Four years ago, if anyone had been able to adequately describe what my new job at the Tennessee Valley Authority would be like, I would have told my hiring team "No thank you, very much." If they could relay just how stressful the demands are, I would have said no. If they had told me 60 and 72 hour work weeks would become a near norm, I would have said no. If they had told me how physically demanding it would be, I may have said yes because I like for my workout to be my job. But if they had told me how emotionally demanding it is, I would have said no. Even if I had known how much money I would actually make for enduring all this instead of the offered salary which seem lucrative compared to my current income, I would have said no.
I would have turned on my heel and gone straight back to play ("work") at Whole Foods until my year of deferral was up, then trudged to Chicago for my Pharmacognosy PhD and attempted to live the kind of hustle-life it takes to be a scientific researcher in the present era. But I didn't know, and instead I took the appearingly cushy blue collar job with the good salary, benefits and time-off guaranteed to provide me with my true life goal of traveling the world.
All of this to say, I am glad I took my job.
When I graduated college, my fellow honors friends were becoming Rhodes scholars and Fulbright scholars and going to Med School. I had deferred graduate school to work at a grocery store. Admittedly, I was floundering. Knowing neither where I wanted to go nor what I wanted to do, I withered under the expectations of glory I'd had for my life comparing it to the prestige of my classmates' accomplishments. And frankly, after working so hard for so long, I just didn't want to work anymore. When the opportunity to move to Chattanooga came along, my impulsive instincts kicked in, and I said, "Well, at least I won't be here anymore." So many young people believe the locale is the source of their problems, and if only they were to move somewhere new, everything would be different. Sorry to say this isn't the case -your problems are mostly internal and will find you wherever you roam. But I am among the lucky, and moving to a new place did help.
I love my job because it allows me to do things I never imagined possible. It has forced me to grow up -not necessarily something I wanted at 22, but I'll agree it's for the best, I has forced me to be more compassionate and forgiving. It has forced me to be more flexible and adaptive. And it has forced me to get over myself.
For two years especially, I've worked to put online the first nuclear reactor of the 21st century. It's been 20 years since the world got a new operational nuclear unit, and that's the one I worked to keep online while adding all the duties of the next generation. Armed with only my sterile academic knowledge, I can now rip apart a piece of $100,000 equipment and put it back together again without blinking an eye. If a certain chemical concentration goes under a specific level forcing the plant to shut down within 8 hours, I know how to go out and revive the motive force of its pump. And I can do all manner of things which people who understand what I'm describing see as trivial and people who don't understand what I am describing see as superhuman. I know force, pressure, motion and what it means to break apart physical matter and use the energy to fuel life on earth.
Despite the technical knowledge I'm impressed for having learned, I'm far more impressed with what I've been able to dig up in myself. The management books I'm given to study talk about having a "Full Bucket". A full bucket being a metaphor for a full heart. One that can give time and energy and care without becoming embittered or spiteful. It's very easy to slip into spite that people aren't doing their jobs or aren't listening to reason or are ignoring what matters to please their corporate masters as you probably know. As an Aries, I'm an especially spiteful person -the fact that this job has conquered that tendency in me is a reason to rejoice alone.
It's not hard for me to let things go now. Even if my first impulse is to be snarky or flippant or fly into a condescending rage, it takes only a heartbeat for that impulse to subside. It's not hard for me to be forgiving now. If you're given a hundred things which are all the "Most important thing" needing to be completed on a timeline of immediately, who can blame you if something slips? It's not hard for me to shutout feelings of negativity that arise in myself and in others, because negativity is just too easy and just too destructive. I never thought I would reach a point where I could give and give and give more, because giving more is actually important.
What are the consequences of you not doing you job to other people? Clearly, if you don't do your job, you may be fired and without funds which would be inconvenient. But ask yourself, what would happen to other people if you don't perform your job correctly? If I don't perform my job correctly, at the worst, people could die. At the bad, they could be physically harmed. Both unlikely, but possible. While I'll joke I'm overcome by corporate propaganda, I quote without hesitation "We protect the health and safety of the general public." as mission one. We were founded on three E's "Energy, Environment and Economic Development". To use the resources of the Tennessee Valley to create energy for economic development while maintaining the beautiful environment around us. Even if my job isn't my passion, I am aligned with its importance. And I can keep doing it because someone has to I've got stamina.