By Caitlin Kelly
Long loud harrumph.
Thumps cane for emphasis.
Ok, yes, of course, often, maybe, if you’re really lucky, much of the time.
But always, every damn day of a 40+ year career?
Unlikely and foolish to desire.
The tedious cliche is “that’s why they call it work.”
The opposite fantasy is “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Ask anyone who’s been in the working world for a decade, let alone 20, 30 or 40 years.
This is also, I know, somewhat stiff-upper-lip generational — and I think an insistence work be “fun” is really proxy for a lot of other frustrations: carrying massive student debt for decades, low wages, terrible/non-existent promotions and raises, toxic managers, coworkers and/or customers (hello, foodservice and retail!)
As I’ve written here many times, I generally enjoy my work as a writer of journalism and content marketing, coaching and teaching. But there have been many times I was utterly miserable, even for a full year — like my last staff job as a reporter at the New York Daily News — where I was consistently ignored or bullied. It was torture.
It was a steady, decent paycheck at a then-respected newspaper, then the nation’s sixth-largest.
But happy? No, I was not happy. Fun? No, it was not, ever, fun.
When I worked for a few months in Toronto at Canadian Press, the national wire service, I had to write up every weekend’s accidental deaths across the province, slugged (named) Fatalities — aka Fats. NOPE. Not fun.
As a trade magazine editor in New York, I had a terribly low freelance budget and a highly demanding boss. Not a fun combination.
I do not subscribe to the belief that all work is, or should be, drudgery. But accepting that even the coolest-looking work has downsides and frustrations is more realistic. Even the best-known and wealthiest musicians and film stars have had work that failed to find an audience, auditions that were a disaster, spent years in the trenches working away before hitting the big time. Fun? Probably not.
I think we’re fortunate if we can find work that:
offers kind, fun, funny, smart co-workers (even one of these!)
respect for the work we do
offers room for growth, internally or a boost to our next job elsewhere
helps other people live better/safer lives
I admit that, at its best, journalism has been amazing fun for me, many many times.
But it’s not a well-paid career.
It’s not a secure career and getting fired or laid off is pretty normal, even if expensive and annoying.
Forget a pension.
It’s often insanely competitive, even within your organization. So there’s plenty of stress and anxiety as well.
What’s the most fun job you’ve ever had?