I work, therefore I am.

(by guest blogger Andrea De Moliners)

Whether we like it or not most of us at some stage in our lives will need to have a job. Where we will live and how we will live will probably be dictated based on the job we have. How many people do you know wake up cheerful with a spring in their step itching to get to work?

How do we define that makes us happy? Just recently my theory – that aiming for the top of your profession will make you happy in your role at work – went up in flames. I was under the impression that for example if you are a journalist, your ambition would be to become an editor. This is probably not always the case. I know an avid animal lover who works in a pet shop. When I asked her if she would like to be a vet, her immediate and honest answer was a definite no. Not even owning a pet shop would make her happier than just working in one. I was surprised, are there others?

I envy those who from a young age know what they want to be when they grow up and I don’t mean the kids who say “I want to be rich when I grow up”. You’ve heard them, “I   wanted to be a lawyer when I was a kid”. I just wanted to know (and still do) what I was destined for when I grew up.

Well the answer won’t just come to you mulling away your dilemma in front of the TV. Sparks have got to come from somewhere to light the kindle that will be become the eventual fire to light your path. In that spirit I tried new things, did some classes and went to places I have always been reluctant to go. Still nothing, but I think at least I’ve got up off the couch, out of my comfort zone and begun my search instead of waiting. You won’t catch me professing my faith at a Hillsong festival. I do however, appreciate a biblical teaching that says “God helps those who help themselves”. Perhaps we can substitute God for something else, fate or chance maybe. (Hmmm perhaps I should stand next to someone taller than I for a few days just in case of lightning)!

That brings the next question – is your chosen profession a matter of destiny or chance?

That would not explain the child taking over the family business, or siblings who all have successful acting careers. I can’t imagine a person destined to be a bus driver. In the cave man days, you either became a hunter or a gatherer. Was there a need for an IT systems engineer during the renaissance?

What then determines what career we are to follow?  I was hoping that school would have given me the answers, it didn’t – not even close and the clock is ticking. A few thousand years ago some clever guy Greek said “know thyself” and then what? Thanks a lot! I know this – my time is short on this pale blue dot, which makes it valuable (to me anyway).  So how do I make it count? “Be brave, take a risk, do something out of context of normal expectations society has placed on us” I say to myself. (I don’t mean “rob the local bottle store”). I can’t, I’m afraid. I’m off the couch but haven’t quite left the living room.

I quite like the idea of some ancient philosophy I stumbled on recently. The reading said to strive for immortality and happiness.

I doubt that the Hollywood version of immortality was meant in the book I read, you know the box office version which involves a great adventure and the excitement of finding the holy-grail and with that immortality Indiana Jones style. The constant playing of the theme song in the background as you go about your adventure would be enough to make you nuttier than squirrel turds. I presume their idea of immortality means that your memory lives on in others based on what your actions were when you where alive. Ruling a European country with aggression and murdering millions in the process should not count. He doesn’t strike me as someone who was overtly happy.

That thought led me to ponder and what I pondered was this. In my line of work if someone came up to me and said that what I managed to get through to them was the understanding of being a safe motorcycle rider and that they would try and make others aware of that, then if that made my actions immortal then I would be happy and consider my life well spent. – Andrea De Moliners (August 2010) teacher, writer, philosopher & motorcycle enthusiast.

The Grown Up generation – musings of a Y-gen voter

This morning I received an email from a friend I’ve known since Primary School. It feels like yesterday, but the words in the email reminded me it was long, long ago. “This,” she had written, “is my grownup email address.” I believe she no longer requires the world to know she loves Elvis and is his number one fan.

Alas, I still feel the need to allow my music and lifestyle tastes to be demonstrated by my email. No, scrap that. I still like my email address, everyone knows it, and I feel no need to change it to demonstrate I’m a grownup. It also helps that I don’t actually consider myself ‘grown up’. When I dress in a suit I feel like a little girl wearing her mother’s clothes. I still rarely wear high heels (my gorgeous purple boots are an exception) and I still expect to be seated at the kid’s table at family celebrations.

Of course, I have a degree, have survived several years without parental supervision, drive madly around in a little car without glaring ‘P’ plates on it, and generally live as a ‘grownup’. Then something funny like this email happens and I’m reminded that I am a ‘grownup’ even if I don’t feel like one, and being a ‘grownup’ means more than changing the vacuum cleaner bag on your own. I have to VOTE. Worst of all, I have been asked to write a blog about what influences Gen Y to vote the way they do. Sure, I voted in the last election, but the conversation regarding voting in my family went something like this:

Parent: ‘I’m worried about your sister.’

Me: ‘Really? Why? Is she OK?’

Parent: ‘She told me she was voting for Rudd.’

Me: ‘OK … ‘

Parent: ‘Well, what do we do about it?’

Me: ‘I wouldn’t worry too much. The last conversation we had included her asking me which party Rudd was in so she could make sure she ticked the right box.’

Politics were never something we really talked about in my family, and politics has never been something I’ve been interested to talk about. I actually can’t tell you what influences Gen Y when they vote, so I did what any self-respecting member of the Net Generation would do. I Googled it.

I learnt a lot about my generation! Apparently, we’re faced with questions about our personal financial future, the world’s environmental future, and globalisation. It’s true … We’re trying to figure out how to buy a house, save the whales, and fit into a big, big world that we can reach out to in a matter of seconds online. We liked Rudd: he was young(er) and appeared on Rove and had a FaceBook page. We didn’t like Howard: he was old and out of touch, and we all knew he was going to retire and this is like knowing our parents are going to get divorced. We’re trying to avoid the ‘mistakes’ our parents made by getting it right the first time, so why would we vote for someone who wasn’t even going to see it through?

I have no idea who I am going to vote for; my sister informed me ‘there was no way [she’d] vote for that bogan’, but I’m not sure she’s the best judge of politics. Then again, neither am I. You see, I have a problem with the attacks against Gillard. Regardless of her politics, I get annoyed when I read criticism over how she dresses and her relationship with whatshisface. Gen Y doesn’t care that she wears trouser suits and lives unmarried with a man; most of us do, too. I would tentatively suggest, however, that we don’t vote for parties. We vote for the leaders. While we don’t care what our leaders wear or who they’re married or unmarried to, there are certain things we need in a leader. We want a leader who will make sure we each have the opportunity to be happy. That’s it. We want to know who will make sure we have jobs and careers to pursue, who will save us from global warming (hint: the first step is to admit it exists), and who will ensure we don’t get left behind by the rest of the world.

Maybe we thought we had it nailed with Rudd, but we’re all a bit disillusioned now. Like the Americans with Obama, we’re sadly recognising that nothing is really happening. We made the change, but nothing has changed. How many more do we need to make?

– Stef Thompson August 2010