A love letter to my career

Image via chibird.com

This quote reminds me of my work. Every day I work might not be a good day but there is always something within it that I genuinely love. And if a butterfly had have flapped its wings just a little harder, or more precisely The Grown-ups had of been more influential, it might not have been this way.

As with many teens both before and after me, there was a lot of (well meaning) pressure placed on me to plan my career path so precisely that everything after high school would simply be laying down another brick in a well-designed path.

I was 17 and I knew I wanted to be a psychologist. But people in my life who thought they knew better wanted me to work in human resources (which is basically psychology’s evil brother – sorry to those who work in HR). And they wanted me to do it in the mining industry. 

Never mind the lack of meaning such a job held for me, or the long history of mining industry culture that fundamentally treats women as inferior, or that high levels of depression and anxiety have been observed within the mining workforce. I was only 17 and The Grown-ups knew better.

[Weird fact: when filling in my university application I listed psychology as my second preference despite it having a higher entrance score than my first ‘preference’ of human resources. I wanted my actual preference on the form somewhere.]

So I went to university to study human resources. In the last semester of this degree I was 20 years old and about to head out into the ‘real world’ to start a career I detested. I pictured my future and did not like what I saw: work for a soulless mining company for several years, earn lots of money, marry some wealthy mining guy who thinks I am beneath him, and then resent career and sexist husband for the rest of my life (probably while wearing pearls sitting in an expensive leather chair swirling brandy in my crystal glass. Because White women).

That future scared the fucking shit out of me. It was just the thing I needed. I added the psychology degree I had always wanted to do onto my business one to form a dual degree. And it was one of the best things I have ever done.

It’s been 10 years since I graduated high school and I am now a PhD candidate conducting research into people’s experiences of health and illness. I love it.

I don’t always love my job. I don’t love having to be polite to people who I know are (intentionally or unintentionally) harming women with their views on them and their bodies. I don’t love my work being policed for fear of upsetting powerful people. I don’t love worrying about where the next research funding will come from. 

But there is always something that I can look back on at the end of the day and honestly feel love for. I love receiving an email from someone thanking me for doing research into something that is of great importance to them. I love when a doctor changes their practice to better meet women’s needs after seeing my research. I love seeing people have a conversation on social media because of something I have done.

I love my work and I am very grateful to everyone who helped me to get here. I am also grateful to The Grown-ups who tried to stop me; you helped in ways you probably don’t even know. Thank you.