This post was co-written by Kristen Abell, Tim St. John and Becca Fick after a lengthy Twitter conversation topic. You might find it cross-posted on their blogs, too.
Lately, we have been noticing several folks tweeting things about “reasons I love my job.” It made us think – are we setting up the expectation that you need to love your job to be good at it? Why can’t we say we enjoy it or like it or find meaning from it and that be enough? It all comes down to false expectations of what we should get from work and what we owe to it as a result. It seems like a very unhealthy relationship. Tim threw the initial question out on Twitter, and a conversation has now bloomed into a blog post.
When/Why did we start treating work as something that could be loved? And is this only something that’s happening online? We wonder whether this professed “love” has more to do with how someone looks online, their personal brand, than their true feelings about work. Maybe some people feel like they have to profess their love for their job in order to be taken seriously as a student affairs professional – as if they have to prove their dedication to the job and to the field.
It’s not a person, it can’t love us back. Why do we put so much into something, and what do we get back from it? This can set people up for failure and/or heartbreak. No job will LOVE you back. You can get fulfillment from it, and you can make an impact, but those do not equal love. It seems that some of us, as higher education professionals, have unrealistic expectations about how our employers and institutions will receive our efforts, our “love” for them. We seem to hear, “Love your job! Be passionate. If you do this, then all your needs will be fulfilled and you will be rewarded.” In reality, a job is a job. Yes, some can be more fulfilling than others, but it won’t love you back.
When you treat work as work, you tend to be a better self-advocate when it comes to promotions, time out of the office, saying no, etc. You also tend to take less of that home with you, knowing it will be there when you go back tomorrow. Are newer professionals even taught this? And who do we look to for our models?
When you are all student affairs all the time, you do a disservice to yourself, to your friends and family and to your students. That’s right – we said your students. Do you think they care if you were thinking about them at 2 a.m. if you can’t help them now because you’re completely exhausted and burned out?
So what do you think about “loving” your job – is it all it’s cracked up to be?