Sunday, February 04, 2007

Work and ambition

First a weekend update: Met up with S on Friday, had an early dinner, and went for a walk around Lake Temescal. Then we went home and had a quiet night...well, quiet in that we didn't go out and do anything. Yesterday, after seeing clients and running errands, I came home and was reading when S and SS stopped by to pet me. Yes, that's right. They spent about 5 minutes petting me, as you would a dog or cat. It felt wonderful.

S has another contact improvisation dance workshop this week. It started today (those folks are not into the Superbowl, clearly). It's in SF, so S is staying with SS this week to cut down on the commute. So the day is open for me to plan. I'm thinking of a walk, then going to UC-Berkeley to do a little more research, then home to finish a tarot reading for BeeDragon, then make dinner and watch a movie. It sounds like a perfect day...I'm also, clearly, not into the Superbowl!

It's amazing to me how so many different themes sometimes come together in your mind. I've been talking to several clients about their work lately. These are clients who, in one form or another, do work that is not traditionally looked upon as prestigious: housecleaning, in-home care, chorework, gardening, etc. But these clients love what they do and they are good at what they do. It struck me this week about how lucky they are to have found work that feeds their soul, and how awful it is that such work is not valued enough to be paid well so that others, who might feel the same way, can pursue it.

There's also a stigma to it, an assumption of class that doesn't really fit any of these women completely. I think, when I imagine how others see them and the work that they do that they assume there is not ambition there, no drive. But that is wrong. I see the investment that these women make in their work and their clients. I see them thinking of this as satisfying and growthful, and that is ambition, to me.

In my nuclear family, I'm the only one with a college degree and to have gone on to grad school. I put myself through school (and will be paying off the debt until I'm 55) and I decided to pursue training to become a private practice therapist. Now, I am a small business woman (wow! I've never called myself that before), and I'm in the process of creating a specialty and writing an article about it.

Despite all this, I realized in therapy on Friday, that I really don't think of myself as ambitious. It's rather absurd, reading the paragraph above, but it's been true. Somehow, the idea that my parents have carried that work is a means to an end and not something to enjoy, in and of itself, really took hold. It was more important, to them, to have a job then to have a job you loved. So once you found work, if it paid well, you stuck with it. I recognize this rut as the one that has kept me in dialysis for 6 years.

I never thought of myself as someone who was expected to excell. Indeed, there were no expectations set up for me. This had the rather strange effect of leaving me feeling loved but unsure if my parents respected me. I, also, recognize that my desires to do well and pursue something that I love leave me feeling like I am leaving my parents behind in some way. It's a very strange experience, since I have spent most of my life trying to stay in close relationship with them.

I know that it's strange that I may be equating myself with these women who do work that is typically looked down on, when my profession is just that a "profession." But I think the liberating thing about both is that we have found what we love. We have found a place where we can rest content and be just as ambitious and as happy as we allow ourselves to be.

I, for one, am glad for it.


Cody Bones said...

Find your passion, and you will never "work" a day in your life.

Aravis said...

That was an interesting and insightful post, Spins. I've worked as a housekeeper. While I didn't really enjoy the work, there was satisfaction in a job well done. Lots of instant gratification in it, too, which is great for someone like me. I agree that those jobs don't get the respect they deserve.

My parents have the same attitude as yours. A generational thing? I think that I would work at a job I didn't like as long as I was simultaneously working towards a career in something I do. Otherwise it's a horrible feeling.

Congratulations on finding what makes you happy! I'm cheering you on as you pursue it.

shorty said...

Are you blue?