Let’s stop career shaming people

Shae Slaughter

If you’re reading this you’re probably in college, went to college or are at the very least visiting a college campus. But why? My guess is that you, like myself, want a better future, an awesome career or just more in your life. You have goals and that’s awesome. Maybe you want to be an astrophysicist, an accountant or a professional violinist. Maybe you just want to own 12 puppies and drink moscato (shyly raises hand).

Either way, your goals and your choices are valid. Somehow people seem to forget that. I often hear others ‘career shaming’ people for choosing to not go to college, for picking an ‘artsy’ major, or for a whole wealth of other reasons. Let’s take serving for an example.

I have been serving for about three years, and I’ve worked at a couple of different establishments. Serving well-done steaks to people who proceed to throw peanuts on the floor and tell me “a winning lottery ticket” when I ask if there’s anything else I can get them isn’t really my thing. For me it’s a means to an end. That being said, I have co-workers who have been at that same establishment since it opened. Serving equates to great money and flexible hours, so why not?

Occasionally customers will come in and tell servers to “get a real job” or ask “what do you actually want to do?” Yes, really, random strangers have the audacity to say these things. First off, good luck getting your food if all of us servers went and got ‘real jobs.’ In fact our jobs exist because you want to go out to eat, you’re welcome. Second, maybe this is what I want to do. Maybe I like working nights and always seeing new faces, maybe I like the service industry.

This same attitude carries on to other professions too. I know that this negative attitude is not something only placed on servers. Let’s take custodial staff for example. Garbage collectors, janitorial staff and people with similar professions seem to have some stigma placed on them. They supposedly have a job that ‘no one wants.’ I think most people mean that they themselves don’t want it.

Once again, this field exists out of a need presented by us lovely human beings. We’re messy, and in public places many people are inconsiderate too. Shout-out to all of you people who throw popcorn in movie theaters, or leave your paper towel on the bathroom floor. Someone has to clean it up, and I’m guessing if you already threw it, it won’t be you. Looks like those people have a steady career and therefore definitely make more money than I do, so props to them.

The last area of the workforce that I want to discuss are all of the artsy people out there. All of the English majors (because same), and all of those who like experiences better than textbooks. If I had a dollar for all of the concerned looks I’ve gotten about my future career plans I would be paying my tuition off much more easily. To me, money is not everything, happiness is. Could I have been an engineer with a much more lucrative career? For sure. Would I have hated it? For sure. The same goes for many of us artsy people. Stop judging us just because finances and stability aren’t our first concern, to each their own right?

Unless you have inherited a lot of money, chances are you’ll have to work, we’ll all have to work. The workforce isn’t black and white though. We all have different strengths, weaknesses and goals. Make your own choices and make yourself happy first. Serve milkshakes, paint like Picasso, or do your neighbor’s taxes. Do whatever makes sense to you. Your choice isn’t wrong, the people who judge you are.