Is your job supposed to bring meaning to your life?

by Waleed Ali Khan


A month ago, the television show The Office came to an end with a rather emotional series finale. It has been a show that my brother and I have followed religiously and I had waited to return to Pakistan to watch it with him. In that episode, the characters finally say goodbye to the small office floor of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company for good. Most of them seemed to have disliked their work, but they were all having a hard time saying goodbye. When the episode ended, my brother asked me “do you consider these people successful?”

English: Logo of the fictitious Dunder Mifflin...

English: Logo of the fictitious Dunder Mifflin paper company. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had to pause for a moment to answer that question. Come to think of it, a monotonous sales job in a dying industry seems like a nightmare. Yet, I couldn’t possibly say that they weren’t successful. Some of them found their spouses at work, others remembered it as the place where they made their best friends. They all seemed to have grown out of the experience at this seemingly horrid work environment. My answer to my brother was eventually a “yes.”

But what does this idea mean for my generation, who’re about to launch their careers? I personally am on the verge of turning down another high paying job offer, for something uncertain and definitely something with a lower salary. I will never know if it is right decision, but I know that I would not be true to what I believe are my capabilities if I accept it. This also means that I will have to wait longer for my future to materialize into something stable. The idea of that is terrifying.

Regardless of what these job decisions entail, we should always realize that our careers only define one facet of our growth. A friend of mine, Shivani, just advised me to stop worrying about wherever my career takes me and that I should continue to do the things I love.  She told me to “connect back with writing, running and anything else [I] would like to do.” This is probably the best piece of advice I could have gotten.

These words by Andy Barnard from the finale to describe his work environment really resonated within me:

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

We need to realize that if we have a job that we hate, or no job at all, we can still be successful individuals. Remember to make the most of the moment you’re living in.

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