My wife says I got “stuck” back in the 7th grade; that’s when I started working with my brother at a large 76 unit apartment complex in Tucson, AZ. We cut grass, cleaned and repainted apartments for new renters, shampooed carpets, maintained the community swimming pool, and painted exterior wood (garages, porch stoops, and the upper sides of two story buildings). We stayed quite busy.
The job was quite demanding at times; the manager(s) expected a great deal from us, and my brother expected a great deal from me. We worked like we were always in a race against time; speed and efficiency were our watchwords. We were good.
But I think it is quite plausible that I felt robbed of the freedom of my tween and teen years. I worked there from 7th grade through 12th grade. The money earned went for electric guitars, amps, and drums, as well as saving for college, etc. But I am certain it took a toll on me emotionally. Of course, lots of kids in their teens work (more so in the generations past than now, I suppose, but . . .); some of us melancholy types just “get more out of it than most,” I would wager.
My future work life was affected by these 5 early years of work. Since I felt “robbed” of my childhood years I constantly looked for opportunities to get out of work, to find “time” to myself (to do what I wanted to do, not what someone else told me to do). As an adult, a friend of mine (from whom I was seeking possible employment) asked me what I valued most. My answer? Time.
It was not the response he was anticipating.
I was never the person who stayed extra hours at my job; rather, I watched the clock much like a school boy waiting for recess, or the student listening for the bell that signaled it was time to go home.
One thing that makes career issues so thorny and troubling is that they blossom from our personal issues. We want to make the discussion all about work, but invariably, important points in the conversation lead back to our personal lives, and the unresolved emotional imbalances that exist there.
If one is not careful . . . one can find himself/herself functioning in the adult world with the emotional maturity of a 12 year old. And wondering why everything seems so hard.
So, maybe you should consider some things along with me:
- From whence did you derive your sense of the meaning of work? [persons, events, etc.]
- Do you have an emotional complex about work? [“complex” being defined as a string of emotions that are chained to one another, such that if one emotion is triggered the other emotions follow, e.g. fear, linked to anger, linked to laziness]
- If you could change just one aspect of your feelings about work, what would it be?
Maybe there’s a way to find more peace in your work world than you have come to accept. Maybe you don’t have to stay “stuck.”