I've been stuffing envelopes (and playing Scrabulous) the last hour or so. The admin gig (along with my job as a research assistant) is a half time assignment I got in lieu of teaching this quarter. So here I am folding paper and running envelopes over this white ceramic thing that wets the gum on the envelope and I can't say that I'm in any way stressed out. In fact the repetition is almost calming. Every other job I have had, including teaching, has had me doing a million things at once, and every one of those things required thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and interacting with other people. To be honest, that kind of thing keeps me sharp but it also burns me out really fast. I've had this sort of dilemma before and I see two basic career paths that people generally follow:
1. Take a job that is challenging but fulfilling. Work will be hard and long but meaningful.
2. Take a job that is easy, pays the bills, and leaves you plenty of leisure time to do the things you really want to do.
I've never been able to choose #2 because I usually can't stand to spend even 7 hours a day on something that is meaningless to me. Actually when I worked in the tech industry I spent more like 10-12 hours a day on really hard work that was meaningless to me...but I made about $10K more 7 years ago than I will as an assistant prof for a public teaching university in 3 years.
But as I sit here and stuff envelopes I wonder if it isn't such a bad thing to do really mindless work that pays the bills (barely) but doesn't leave me exhausted, stressed out, and worried. And why the hell can't I ever settle for something in between? I'm actually working toward lower pay and greater workload...
But I have to say that every moment I spend reading and writing, no matter how hard it is at 1 in the morning or after working for many consecutive hours, is valuable to me because I'm learning something new or thinking about something in a different way. I guess I have to remind myself of that. Or win the lottery.