The most millennial thing about me is that growing up, I believed that my dream job exists. There’s that old saying that if you find a job you love, you won’t have to work a day in your life. I bought into it wholeheartedly.
I saw having a career as a means to doing what I loved from 9 to 5, five days a week, and getting paid for it; I believed in hustling and climbing up the corporate ladder. I didn’t care much about getting married and even less about having children. Not saying you can’t care about work and start a family, but for me, building a career out of passion was it. This was partly the result of parents who encouraged me to pursue my interests and hone my craft, an partly the result of rom-coms like The Devil Wears Prada, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days and 13 Going on 30. As was the case for all the female leads in those movies, it should come as no surprise that writing for a magazine was my teenage dream.
During my second year of work, a colleague asked if I wanted to buy lottery tickets as some colleagues were pooling money together for it. She said if we won, we could quit our jobs the next day. I said – in all my early-20-something-year-old-naivete, “But I like to work”. Fast forward a few years later – having weathered a global pandemic, housing inflation, and GST hikes – and I realise that to enjoy what one does for a living and want a financial safety net don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Over time, I have refined my definition of a dream job. At its base level, what motivates a person to pursue a job would usually be because one needs to earn a living. But what leads a person to choose one job over another could stem from multidimensional factors: interest, strengths, salary, and welfare benefits just to name a few. Depending on our values and circumstances, we could prioritise one factor over another.
Looking back at the career choices I’ve made, as a fresh graduate, I made two-thirds or less than my former university peers, despite having studied the same course and gotten similar grades – essentially because I chose to pursue a more interesting job above anything else. If I were to do it again, I’d have done the same thing at that age. But that doesn’t mean continuing in the same role feels right for me now. That wouldn’t progress.