It was in Hawaii back when I was around twenty-five years old and learning how to work all over again at my first ‘real world’ job since graduating college three years prior. I was working with and becoming friends with one of the locals; a kid maybe a couple years younger than me named Dylan (die-lawn). He would look at me in disappointment every time we worked together. He found me to be a fool, and I was. Not only did I never do the job right, but I went about it in the worst way. Dylan would always sit there staring at me as I finished raking a bunker or trimming hedges and say with a thick Hawaiin accent, ‘Will, you gotta work smarter not harder’. I was learning very slowly that there was a major difference.
About ten years later, at the age of thirty four, I can say that the working world seems to be in hysteria. What do I mean by this? Millennials and even gen z’s are competing vigorously for job placement and job credentials. Everybody has seemingly lost all control so that they can have some sort of coveted job title: vice assistant general blah blah blah… Do you really put that shit on a business card? What do you really do? I guarantee that it's a whole lot more basic than you’re letting on. I sent my resume to my sister so that she could take a look at it and maybe spruce it up a bit as I wanted help getting one of these power ranking employment opportunities. She sent me back her full page of corrections. I disagreed with everything. She wrote a whole paragraph about a server job I had. It was quite literally laughable. Why should I lie? If I’m a basic person why try to come across as anything else. It’s like they always say; finding a job that’s a ‘right’ fit is more important than just about anything else. Forget the prestige and power that comes with a title.
Whenever I see my extended family, primarily my cousins, I learn quite a bit about not only who they are but how they perceive the world we live in. Even though they are family it is clear that we grew up in different worlds, but, honestly, it is nothing but pleasurable to pick their minds and learn about how they assess our very different worlds, mainly, the working world. All four of my cousins are part of the hard working middle class. They all have important titles to their name and do, supposedly, very important things. All four are true go-getters and it is fun to be around them and learn from them as they are all a few years younger than me, but have had an incredibly different path to ‘success’ than my own personal life’s journey.
If I’m honest, it’s my oldest cousin Abby that scares me the most. She talks about work as if it’s her entire life. She seems controlled by her own intense work ethic and yearning for an accomplished career. I understand work is an important aspect of who each of us are, but it shouldn’t be the most paramount thing in one’s life. I caught her in a conversation where she complained that her life was getting in the way of work. I stopped her in her tracks. I tried to correct this terrible outlook. Life should get in the way of work; I went on to argue that work is what should get in the way of life. (This cousin of mine does, in fact, have what seems to be a perfect life/work balance… I just don’t ever want it to tilt in the wrong direction); I myself have a lot to learn from her.
My mentality toward jobs and careers is different from that of my peers and my generation. The yearning for success and accomplishment is only growing. The labels we find in the workforce matter to others far too much. Honestly, just scroll through your LinkedIn profile and see if you can even define 25% of the job titles all of your friends list on their profiles for no other reason than to feign some sort of clout or peer recognition. Most job titles out there are complete hogwash. I guess, for me, it’s all about this mentality that Dylan instilled in me… this idea of working smarter not harder carries to working jobs that are simple or basic; Jobs that are easily definable, distinguishable, or recognizable. We have an entire sector of our society that believes they are something they are not. It’s just an excuse to work hard for no reason… something that is simply inexcusable.