Monday, December 07, 2009

Enjoying your work?

I've been thinking, lately. A scary thought, I know. What initiated this chain of thought was a moment on my school bus, a moment when I realized that I thoroughly enjoy this job. The hours are not oppressive, the pay is good (since I've been doing it 26 years), and the girls who ride my bus are wonderfully polite and mature. And I simply enjoy the physical act of driving a school bus.

It's a familiar scene: someone born in the mid-20th century gives advice to someone around 20 years old. "Listen, life is short," he says. "Find something to do with your life that you will enjoy!" Of course, following this instruction is problematic. We all want to do fun things, even at work. Being able to match up one's interests with an available and suitable job is tough. Most of us aren't too successful at pulling this off.

Coming out of high school, I was sure I wanted to teach. Nothing during 4 years of college diluted this goal. I enjoyed the subjects in which I had majors (English, History) and I looked forward to working with students. My student teaching assignment was pleasant and reaffirmed my plans. I got my military commitment out of way, returned to Texas, and was hired by the Dallas ISD.

Long story short. The negative factors of being a teacher in a large, urban middle school far outweighed the warm fuzzies I got from working with the kids. I had numerous discussions with Carole as the years went by...could we afford it if I moved to a private school...should I change careers somehow...ironically, she was saddled with a job that paid well, but was mentally and physically oppressive.

Fast forward to 2004. Carole retires after 34 years, having stayed with the same job. Two years later, I retire, never having changed jobs. I guess what we proved is that one can stay with a job that one doesn't particularly like most days and absolutely abhors on the rest of the days, and somehow survive and reap the financial rewards for having stayed the course. Of course, we leaned heavily on God and each other and were absolutely committed to doing what was best for our kids.

So what does one tell the 20 year-old? Chase your dream and find something totally fulfilling? Or understand that most folks don't get that lucky and wind up doing the best they can at something which brings way fewer thrills?

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