From Dream Job to Day Job

Or; misconceptions of the survival job. 

Ever since I was a kid, my parents taught me that as long as you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life, so you might as well try to find a job doing something you love.

9 Months ago, I started a job at Actorshop, a creative based company located in London. And it quickly became apparent that this was the dream job I never knew I wanted. Sure, I took the job knowing it was going to be in the field I wanted to work in, and I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I had no idea I could love a job as much as I loved that job.

Every single day was a joy. I loved the location, my two amazing bosses, my everyday work, and the people that came through our office every day. I loved it all. I had never experienced a job that made me feel accomplished and proud at the end of every day, and I felt like pinching myself every time I walked in the door. Whenever I talk about that job to family or friends, they usually ask why I left. If it was such an amazing job, why give that up?

Well honestly the only reason was the fact that it was in London. My visa was supposed to expire June 5th, so I couldn’t have stayed longer even if I wanted to. I couldn’t apply for a work visa either, because I just couldn’t afford to live in London. No, it made the most sense to come home for graduation, spend one last summer with my family, and then move to NYC, where I would hopefully find another job doing what I love until I could either afford to move back to London or until Actorshop could open an office here. So I did! And now I’m in New York, living that Catch-22 life (check out my previous post here).

While I’m trying to pursue my theatrical career, I need a job to finance it. Also known to artists as a survival job. For one week I worked at one of the craziest Target locations ever, before finding the job I’m at now. While sitting on my break the other day, I thought about my Dream job back in London, and then I thought about my job now, and even though it’s not my dream job, I wasn’t unhappy with my work place. Maybe it’s because I’m now what you call an “adult”, with a greater sense of responsibility.

For as long as I can remember, everyone talks about survival jobs as if they’re the absolute worst. It’s not usually specific, but you can tell just by the way someone says “survival job”. The inflection, the glazed over smile… People expect survival jobs to suck out your soul. And I believed it was true. I mean, after my 1 week at target, I KNOW it’s true, but I do think that a survival job is what you make of it. Hell, even my Target job wasn’t THAT bad at times.

The job I have now is both simple and complicated. The company I work for is mainly document and data management. There’s multiple projects at multiple sites, and I currently work at two, one in Manhattan and one at the Bronx Zoo. At one site, I prepare papers to be scanned, in a process called batching. This means taking out staples, keeping track of colored images, making sure things aren’t torn or illegible, etc. And they all have to be organised ina specific way and filed in a specific way. At the other site, I do a bit of batching, but I also go through already scanned images and check to make sure they were scanned correctly, make sure everything is facing the right way, etc.

Both have the potential to be very monotonous, but I plug in my headphones and plow through the work. I like my coworkers, and occasionally we exchange stories, jokes, have a laugh or two. One of my coworkers in Manhattan loves to listen to stories, so every hour or so I tell her stories about my life, my friends, books I’ve read, films I love, whatever I feel like. (It should be noted that I do love to tell stories, and my mother thinks my coworker is a perfect fit for me because of this).

I don’t want to tell people about my surivial job and have them think I’m miserable, because I’m not. I feel like survival jobs are what we make them. That sounds oh so corny when I say it out loud, but there is so much in life that could be better if you just simply choose to make it so.

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I couldn't help myself

The point is, I don’t hate this job. Because at the end of the day, I know it’s a necessary job that I will probably have for a while (knock on wood) and I know that if I come into work thinking “this is a survival job until I find something else” then I will eventually come to resent it. That’s not to say I’m not actively thinking about the next step in my life, because I am. I’m just choosing to think about this job as an enabler, a stepping stone to other things, rather than a necessary evil.

This job enables me to do things I want to do. One day I’ll have a job that is want to do and will also enable me to do other things I want to do. But for now I’m going to face each day of work as a day of doing something that allows me to do much more. Cause a day where I drag my feet to work telling myself it’s only for just a bit longer is a sad day indeed. It’s like enjoying a rainy day. I could look at the dreary sky and hate getting out of bed, or I could look at the rain and smile. Which would you pick?

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Comic by adam ellis

Till next time, cheers y’all.

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