Safety is still an essential part of our modern day decision-making on virtually every aspect of life – what we eat, where we live, the people we associate with, and so on. However, when it comes to our careers, our knee-jerk reliance on safety has taken on a precarious and suppressive form, better known to us as “job security”.
We’re pressured towards job security
Like most of you, I grew up under the pressure of very high expectations imposed on me by my parents and grandparents. Coming from a South Asian family that values academic achievement and professional careers as a means of status and worth, of course, I was expected to pursue a career as a medical doctor, lawyer, or something of the sort. Do I blame them for pressuring me? Not at all. Though at first I resented my mom and grandparents for pushing me into a career path that ultimately was completely ill-suited for me, as I grew older and looked around, I came to find that, with the exception of a few people, most of my peers across various cultures faced the very same pressures.
We were all simply victims of the psychological notion that we needed to pursue careers that offered not only status and money, but security in order to have a “better life”. It’s what we grew up hearing. It’s what we were taught to be the gold standard.
No job is safe
The problem with the concept of job security in this modern, wired world we live in, is that it doesn’t exist. We often hear of careers in health care, or government jobs as having the lowest unemployment rates, greatest benefits, and fields that will “always be needed”, but the truth is there are never any guarantees with any career. Yes, there will always be sick people to care for, and countries to run, but to think that you couldn’t at any moment lose your job do to lack of funding, economic downturns, or even natural disaster is completely unreasonable.
With new technologies and emerging share economies, even the most traditional manufacturing or service jobs are at risk of becoming obsolete.
Hotels are fighting for patrons as they compete with the appeal of Airbnb. Cab drivers are protesting in the streets for regulations to be imposed on Uber. What’s at stake? Their sense of safety. They’re scrambling for solutions to keep afloat in changing times. Peoples’ needs, no matter how basic they are, can change with the times.
We aren’t realizing our potential
Because I grew up hearing that I was expected to become a doctor, I never had the chance or freedom to discover what I was really good at. I wasn’t given the opportunity to pursue other career options that could have been better suited to my talents. This false notion of job security holds us back from our true callings, because it forces us to settle for jobs that meet the status quo. Our need for safety prevents us from stepping outside the box, or taking the risk of creating anything new and unique. We cling to the devil we know, rather than reach out to the unknown.
Have the courage to chase your dream
So, what’s the remedy for this problem that affects so many of us? Courage. Admitting to myself and then to my family that I never really wanted to be a doctor was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Deciding to stop my pursuit of med school made me feel like I had wasted years of my life. I had to have the courage to step out and discover what I really wanted for my life, ignoring those nagging fears in the back of my mind that tempted me to jump back into my safety net – to stay in health care and continue believing the lie that somehow I was safe there, that I’d still have a job to come to every morning for the rest of my life.
Have the courage to examine your life, your career, and take a hard look at how you got to where you are. Are you where you wanted to be? Are you happy? Fulfilled? Or, are you simply “safe”, afraid to step out and really pursue your dreams?
Here’s to having a side hustle…