Living and working in Washington, DC means that you will encounter one question each and every day, from every possible person you meet – Who do you work for? You might get a slight variation but it’s almost always phrased it this exact way. In the District, everybody works for somebody and is trying to work for somebody else.
I tired of this question about two hours after moving here. Perhaps it is because the effects of the recession have not been felt as deeply here, insulated by layers of government pork, but the job chatter is absolutely non-stopping. I was absolutely floored last week at a birthday happy hour for a friend when her young, idealistic sublet-er talked at length about his work, not his actual job. It was so refreshing in its naivety and enthusiasm, I almost felt like a person again.
Over at Huffington Post, Marlise Karlin posits that being unemployed, for a lot of people, can be a very positive experience and I think this blog is a testament to that. Without having a job to define you, you are forced to start defining yourself in a way that you probably never had to before. I was thinking back to a post from last year, where I discussed how weird it was to introduce myself to people without having the easy signifier of an occupation, but now I wonder if we’d all be a little better off if we didn’t identify our jobs at all.
I’ve been thinking about the young man from happy hour last week a lot. He seemed so passionate about the civic-minded work they were doing and was so eager to integrate his own skills and loves into his day-to-day work experience. He was such a stark contrast to me, where I believe very deeply in the work we do but get bogged down in the realities of my day-to-day job. I’m been playing around with a post about the struggle between a cause you support and a job that drives you insane but this kid, full of freshly postcollegiate energy, made me wonder if I’ve grown a little too cynical about as of late.
New mantra for the week – I am not my job. I am not my job. I am not my job.