Wednesday, March 2

Dreams And Idealisms

Ok, I admit the title was chosen just to get the attention of a certain few, but it has a certain relevance, or I'll at least shoe-horn one in somehow. Anyway.

Today a mate was telling me how he hated the job he was in, and how he didn't think he was capable of getting one that he actually wanted. Now although he was in the position the majority of us find ourselves in (I'm not sure I know anyone who is in their perfect job - but then we're never really satisfied with anything, are we?) he seemed quite disturbed by the futility of it all.

Ideal jobs are all well and good, I explained, but realistically they're quite hard to get. For a start some of us might not even know what our perfect jobs are. And even if you did, you might feel it's not in your power to get it (personally I'm of the "if you want it bad enough you can achieve anything" school of thought, so I disagree with that reasoning. You're just being lazy, but that's another blog).

A perfect job is only really relevant if your career is the one thing that defines who you are as a person. And yes, for some that's exactly what it is and they're the ones I'd say are truly happy with their careers. For others though, work is merely a means to an end; a way for parents to feed their kids, pay for Sky and keep the electricity running.

For these people it doesn't matter what they do, they're being fulfilled by the (indirect, yet to them, massively important) fruits of their labour. It's why some mothers may not need a successful career (in the traditional sense, my militant feminist readers) to be happy. However, for many of us with no spouse or kids to support work might really be all that we have, and so we might feel a little unfulfilled if it's not the ideal. It's what defines us and so if it's, well, crap, then by implication so are we.

But does it really have to be our main defining quality? Ok, so we may not have the families who I mentioned above. But that was just an example; there is a plethora of extra-curricular activities which we could use to fuel our being instead. Language classes, sports, hobbies, volunteering and religion are all things which might help us find a non-work-related identity. And there are many more.

Look at it another way: a person needs to be passionate about something to be happy. For those with nothing else, work is all they have. And when they can't be passionate about that, it sucks. My advice? If you don't find a job you can be passionate about, then find something else to passionate about. And if you don't find anything straight away, keep on your toes and keep trying different things till you do. You'll eventually be happy and you'll also reduce the previous reliance on your career and therefore probably enjoy that more as a result as well.

Is this a general theory though? Could it, for example, apply to relationships as well? During a self-pity session, a friend once told me to just get a "stay-at-home" wife (I'm sure most of you can figure out what that meant). Of course I laughed that suggestion off, explaining that I'd need much more from a partner than what a mere placeholder could provide.

But writing this blog got me thinking. If an individual's happiness is in the hands of that same individual, why would they have to rely on a partner to get that happiness? I'll give a concrete example just to make this point clear: Do I really need a wife that I can "talk to" when I could just as easily talk to other people instead? Of course there are some things which she'll have to be the sole source for (sex and cooking, for example), but if we only consider these things when choosing a partner the choice suddenly becomes much wider. After all, it's not hard to get a partner who's main function in a marriage is to just "stay at home" (please, please, please note the quotation marks; I'm not being literal here).

Should we really rely so much on a spouse or work or friends or family to fulfill the particular needs (and therefore happiness) we think only they can or should provide? Or should they instead just be another (although possibly major) source of happiness, contentment and fulfillment from a broad selection of providers?

Are idealisms really the best way to achieve our dreams?