I looked in awe at my neatly dressed fellow passengers. Neckties, shirts, jackets, shiny shoes: it all looked perfect on them. Each conformist customization was clinically clean and smoothened. An absolutely spotless appearance is vital. Perfect if you’re always on the move and occupied. Busy, busy, busy. Within this collective pressure-cooker, we all seem possessed by a motive, purpose, obligation… something. So did I as a fresh ‘starter.’ It was my turn to immerse myself in the ‘professional’ job market. Deep inside, I wasn’t really interested, but it had to be done due to a lack of guts. The promising job-hunt awaited me without subsequent work experience, a functional network, smooth-talking skills and a solid resume. Oh well. An ambitious young man simply embraces any challenge. Not doing so isn’t an option; the twisted treadmill of peak-performance is unstoppable.
I arrived at the yuppie stronghold well on time. Just a little longer and a mostly fleeting role-play will commence. It’s a brief act in which you’re supposed to bravely step out of the gray mass. Don’t stand out from the crowd unless the cultural traffic light turns green. Just act normally. It’s the socially-desirable norm that feels so forced and awkward. Faking it, yuk. I’m not in the mood. No. Shut up. Heads up and straighten your shoulders, you idealistic pussy. Just go. I walked to the reception with firm steps. After some waiting, the manager took me to quite a fancy office. Well, well, well. Such honor. Why he spends his time and energy on someone with a war-torn-resume became apparent during the – unusually honest – job interview.
“Your background isn’t really suitable for this function. Although your resume and letter give the impression that you don’t really know what you want, they also reflect something authentic. That’s why I invited you.”
“Thank you. Yes… I’m still young and looking for something, that’s right. Yet there’s an underlying idea in what I do.”
“Okay, which is?”
* My train of thoughts took off. I knew perfectly well what I want and – especially – what I don’t want. I didn’t want to get swamped in a lifestyle which ‘belongs’, but doesn’t give satisfaction, has no added value or doesn’t really fit your true self. Thousands of words fought each other to be heard. In the end, I said – as usual – a lot less than I thought.
“I think doing the same thing over and over again is too….. Predictable. I just want to experience a very diverse life, which stimulates a creative and unconventional way of thinking. I see a carefully planned career as something… restrictive, unnatural, outdated. I just want to do what (at that moment) suits me best – regardless of other people’s judgments or expectations – and simply go all the way”.
“But don’t you miss the challenge and depth of a real job?”
* I struggled to hide my irritation. As if not-so-real jobs are that fake. Most occupations are simply a matter of learning a trick and mastering it. Almost everything can be learned. In the end, I squeezed a polite answer out of my brain.
“What I just described is very challenging on its own. And you can create that depth yourself. Just from within, from your own drive and motives”.
“How? A career offers so many possibilities and opportunities for growth”.
* Short silence.
“I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it as the best possible way to self-realization. I have gained a lot of special experiences by being flexible and unattached in life. I would never experience them on the career path. They are so valuable and enriching; no real job can compete with that”.
*He looked at me as if I suddenly spoke Chinese.
“Do you really believe that? You’re depriving yourself of a lot of opportunities. You’re doing yourself a huge loss.”
“Oh, no doubt,” I replied with a smirk.
The conversation went on and on. We were clearly not on the same page. Even complete and crystal clear formulations wouldn’t resolve our differences. I knew that this is a fruitless endeavor as I spoke. Apart from his clear doubts about my competence – and perhaps my sanity – I wasn’t convinced about the offer. Not at all. It was a typical starter’s job in which relevant work experience, Bachelor’s, Master’s, courses and specializations were required. Oh, and a whole list of other desirables. So it’s not strange that starters in ‘hard times’ go all out by email and phone for months on end. That an insightful job-hunt can take a while, fine. Practice makes perfect and persistence pays off. But at some point, you reach the point that you’ve had it. You just want to get shit done. Clearly not here, though. We said goodbye and I walked out of the room without looking back.
I opened my laptop once I got home. Whether or not I was fed up with job applications, the quest for a suitable job had to go on. It was an endless prayer. The same hollow words kept popping up in virtually all vacancies. Team-player. Go-getter. Stress resistant. Enthusiastic. Out of the box. No 9 to 5 mentality. I typed Bla-bla-bla-bla in the internet browser and smacked my keyboard. Employers are blaming applicants for regurgitating chewed-out politically-correct tunes while they are no better. What a giant, ludicrous puppet show. After that sobering conclusion, I thought that someone else’s lack of imagination or idea(l)s isn’t my problem. Well… not entirely true. After all, they are the bouncers standing in front of the gate to unlimited possibilities. Without their approval, intellectual paradise remains inaccessible. Bloody hell. Keep on dreaming of Cockaigne. The bill of headstrong disobedience will come sooner or later. Jobs, fake jobs, real jobs and everything in between offer the right of existence. Or a feeling as such. Be careful not to lose your desired spot in the professional musical chairs. Not a real job with real money? Then you don’t participate (anymore). Lost a real job? Such a tragedy.
Having a real job is the meaning of life; just work on it if you don’t get that meaning.