People talk a lot about other people. I do it too.
I often overhear (and participate in) conversations about people’s careers. I never realized how judgmental we can be about positions, titles, salaries, etc. until I plunged into self-employment. What confuses me is when I hear criticism from people who have indicated that they are miserable at their jobs. It is frustrating but also disheartening, as I also know that there are people who are especially harsh on those that have chosen nontraditional paths like mine. What is this about?
I find it interesting because there seems to be a big disconnect between what positions some folks deem “impressive” and the way people actually feel, in real life, when they have them. Its almost as if it’s ok to be unhappy as long as your title sounds good, and of course, those paychecks keep you looking good.
This dynamic is especially interesting when it comes to entrepreneurship. Even though entrepreneurship is becoming much more common again these days, I still find that people are a bit turned off by the idea. They are usually either completely blown away by an entrepreneur’s ambition (read: insanity) or entirely perplexed by their instability (read: insanity). I have encountered folks who cannot wrap their minds around why anyone would want to commit to something so unstable, hard, and where the odds are against you. And they react as such; as if an entrepreneur is a silly kid who’s going after some fleeting dream that will never happen. I’ve been on the receiving end of it and honestly, it is very hurtful. It’s like the 8 year-old boy who tells you that he loves to sing and wants to be the next Michael Jackson. You smile and praise him for his impressive ambition but in reality, you know it’ll never happen and you wonder how quickly he will realize it. Some people just disregard entrepreneurs entirely (unless of course you’re the Mark Zuckerbergs and Reed Hastings of the world.) Much like aspiring musicians, unless they are an overnight success, entrepreneurs are not taken seriously; as people who took some kind of easy road or who just wanted to shirk life’s responsibilities. Obviously, as an entrepreneur, I’m bias and particularly sensitive but I find this to be to the case more often than not.
Why does this happen? Is it because society encourages safety and stability at any cost, even happiness? Is it because social media makes everyone covet and judge everyone’s life? Don’t get me wrong; I have many successful friends who have excelled, genuinely enjoy their fields and have awesome lives. It’s the people that drown themselves in work, escape to the bar and then talk about others careers and life choices that get me. It actually makes me sad that there are so many people out there who are unhappy and maybe terrified of going against what is expected. It’s part of the reason I wanted to start my own thing- I never wanted that to be me. But why do some people look down on others who go after an atypical life? It is so discouraging when on your on this side and really, it makes the already crazy decision to go after a dream that much more difficult to continue. When people look down on entrepreneurs, artists and anyone else who goes after a dream or passion, this strange double standard is created. It’s almost as if to say, “You don’t get to go against the grain, take risks and be happy doing it because it would terrify me.” Does society not value passion, happiness, or soul searching? I think some people do in theory (“Aww that’s so great for you… I really admire you”) but in practice, I think entrepreneurs may trigger resentment from some people because we are taught that happiness should come second to stability.
I also acknowledge my own unique circle and privilege so it might seem universal because of it. I was fortunate enough to be a poor inner-city kid who received opportunities so I got to attend a private high school and an Ivy League university for two degrees. So now, the people in my circles tend to be from equally, and often far more, privileged backgrounds; Their parents went to college, they’ve traveled around the world, they own homes, their grandparents own homes, very few did not go to college, they’ve never seen the inside of prisons, they are professors, doctors, engineers, and attorneys. Maybe this is the reason I hear so much of this kind of talk? Is it just this world that is governed by status, titles, positions, and salaries?
Why do you think people judge jobs so much?
How do we make it stop? It’s bumming me out.