November 30, 2017 • Sarah Jean Gosney
Modern women have been sold a lie: a fulfilling career is the ultimate achievement and should be a primary goal. One reason this is a lie is that most people have jobs, not “careers.” The primary reason? In the workplace, no matter how irreplaceable you may be, your are nothing more than a cog in the machine of economic productivity.
If you are lucky enough to have a career, I applaud you, but even the most fulfilling, creative work cannot keep you warm at night. After many years in the labor force, I’ve woken up to what should have been an obvious fact that even rewarding work is still work, and money, while crucial, is no more than a means to an end of survival.
I used to think that serving others–especially in my romantic relationship–was degrading. However, life had other plans for me, and unfortunate life circumstances found me in a position of simultaneous economic dependence and in the role of a caretaker. I saw my living rent-free in two separate households as a huge burden on the breadwinners, and I sought to make up for it with one of my much-appreciated skills: cooking.
Both acting as a nurse and regular chef (though maybe not one meriting a three-star Michelin rating), I felt the burden of economic debt lifting. I felt like a valuable member of a family unit, not a leech, even though the nag of supporting myself remained ever-present.
But even more than assuaging my guilt, I found that I enjoyed simple acts like bringing a loved one a plate of food as they sat comfortably, or refilling a drink unsolicited when I got up to fill my own. I realized I had the power to provide a little more comfort and pleasantness in a world full of hardships.
Let me be clear, I don’t particularly think being a waitress qualifies. While I’ve worked in food service, I’ve never waited tables, and I understand it can be stressful, tiresome work.
On the other side of the coin, I think most men are most fulfilled by providing for a loving family. Not being a man, I can’t speak to this personally. (I’d love to hear thoughts from my male readers on providing.)
If not in the context of a family, you can serve others through volunteer work. Any situation in which you are giving yourself or your services willingly and without monetary compensation can provide another dimension to your life.
Choose who you serve carefully. The act of service is a gift and should not be taken lightly. But when you find a worthy partner or family, do it with joy. In what ways have you found fulfillment serving others?
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