The pleasures of work

desk
My desk, circa 2009.

Is there any glory in mendacity? In having to work 9 to 5 in a cubicle?

I have been thinking about this lately. We all have to work, if we want to live, and so we find something to do — something, hopefully, that isn’t soul crushing.

But sometimes work might be a little soul crushing, or it might feel that way for a day or a week or a month. I’d like to posit, and to remind myself, that no job is perfect. No job is going to make you feel 100% personally, emotionally, and psychologically fulfilled every second. I tend to think that “dream jobs” are just that: figments. Yes, there are jobs out there that might be the ideal fit for you, your skills, and your temperament, but even those jobs do not offer unlimited daily bliss. Even those jobs will have aspects (or colleagues or bosses or workplace cultures) that you dislike.

Perhaps this is the strong protestant in me, but I find comfort in this realization: that even the best jobs are not a constant utopia. Even the best jobs will make you feel sad or frustrated or imprisoned at times. To believe otherwise, that there is some heavenly, flawless career out there for us, is to live in a TED talk–inspired dreamworld.

I enjoy my job (copy editor), for instance, and I feel that it is very suited to my personality, interests, and abilities. I am so grateful to have this position, and I work with an upstanding, thoroughly likable team and have a great manager. But even with these huge advantages, I still can feel frustrated from time to time. And so I remember the little things.

Such as: My cubicle has transom windows, and I have a standing desk contraption that my boss bought for me. (I made my own standing desk out of piles of books and used it for weeks until she accosted me and said, “Abby. This is absurd. Do you have too many books or do you actually want a standing desk?”) My coworkers are engaging and thoughtful and (for the most part) we reason and act similarly. I work within walking distance to my home and to the center of town. I have a nice view of the mountains from my floor.

On evenings and weekends, I work as a calligrapher, and I am fortunate to have my own little studio.

Lovely light in the studio for tonight's #calligraphy work. #aroomofonesown
My studio at home.

My studio is a happy place. I’m my own boss. But even that has its disadvantages. There is a lot of self-doubt involved, and sometimes, a lack of ambition, because you’re not reporting to anyone. It is easy to convince yourself of just about anything when you are your own manager. Many nights, when I get home from my “real” job, calligraphy is the last thing I want to do. My fingers and eyes are tired. My letters aren’t coming out right.

But over all of this, over the dull and tedious tasks, over the irritating moments, I am grateful. I am thankful to have the work that I do, even when it isn’t perfect.

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