I’ve worked as a housekeeper twice. The way I worked was the same, careful and hard. The first job, my boss told me that she liked the way I worked. The second job, my bosses expected more from me. If I was very careful and thorough, I was told to be faster, but if I was fast, I would be told to be more thorough. I couldn’t just work the same way everyday, and get the desired result. Inconsistent expectations would fall out from beneath my feet.
Sometimes we have to work for expectations, like as students writing a paper. Sometimes, however, we are our own best judges. If all I had known was the second job, I might have felt bad about myself. I might have thought that I wasn’t cut out for a job in housekeeping. Actually, the case is that I am a great housekeeper, but the expectations of that second job were capricious and unrealistic.
Work for some of us is a big trade off, every day is like holding our breath, with lungs that only fill with oxygen in the evenings, and Saturday and Sundays. If this is the case, we don’t expect work to be meaningful expressions of ourselves. Perhaps I’m a little bit weak, but I need for my work to be meaningful. I don’t need to show up just to be paid. I need to play a part.
Does your work drain you, or does it fill you with satisfaction?
Being in the wrong type of job can bring our self-esteem down. Being in a job that doesn’t value our strengths as people, that doesn’t offer opportunities to learn and grow, can be damaging to our minds and our bodies. We might not even realize the harm. We might do things to blunt our own dislike of the situation, saying we’re able-bodies, we can do anything, but not even realize that we are developing crutches to get by. Even though I worked at this second job for a time, health problems developed. I eventually had to quit because I had IBS and the job conditions made it worse.
The most important expectations that we fulfill when we go to work isn’t that of others, but of ourselves. We’re human beings, and we need our work to fit our own strengths and limitations. We need to look to fulfill ourselves just as we look to fulfill the job description.
Who do you work for? Yourself? If you’re a part of a big corporation, do you feel that you’re contributing something significant? Do they recognize you as an individual or as an organism that will adapt to their whims?
“What constitutes the alienation of labor? First, that the work is external to the worker, that it is not part of his nature; and that, consequently, he does not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself, has a feeling of misery rather than well being, does not develop freely his mental and physical energies but is physically exhausted and mentally debased.” -Karl Marx