If society deems blue collar work as something that entails physical labour and white collar as having a cubical, I suppose the best way to describe my current situation would be collarless. If we extend that metaphor, I think it’s fair to say that all of my endeavors over the last three years have lacked neck protection.
The collars analogy is just an attempt by society to insert a semblance of categorization into the workforce. I know this. But, identifying with a collar allows perspective. Knowing that you fall into one category or another enables you to distinctively see where the line between the two falls – and, in turn, to reflexively be aware what it is about you that makes you belong to one or the other.
But what if you don’t belong to either one?
I always joke that I’ve never had a real job in my life. In reality, that’s only partly true. Through high school and university I earned beer and gas money as a hockey referee. While challenging and stressful at times, it certainly doesn’t fall into the real job category. In the summers through university I worked at a marina in northern Ontario cleaning and driving rich peoples’ boats around. See previous answer.
The job I had before moving abroad was working retail at a sports goods store stocking shelves and pretending to know about the quality of products. If there were ever a real job classification in my repertoire, that might be it.
Since I’ve lived in Costa Rica I’ve held positions as an ESL teacher, school manager, and writer. In many circumstances all of those can be categorized as real jobs. In the circumstances in which I have lived them, though, I just haven’t considered them to be.
Mostly because I genuinely loved – and still love – doing all of them. It’s cliché but you don’t look at jobs you love as work. Although for me it’s also been more than that. For the last two years I’ve primarily worked from home. I’ve taken days off at ease. I’ve gone on extended trips to the beach whenever I wanted. I’ve slept in, stayed out late, and had the freedom to essentially do as I please and still take home a sizable paycheque.
This type of life doesn’t have a collar. This type of life doesn’t even wear a shirt. Which is the point. Because of the luxuries I’ve been fortunate enough to have been afforded in the last three years, I’ve lost perspective on what the world of work actually is. I know it’s not what I do now, or what I have been doing; I just don’t remember what it’s like or even if I’ve ever experienced it.
This can’t go on. It’s not healthy. I’ve been living in a bubble that is detached from reality. With my move back to Canada now only six weeks away it might be the ideal time to find what most people define as a real job. Not forever. Not even necessarily for a prolonged period of time. Just long enough to let me know how lucky I’ve been, appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given and also the great opportunities that are already starting to be offered my way in Canada and elsewhere around the world.
I really want to wear a collar for a while. I just don’t know what colour it would be.
Does anyone know if McDonald’s is hiring?