Early in my career, I felt pretty ambivalent about my job. I didn’t exactly hate it, but when it came time to clock out every night, I was thrilled to leave it all behind for a while. And most of my teammates felt the same way, so whenever we met someone who loved his or her gig, we thought that person was crazy. We’d always ask, “How could you be so passionate about, uh, a job?” And more often than not, we’d chalk it up to the belief that we had just met someone who had nothing else to live for.
Fast-forward a few years to today. I have not one, but two jobs I enjoy. While this will sound like a humblebrag, I will say that there’s a downside to that. And it’s the fact that so many people will make you feel guilty for liking what you do that you start to tell yourself lies about your career.
1. “I Must Have No Life Outside of Work”
OK, I’m not going to lie—I get a kick out of telling people about my jobs whenever they ask. I’m sincerely happy to do what I do, so it doesn’t bother me to go on and on about the nitty-gritty of a typical day. However, as a result, I’ve realized what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a conversation in which the other person feels sorry for you because you like your job so much. And honestly, it sucks.
The truth is that while you might look forward to going to work most days, you very likely have at least one passion or hobby outside the office. So when someone’s making you feel like a workaholic for simply enjoying your job, remind yourself of all the things you like to do when you’re not working.
In my case, it’s a combination of hanging out with my wife, training for half-marathons, and watching a terrible college football team in person. And whenever I wonder if my work is my life, I take out a pen and paper and write all those hobbies down. I recommend you do the same. Even if it’s a list that you keep to yourself, having it written down will serve as a good reminder that you aren’t defined by your position.
2. “I’m Crazy if I Even Think About Leaving”
There’s a lot to be said for having a job you enjoy at a company that you know has your best interests in mind. And I’m fortunate to have two instances of just that—which often makes me think I’d be crazy to explore another opportunity again. In fact, I’ve recently had nightmares in which I did quit, only to wake up and breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t even remotely true.
However, someone I admire recently reminded me that at some point or another, most talented people get approached with new opportunities. And unless the people you work with are the most unreasonable people on the face of the earth, they won’t hold it against you for jumping at another great gig if it turns out to be an even more perfect version of your dream job.
Sure, if you’re in a position you enjoy, don’t take it for granted. But at the same time, don’t sell yourself short just because you’re happy with where you currently are in your career.
3. “I Can’t Be a Good Friend to People Who Don’t Like Their Jobs”
The reality is that even though I enjoy what I do for work, a lot of my friends still don’t like their jobs. And in an attempt to be a decent friend, I want to be there for them. But when it comes to comparing “bad bosses”—I just can’t chime in. And that makes me wonder if any of my friends can tolerate being around me during happy hour venting sessions.
While there are certainly things you should keep in mind if you want to avoid being that person who’s always talking about your job and how great it is, you can’t beat yourself up over the fact that you don’t have quite as many stories about a crazy manager, a terrible company, or a list of tasks that you can’t stand. All of your positions haven’t been awesome, and even though you like what you do now, you can still be empathetic without coming across as disingenuous. It’s as easy as just actively listening to what the person is saying—no need to stay awkwardly silent.
If you’re in the enviable position of having a job you like, I’m sure it’s something you don’t take for granted. However, you’ve also probably figured out that in some cases, it’s not always as perfect as you thought it would be. As important as it is to acknowledge these lies you’re telling yourself, it’s even more crucial to shut down any resulting doubts they’re making you have. You found a job that’s great for you and you deserve to enjoy it!
Photo of person thinking courtesy of Portra Images/Getty Images.