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What is a Real Job?

Updated on February 4, 2015
social thoughts profile image

I have a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I've been a Goth since age fourteen, and a Pagan since age fifteen.

Published on 04 February 2015 Stock Photo - Image ID: 100309009
Published on 04 February 2015 Stock Photo - Image ID: 100309009 | Source

Have you ever been asked to get a "real job?"

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I think pretty much any type of artist knows what it's like to be asked "but what is your real job?" It's a degrading and stupid question, but it shows how society views employment—or at least socially acceptable employment. Starting with the basics, what is the definition of employment?

Employment is a relationship between two parties, usually based on a contract, one being the employer and the other being the employee. [Wikipedia]

Artists are usually self-employed in some way because they do the work themselves and are paid accordingly. Please, note that I am not speaking of artistic people who use their art as a side-job, but artists who are dedicated to their craft, full-time. Self-employed artists usually enjoy their job for the most part. It means they do what they love, and receive payment for it; however, the outside world wants these people to hate their job. They believe that having fun at work means they must not be working very hard.

Did you know vloggers work so hard?

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YouTube Vloggers

TheNotAdam aka RJ made a video about the reactions he receives for admitting his job is making videos. RJ mentions his past experience with desk jobs that demanded unpaid hours of work, and no benefits. He explains, in detail, how much work goes into any given day of making videos—and RJ makes a video every day. Why is one type of work more respected than another? As he says in the video, people think he plays with his puppy all day, but in reality he is working on his own productions which involve several steps varying greatly in skill; therefore, like any artist, he knows what it is like for non-artists to be under the impression that art requires little time and effort.


Emma Blackery responds to the many comments she receives asking her to "get a real job." She explains how "real jobs" always involve interacting with self-absorbed and/or mindless people as though the employee doesn't know the customer is one or the other. That is maturity, ladies and gentlemen. We reward people who allow horrible behavior, usually through a promotion of some kind, and punish those who would never put up with it. If we wrap our minds around this concept, is it a surprise that the planet is in such bad shape? We have police to reprimand the criminals, but in all customer service positions the person with the money can do as they please, and verbal and psychological abuse is a frequent part of it.

How do you feel when asked "what do you do?"

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"What do you do?"

I read an article, recently, called "A Kinda Snobby Question You Need To Stop Asking When You First Meet Someone." It is about the politics of asking this question: "What do you do?" Apparently, the question causes a lot of people anxiety. It is understandable since most people associate pay with status. Those in minimum wage jobs, like myself, will be seen as failures, regardless of what education they may possess or how overwhelming the work is. Make no mistake, minimum wage jobs that involve customer service may seem to require the least amount of effort, but the emotional aspects make up for the lack of education one may need to perform the duties.

Unless someone has their dream job, the question can be quite a downer! I have lost track of how many times I have been asked when I am graduating high school or if I plan to go to college. Just the other day, a customer began a conversation by making the observation that I have worked there for a long time, and asked if I started when I was in high school. I swallowed my aggravation with reality, and merely answered that I was in college when I started. Oh, that assumption that every minimum wage worker is 1. a teenager and 2. uneducated! While I should take it as a compliment that I am aging well, I don't enjoy telling strangers and customers that I have a bachelors in English—something I wanted since I was in Elementary school—and have yet to be able to use for my full-time employment. No, customer service is not my dream job, but I do take the work very seriously. When I am given an assignment, I intend to do it well.

On a side note, the majority of teens who have worked with me have been unimaginably immature. Almost every one has taken as many breaks as they can when the boss leaves, refused to wait on customers, and were on their cellphone the majority of the time—playing a game or texting someone when they had work to do; therefore, customer service jobs are definitely not for the lazy teens who have no intention of creating a long-term experience for their resumes.

It goes without saying that anyone who has never needed to have a minimum wage job for very long or ever, after graduating college, will be ignorant to the reality of these jobs in relation to education. As explained in another article of mine that uses the film Reality Bites to show today's minimum wage employees, as an adult woman, I represent the majority 49 percent, and as someone with a bachelors, I represent the 7 percent of minimum wage workers; therefore, I understand for those with high paying jobs it is difficult to comprehend that their servers may be adults and may even have a respectable educational background, but just as most people are uncomfortable with discussing their personal life in relation to their professional life—unless they have their dream job—the best advice is not to inquire into a server's personal life, unless one is willing to ask without any assumptions, and accept unexpected answers.

So, what is a real job, anyway? Everyone has their own definition. Personally, I think the "real" part of it is too diverse to define. Should salary define if a job is real or should the work put into it define it? Should the education required define the job's value or should the importance of it? What is your definition of a real job?

© 2015 social thoughts

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  • social thoughts profile image
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    social thoughts 2 years ago from New Jersey

    Of course, writing isn't a real job. It's not like writers are responsible for every educational book or worked long hours on them. ;)

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Judging from some of the reactions I get, evidently writing isn't a real job, even though I work longer hours than most of my 40 hour a week friends. Oh well, you and I know the truth, don't we?