How to interpret a line like that? Working for “Pay” vs. Working for “Work?” It could mean any number of things – including the distinction between working at a job purely for income, working at a job because it’s what you love (regardless of compensation), or the way I intended it – the work involved in finding work.
FACT: The process of searching for work is, indeed, a job in itself.
And it’s as hard a job as so-called doing a job. I might assert that it’s even harder. Why? Because there is no paycheck at the end of the day or the week, there is no acknowledgment of any sort – no “standing” from others, and no comprehension that what you are doing is as exhausting and as critical as putting in the hours for pay.
Again, I might assert that it is more exhausting and more critical. We’re fighting for our futures and our own self-respect. We’re fighting for self-respect in the eyes of our children and our communities.
FACT: There are no guarantees for any of us in this economy.
For many of us, hanging on to a job isn’t easy. Layoffs are everywhere, as is a younger worker, a less expensive worker, and in some instances, a better connected worker. So if you do have work, you’re constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure you keep it.
And there is no “make sure you keep your job” behavior anymore. Unless you’re the boss. And even then, you have no guarantee.
So who is better off? The one with the job and the paycheck, but stressed about keeping both? Or the one without the job, without the paycheck, spending days and nights refashioning resumes, filling out applications, studying to learn new skills, shelling out more emergency bucks to attend a seminar, a course, or buy computer software to help get back in the game? And with mounting debt and growing worry?
Neither position, clearly, is desirable. And I’m not here to make comparisons. Not really. But I do wish to make a point:
FACT: Looking for work is WORK. It’s just not “recognized,” valued or compensated work.
So if you have a friend or neighbor or loved one who’s out of work – whether it’s been a month, a year, or three years – cut him or her a break. If you haven’t been there, you can’t know how unemployment eats away at your sense of worth. You can’t know how tiring it is to work contract job after temporary job after stand-in job, and still not make ends meet.
It’s more than pay and security (or the illusion of security) that you lose – it’s a piece of yourself. It’s about respect and understanding – your own – and from those whose opinion matters to you.