and they're okay with it too, which it sounds like they're not), you will probably have little choice but to try to shoehorn yourself into a job in the market economy somewhere, somehow, so that you can earn money to support yourself. In other words, you're in the same boat as most of us.

If you're serious about developing creative and artistic skills, I second the strategy recommended by okokok. Minimize expenses, live as simply as possible, and try to find a decent (not perfect, just decent) day job that will subsidize your creative pursuits so you can pursue them in your off hours. Creative pursuits are valuable whether or not they make money. Eventually they might make you some money, or they might not. Either way, you'll still need money, so do what you must. You might even find that the structure of a job is good for you in ways you couldn't have predicted, and can help you develop habits that will enhance your creative work.

Good luck! Feel free to MeMail me for moral support.
posted by velvet winter at 4:58 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I sorta, kinda understand where you're coming from... but just sorta kinda. I've always made money for myself, however, so did contract/temp work for a long time so that I didn't have to rely on handouts.

Bear in mind that you will likely never love all aspects of any job, or any endeavour for that matter. My partner uses the analogy of cabinetmaking (which he loves) but having to sand (which he hates) to get to the end of a project. Sanding is absolute drudgery, but it is a necessary part of cabinetmaking as a whole. With that in mind, he finds a way to get through sanding. I think perhaps you need to take the same attitude when looking for a job.
posted by braemar at 5:25 PM on March 12, 2011


As far as the talent bit goes, read this and this. It might help you reframe your search for a career.

Regarding integrity - I've had some feelings that I think are similar. It really is depressing that a lot of the best-paid jobs in our economy amount to funneling money from the many to the few via complicated shell games. If you're really concerned about causes like inequality, I think there are basically three routes you can take:
  1. Disengagement. Choose your job (or start a job, if you're interested in being an entrepreneur) to mitigate its ethical impact. Education and academia are common choices because they're not driven by the profit motive in the same fundamental way. Services that deliver stuff that basically everyone needs (food, medicine, plumbing, electricity) can be another good choice.
  2. Give your time directly. Work for a political group or nonprofit that is dedicated to your issues of choice.
  3. Give your money. Work at some job where you make more than enough money doing whatever, then tithe some of it back to the causes that you feel are strongly important.
None of these are unambiguous, of course -- if moral decision-making was easy then there would be even fewer philosophers -- but if you really want to find a lifestyle that aligns with your inner compass, it might be helpful to think through your options systematically.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:10 PM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


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