Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A few definitions.

I suppose it's only fair that I lay out a few definitions here for my readers (still theoretical at this point).  I'm sure anyone who reads my blog will know exactly where I'm coming from and never take unintended offense, but just to be sure I deserve any hate mail I receive, let's lay out some terms I like to use, and what I really mean by them.  Rest assured that I'll update this entry from time to time, and link back to it when I come up with any fantastic new terminology.

=  ≠  >  < :  If you need to be told what those mean, this probably isn't the blog for you, because as we move forward, I'm probably going to use them a lot because I'm a math geek at heart.

Grown Up™: This is something I talk about a lot (duh).  The trouble here is that not everybody has the same definition of a Grown Up™.  To your average 4 year old, a grown up is simply anyone over 4'6".  For me, there's a list of qualifications:
  • You are in no way dependent on a trust fund, your parents, or other family members except for the healthy kind of mutual dependence shared with a spouse if you're married.
  • You have the level of relationship you want. (i.e. - you live alone because you want to live alone for ever, or you are happily and deliberately married with a healthy relationship)
  • You have a respectable job.
  • Your respectable job is also a Real Job™
  • You either own your home, or have the ability to own your home and have chosen not to for mature and well considered reasons.
  • You are not shacking up.
  • You are not abusing alcohol or other drugs.
  • Your friends and family don't think you're completely failing to live up to your potential.
  • People are not constantly giving you ideas about what to be when you grow up.  (Oh my god, Stephen, you should be working in IT. or Your photography is so great, when are you going to do that full time?)
  • When you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, you are not looking for ideas.
  • You are attending to all of your responsibilities, including the financial ones.
  • You are NOT buying stupid crap that you can't afford on credit.  That includes ATV's, boats, PlayStations, and even cars.  Learn to pay cash for things.
  • Most importantly, you make your life decisions with a deep level of intention.  When choices present themselves, you weight and consider both the short and long term consequences for your own life, and for the people who count on you.
Real Job™: This is a job where the work you do, actually makes a difference to someone.  It can't be a job that is replaceable with an automated kiosk (sorry cashiers, your job doesn't count).  It needs to be something that requires some meaningful combination of skill, talent, education, training and intelligence.  Maybe not all of those, but at least a couple of them.  This sometimes means that seemingly similar jobs will fall on different sides of the Real Job™ fence.  For example:

Auto mechanic = Real Job™
Jiffy-Lube technician ≠ a real job

Running your own successful landscaping company = Real Job™
Mowing lawns ≠ a real job

Hotel Manager = Real Job™
Hotel Front Desk Clerk ≠ a real job

CNA = Real Job™
Working as a 'helper' at PCL ≠ a real job

All that said, let's be careful not to confuse Real Job™ with "respectable job."  All Real Jobs™ are "respectable jobs," but not all respectable jobs are Real Jobs™.  It's kind of like Scotch and Whisky.  All Scotch is Whisky, but not all Whisky is Scotch.

Any job where you go to work and earn enough to take care of your responsibilities by working hard is a respectable job.  For some people, a respectable job is all they want or need, because their awesome life has absolutely nothing to do with the work they do, and that's okay.  Just be sure that if you fall into this group, that you are doing it on purpose.  A lot of people I know (myself included) ended up in respectable jobs by default rather than design, and spent years convincing themselves that it was all part of the plan.  Do not get caught in that trap.

On Purpose™:  This one doesn't just mean something you are/were happy about/okay with/wanted.  It means that before it happened, you sat down and said, I want this, let's make it happen.  It's also a good (but imperfect) test to see if your job qualifies as a Real Job™.  If you were applying for jobs with the shotgun approach, and the job you have is the one that called you back, it's probably not a Real Job™.  On the other hand, if you woke up one morning and said, "Wow, I'd just really love to work at ____," and set about figuring out how to get there, then there is an excellent chance you have your very own Real Job™.  Likewise, if you've always thought kids would be great, and one day you happen to make one, that's not On Purpose™.  If you and your DNA co-donor sat down and said, let's make an ankle biting, poop & vomit machine, that's On Purpose™.

The Magic of _______™: Generally, not a good thing.  In my first blog post here, I mentioned, "the magic of student loans."  Let's be clear; student loans are one of the worst things to ever happen to higher education.  Don't get me wrong; I'm all for higher education.  The problem is that when people with no credit and no clue gained the ability to borrow tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to study fields like basket weaving and minority studies (yes, those are intellectually equal), the value of a higher education in the real world started to diminish.

The Bachelors Degree has now become a de facto minimum qualification for any job that doesn't involve fast food or a hyphenated name ending in -Mart.  Worse still, once you have your minimum qualification, you still can't find anybody to hire you for what you studied because most HR reps don't want to hire someone with no experience.  In fact, if you found a way to get the experience without the degree, you could get hired in an awful lot of fields.