Okay, another letter from another reader who feels lost.
That is the theme of 2010, right?
Hey Laurie, I’m writing because I feel like you’re one of the only people with a “real job” that I’ve encountered that shares some of the same views on the professional world as I do. When I read Punk Rock HR for the first time, I was so relieved to see that somebody who had “made it” in the professional world could also retain their individuality and opinions that ran against the grain of traditional notions of what it is to be “professional.” I like to associate with people who are genuine and retain their own individuality. The message that I’m getting from the professional world is that organizational goals and a “professional image” need to supersede one’s identity and personality. When I talk to somebody who is in a professional role, I don’t know if I’m talking to the real them or the (I’m-a-robot-and-I’m-at-work-so-I-have-to-act-and-think-a-certain-way) them. Am I understanding this correctly, or am I overreacting? Is it possible for a self-respecting person to land a “real” job these days, or do you pretty much have to start your own business and tell everybody else to go screw themselves?
These letters are tough. I don’t want to piss on the next Mark Zuckerberg, but I want to be realistic and honest with my readers. So here is my response.
I have two things to tell you. First up, no one is authentic. We are all poseurs. That’s the beauty/tragedy of life. Second? My voice has been earned through years of working and writing — and because I’m thirty-five years old with a work history that shows I can do amazing things in stupid companies, I can write what I write.
All great writing professors have the same advice. “Show me. Don’t tell me.” What does this mean for you? Don’t let your passion get in the way of a paycheck. You can work 8 hours at a crappy job and still have 16 hours/day to sleep, eat, poop, shower, and work on your passion.
Tragedy and conflict make life interesting. Embrace your challenges. Get to work.