Thursday, May 07, 2009


I got my first job when I was 16 and stayed for 10 years. That's so uncommon nowadays as to actually be noteworthy. Especially at that age. The job actually sucked a lot. Some days I would work a 4 hour shift. Some days I would work 13 hours with no break. I was surrounded by angry addicts who were abusive and childish, and for the most part stupid.

I graduated from university at 23 with an honours degree. The day I convocated I knew that the easy part was over. The work? Was just beginning. I knew that having a degree meant so little as to make it almost meaningless. Yet I was proud. Proud of the thesis and proud of those letters after my name. I'd given up years of social activities and sleeping in and being fun and now I had something to show for it: a shiny piece of paper.

That was 11 years ago.

From there I continued on with the sucky job and went looking for another. Something that actually related to my degree, even in a small way. I knew that I was young. I knew that I had little experience. I knew that the knowledge I had was theoretical. But I was willing to learn more. I was willing to pay my dues. I was willing to work.

But now? Well, as much as it pains me to say it, but what is it with the younger generation? Where does this sense of entitlement, petulance and (dare I say it?) laziness come from? The world? Doesn't owe anyone a damn thing. Least of all you, little one.

It seems that colleges and schools now are so intent on building students up, that all they do is instill a sense of non-reality into them. What happened to the work ethic and the knowledge that you have to start at the bottom before you can get to the top?

You have to work. Those 13 hour shifts? Yes, I rubbed my eyes raw because they were so sore and tired. Yes, I snapped at people because it's hard to stay cheerful. Yes, I made mistakes because I wasn't functioning properly after so many days of that. But it was all to a purpose. Even that crappy job taught me skills. Everywhere you go is an opportunity to learn something.

And most of the time? In any job? As well-intentioned as you are, and as much as you might want to set the world on fire with your creativity and brilliance- you're not going to. Not most of the time anyhow. 99% of the time, your idea has already been had, and implemented. Or your idea just isn't going to work.

But that 1% ? Those times when your idea is fabulous? When the world is legitimately aflame? That's what you're striving for. It's what makes it all worthwhile. It's what makes all the eye rubbing, and 13 hour days and mundane-ness meaningful.

But it has to be earned. Own that mundanity. Treasure it. Cherish it.

Love the fact that you're at the bottom and people are giving you crap. The crap? Will teach you. And so will the slightly harder crap after that. And the harder crap after that. And suddenly? It's not crap anymore. It's projects, and output, and teams, and something shiny that is impressive.

But children? The shiny? It takes time to get there.

I know that your instructors told you that with your degree/diploma/certificate you should be earning $50K right from go, with a corner office and an expense account and a company car. But where's the sense of accomplishment if you're handed that right from go? Trust me, it's a lot more satisfying if you've earned it. And no. Reading a book and writing a few tests and essays is not the earning. That's what gets you in the door.

To earn? You have to do.

And kidlets? Whatever you think you're going to get paid out of college/university/school? Trust me. You won't get that. Because very rarely does it happen that we actually get what we deserve in life. And you? Don't even deserve it. Yet. You will. If you work. Trust.

And scene.


Sheila (Charm School Reject) said...


I feel so old when I say "kids these days" because, while technically we're the same age, when push comes to shove, I've got decades on them!

Princess Pointful said...

As you know, I have been in a university environment for, well, a long time. I get so blown away by the changes I've seen since I was an undergrad. Kids just expect As, expect you to coddle them, to go out of your way to make it easier for them. It blows my mind.

And I don't trust people who haven't worked shitty jobs.

Nat said...

Completely and totally agree.

I think it's part school, part parents (but has nothing to do with spanking which I don't think works at all.) The kids just don't have a work ethic.

Jade said...

Amen, Sister friend, Amen!!

Miss M said...

Sometimes I really miss being 16

Random Musings Of My Life said...


Well said. Every word!!

I have a friend that JUST finished school and has been looking for a job for 3 months. And she is UPSET that jobs are not falling at her feet.... Umm yeah maybe I should email this to her? no?

And I agree with PP you have to work shitty jobs to build character..

Floating Princess said...

Amen sistah!

I have an 18 yo who is working to find a job, but his girlfriend has been sitting on her butt for a year waiting for someone to hand her one. I want to tell her to get off her lazy Judge Judy watching butt and actually LOOK for a job!

Kyla Roma said...

I'm probably in the age range of Those Kids, and I know what you mean. Of the kids I graduated with, now turning 24, I'm the one of the very, very few who is supporting themselves. Not having to work for anything? That does something to you!

I went for lunch last week with one of my old friends and the difference of perspective just shocked me - I worked full time while being a full time student and living on my own. I now own my own home and am perusing a career... and I'm totally a black sheep among my friends - in circumstances, empathy for other people (which I also find interesting) and in work ethic.

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