Bob Marley writes:
Since you know so much about careers, I wanted to ask for your personal opinion on which would be wise for a young lad in England to pursue.
I’ll take to heart whatever your decision may be.
Work is fundamentally evil. No matter what, it will make you unhappy. If you do what you love as work, you will come to hate it. Maybe this is not true of rock stars. But no future rock star ever asked for career advice.
So it doesn’t matter what you actually do for work. Live cheaply, and work at the place with the most pretty girls.
I’ve worked many jobs, as you note. I flipped burgers.* I packed unicorn-shaped candelabras on an assembly line for cornfed soccer moms to sell at pyramid scheme parties, nine at night until five in the morning. I hauled splintery lumber and jagged finger-amputating sheet metal around on construction sites. Painted pipes with toxic paint right next to a hand-amputating exhaust fan that sucked up solvent fumes from the whole job site into my face. I was on top of a ladder which was itself on two stories of scaffolding. I’d get woozy and almost fall to my death several times per day. I telemarketed. I sold ads for Tantric Sex Retreats™ at a shitty small town newspaper. I answered fifteen different sniveling pricks’ phones in Hollywood. Got berated endlessly over nothing, just like Swimming with Sharks. Held back tears as a grown man.
Eventually I had a “prestige” job at a “cool” production company. Everybody I met got excited, wanted to show me their script. Get themselves cast on something. When I told people what I did I sounded accomplished for once. I met celebrities. Hung out with filmmakers I’d fantasized about meeting since I was a kid. I’d thought that was my dream.
It sucked. It sucked ass so hard that I hate movies now.
My boss was a prick, and there were no girls around. So the “cool” job felt the same as flipping burgers. Your happiness has nothing to do with what you do. It has everything to do with who you’re with.
I’ve only been happy about getting up in the morning when there were girls at work. Hot interns, cute new hires, fellow waitstaff, whatever. When you have a work crush, your day has meaning. You are human again. Because your purpose as a human animal is not to make some rich prick point three per cent more money. Your purpose is to connect with other people and bring joy into their lives. Let them bring it into yours. In other words: fucking.
If you don’t have real emotional contact with people at the place you spend all your time, you have to scrimp for it elsewhere. Chase it desperately in your meager exhausted hours outside the office. “Pick up” girls at bars. Spam OKCupid. Mercenary, mechanistic hollow versions of connection.
The good news is: you’re fucked anyway. You couldn’t sell out even if you wanted to. There are few “real” jobs now and soon there will be none. Doctors have to see fifteen patients an hour. Hurriedly scratch out a script for whatever insurance-approved drug gave them a free pen. Their pay will get pushed down and down. There are more lawyers than we will ever need. Bankers will get strung up soon. Unions are dead. You can’t make 36 an hour to tighten engine bolts at the Chevy factory. “Stable” government jobs are fucked. You can put in 50 years and they’ll take your pension away with the stroke of a pen. Your education will be useless. Not just the “liberal arts” but the much ballyhooed “STEM fields” too. Tech jobs will be exported to Indians. Or Indians will be imported here. Despite their billions in available cash, tech companies “can’t afford” to train domestic labor. They must look for slaves in places where the water gives you parasites. Don’t get me started on journalism, the arts, making money on the internet.
Unfortunately, you will still have to try to “succeed.” We all gotta eat. But more importantly, we all have to answer “what do you do.” So you will work and work and work and crush the best parts of your body, mind and soul for a hundred hours a week. For money that barely sustains you. For the ability to not sound like a loser at parties. For the promise of “getting somewhere.” There is no somewhere. You will not get rich. To be rich, you have to own shit. To own shit, you have to inherit shit. Or in a distant second place, you have to make money your life’s purpose by giving up your soul and conscience. Every self made rich person is an asshole. There are no exceptions.
Forget about work. Don’t think about it. Work is a nuisance to avoid, not a dream to obsess over. Live cheaply. Work as little as possible. Do it around cool people and pretty girls. If you can pull this off, you will solve the problem of loneliness. Which can solve the problem of unhappiness. Which is what people stupidly work and chase money for.
But then, how the fuck would I know.
* A McDonald’s grill veteran knows this is merely an expression. You do not flip the burger. McDonald’s proprietary clamshell grill technology cooks the meat evenly on both sides at once, to delicious perfection.