What is a “real job”?


My mom is fond of asking me, “When will you get a real job,” or making comments to my 42-year-old sister like “one of these days she will grow up and get a real job.”  What is a “real job?”  Are some jobs imagined?  Are there salary range bands that signify when a job becomes real?  If so, maybe this image is what constitutes a real job…


 My friend said that it has to do with labor-intensive jobs versus non-labor intensive.  With this thought, any desk-centric job is automatically “not real” and any manual labor job is “real.”  The reasoning here is that manual labor, despite its lower pay scale, represents physical labor while being a desk jockey only represents mental labor.

I have pondered this thought and found that it does not hold merit, at least where my parents are concerned.  Maybe it is control.  If a job is not hand picked by my mother, perhaps it is not a real job.   Maybe if the job is not for my own good, or to make me happy, then it is not a real job. 

As an aside, my friend Rick says that he hates it when people want him to do things “for his own good” because it often means the request is for “their own good.”  Perhaps, but I do feel he carries that argument to the extreme sometimes, and uses that as a counter-excuse.  Yes, there really are times when someone wants something “for your own good.”  But a job is a personal thing, and someone wanting me to take a job for my own good is not viable.  Then there is “to make me happy.”  Again, happiness is a personal thing; an inward feeling that may or may not be externally reflected.  So doing something because it might “make me happy” is a ridiculous concept.  I prefer to keep whether I am happy or sad to myself or perhaps my wife.

So once again, what is a “real job?”  If we count one a job that has high salary and we discount only manual-labor jobs,  what does that leave?  If we throw out the element of parental control…then what remains, Sherlock?  I don’t know.  Perhaps it is a complex combination of all of these elements.  Perhaps it is a hidden message about haywire spending habits or debt accumulation.  Or it could be something else entirely?

What do you think it is, other than a control mechanism, salary band or manual labor?


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