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Working Nine Till Five

A big hurdle I'm currently barrelling towards is learning that, as a working class person, I'm allowed to earn money for jobs I might actually enjoy. I can try to earn money from my podcast if I want. Or try to sell my articles or stories.

Part of the problem might be that if you've worked from a young age, then you have likely only ever been paid minimum wage, were treated like shit, and did very un-fun work (think waitress, retail worker, bar staff, barista, cleaner).

Then you grow up and learn that you can be an artist or a journalist or a writer, things that you enjoy - but now you feel weird getting money from it. The battle cry in my head is "It's not a real job." As if there's some magical criteria for "being a real job," other than something that earns you money. So often this attitude is shown to jobs with any creative component - like a musician or an artist. As if being paid for a service you provide, yet happen to enjoy providing, is somehow fake.

Is it a working class upbringing that makes someone think this? Or maybe it just comes with working very shit jobs for quite a long time?

I feel like if you come from a more affluent background, you are more likely to a) try these professions b) not feel guilty for trying these professions.

Which makes sense, because you have the literal resources (money, and especially time - since you're not forced to spend most of your free time working for a living) at your disposal. But what's really fascinating is that they don't seem to feel guilty for pursuing these occupations, when so many working class people do. Maybe it's an issue of self-worth.

Exacerbating this issue, is that I don't even realize how many jobs there are out there. If I were to lose my job right now, I would instantly look at bartending, cheffing, waitressing.

There's no way my mind would go to anything I might enjoy. Enjoyable jobs are for people with degrees and money, not someone who's cleaned toilets and made other people's food for eight years.

There's definitely other things I could try to do, like freelance journalism, copy writing, a gardener, an author, event planner, academic researcher. These are all jobs I would enjoy a lot more than my previous lines of work, and the biggest thing stopping me from getting these jobs is the fact that I never apply. These jobs surpass 'unattainable', and delve into 'totally ludicrous.'

How dare I think that I could be a journalist? I tell myself I'm underqualified, but have had articles published before. I don't know whether this is because females are a lot more likely to think they're underqualified for positions than men (LinkedIn, 2019) or because of some foolish working class notion of not deserving a nice job.

A lecturer once told me that for some people, an experience is so far removed from their own reality that they will not even try to attain it.

Maybe that is the case here, the idea of being a journalist, or a fiction writer, is so far removed from the working class reality that it seems literally impossible.

If this is as widespread as I suspect it to be (though this suspected ubiquity is only from the anecdotal evidence of pub talk) then there's definitely implications that this fallacy perpetuates cycles of poverty, and the lack of social mobility that the UK suffers so much from. These both have loads of other shady indirect effects, like shitty physical and mental health of the general population, increased crime rates, lower levels of educational performance, and a lot more (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010).


LinkedIn (2019) Gender Insights Report: How Women Find Jobs Differently. California, LinkedIn

Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2009) The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone. London, Penguin

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