Sunday, December 15, 2013

Having a Job

Having a job gives me a lot of power. I hate that. I like having power, but I hate that I didn't have this power before I had this job. I'm talking social power - the power to be believed when I talk about job searches and workplace and culture and what I'm willing and unwilling to do.

That post I wrote recently about job discrimination and coworker conflicts? I don't think I could have posted that while I wasn't employed. Maybe when I was a full-time student, but not while I was looking for a job. 

I guess it's like when I was a student: I was always very clear about the fact that school was not my priority, extra curricular activities and personal goals were more important than my schoolwork, and I would not let anyone else dictate the focus of my life.  But in spite of all of this, I still got good grades, and that gave me power. I didn't face a lot of repercussions for my attitude because I was still doing what I was supposed to be doing. And when I started my campaign against lying by omission in college interviews and doing extra curricular activities just to list them on your resume? I knew I was going to college. With my grades and SAT scores, there were plenty of colleges I could have walked right into. It was easy to say I was against the college-pleasing act when I didn't need the act to get into college myself. 

When I got bad grades my first year of college and was in the bottom twenty of my class (which I HAD to see by checking my grades - Colby doesn't give you the option of not knowing your class rank if you want to feel good about yourself), my first thought was I can't be honest anymore. I couldn't be honest about how everything else was more important to me than school when I actually wasn't doing well. When I got the lead role in a play, which had been my life dream since middle school, and my mom was telling me to make sure I put school first and to tell my director that I couldn't rehearse AT ALL on Tuesdays or Wednesdays because I had a busy school schedule those days, I didn't argue. I didn't stand up for myself and tell her that the play was more important to me and I was willing to rehearse any time that I needed to. I did tell my director that I couldn't rehearse on those days even though I really didn't want to. When I stopping getting good grades, I felt like I had lost the right to my own priorities.

I think the same thing is going on with finding/having a job. I've had recruiters who were very inconsiderate and did not respect my time at all. I've had recruiters tell me to LIE in order to answer questions "correctly." I've missed jobs for qualifications that were never listed on the job description. I have had to be dishonest about certain things (like when they ask me how I liked Colby College) in order to even have a chance. I've seen a lot of job "advice" that I don't agree with, that will never work for me, and I felt like I couldn't talk about how wrong it was because I didn't have job. I wasn't in that situation where I knew I'd get into college and didn't need to be dishonest at an interview. I didn't think I could talk to anyone about how my recruiters were treating me because everyone places getting a job as such a high priority, I thought they'd just tell me that I should be lucky to even be contacted by recruiters and I should be willing to do whatever they say. 

I have power now that I have a job, and it SUCKS. It absolutely sucks because I should have had this power all along. Logically speaking, people who are having a harder time finding a job are likely to know a lot more about job discrimination and other job-seeking issues than people who had an easier time. We are the ones who SHOULD be speaking out about job issues, but instead we're afraid that people will see these issues as "excuses" for not having a job already, rather than reasons. And you don't need a reason for not having a job anyway - that is your own business and it's not the moral issue that everyone's making it out to be. You are not less of a good person because you don't have a job. You don't need to have a job to stick to what you are willing and unwilling to do. You don't need to have a check mark in the "student" or "employed" box to do what you love or to be respected.  I personally don't care what you are doing as long as you are satisfied with your life. And above all, you do not need to earn the right to your own values. Your values are your own.

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