Part Three

So I just learned a new saying about two weeks ago. And since it’s been in my consciousness, I’ve heard/seen it about a thousand times. The saying is: “becoming a cog in the machine”. Apparently, wait actually let me go look it up right now to make sure it means what I think it means…

Okay, the free dictionary verified my prior thoughts – here’s the exact definition: Someone or something that is functionally necessary but of small significance or importance within a larger operation or organization.

So basically – I’m going to go into a rant about how I don’t want to be a cog in a machine. Because I’ve seen many people do this, and I know many people that live like this. And if you’re okay with that, that’s fine – look away from the rest of this post because I’m just going to clarify my stance and explain how I’m completely not okay with it for myself.

I do feel very lucky and blessed to be a rare 20-something that really does know what she wants to do. I am super passionate about the field I want to work in and I know that my dream job does exist within this field (*insert meme about not dreaming of labor* LOL). And although it took a couple years and degrees to figure it out, I do feel confident that I have found something that I can love and bring passion to for the rest of my life. So, why would I settle for something that is simply not that? If it exists in this physical world, then it can be mine. It’s as simple as that. I know that I have the capability of actually leaving an impact, so I will hold out in order to accomplish that.

In the society we live in, the work-life balance is i n s a n i t y. For some jobs more than others, but in reality we spend almost, if not more than, half of our waking hours at work / commuting to work / thinking about work. That’s too much time to not be absolutely in love what you do. I have seen jobs change people (not everybody, calm down. but also… invitation to check yourself???) into being a shell of who they used to be, myself in the past included (kind of dramatic, I guess, but also the truth.) Leaving them very little time and energy to do what they want to do, go where they want to go, and be who they want to be. How many times do you want to do something and you can’t because of work? Or how many times on a Sunday do you complain about the next day being a Monday? How excited are you when it’s finally Friday and you get a mere 2 days off from your soul-sucking job? I don’t want to do it. I refuse to. I do not want my job to be just a means to get money. You can think I’m illogical or not pragmatic, or lack any realistic bone in my body and that’s fine. I promise you are not the first person to think that and you will not be the last. But a couple of my pipe dreams have come true in the past so who’s to say it won’t happen again? And sure, some people like their first job out of college. As Matt D’Avella said, “I’ve met both of them”.

I recognize that it is my privilege to take my time and not take a full-time job that makes me feel insignificant, because I have very few bills right now and alternate streams of income. (Even though, it should not be a privilege to find a job you can actually bear going to every day, but that’s another story). And this is not to say that you should not put in effort if you don’t have your “dream job” or are working as a “cog in the machine”. Obviously there is a manner of sanctification that comes from doing well in work that is not glamorous or perfectly suited for you. This is also not to say that I don’t believe in climbing the ladder and starting at the bottom, because there is obviously something to be said about that, as well. And I’m not oblivious to the fact that when you are starting out in your career you will probably have a job that has some shitty parts. Obviously. In the society we live in, you have to work and earn a high position/position of power/etc. I get that. What I’m saying is – everyone should have the right to earn that position in an organization/place/field that they are passionate about contributing to. I.e. if you don’t care about money and personal finances, don’t get stuck at a bank working your way up to the top, because you will still be unsatisfied no matter what your position eventually is. We all have a purpose, and it should not be commonplace to simply ignore that for money.

When you meet someone, one of the very first questions they’ll ask you is, “What do you do?” They clearly mean for a living, like what’s your job. It’s a classic American conversation opener and we are probably all guilty of throwing it out at least once or twice. Now, of course there are arguments (that I will gladly support at any time) that state that what you do doesn’t define who you are. I agree. A lot of people do. But unfortunately that does not change the connotation that society has given our professions over centuries and centuries. We judge people based of what they do. It’s the truth. It will probably be the truth for a long time. And we all know I love Spain for many reasons, but I’m just saying – it’s very easy to know someone for years, YEARS, there and have no idea what they do for a profession. In addition, sometimes, when they are curious to find out what you do (even though it’s FAR from the first question they ask), they’ll say “Que te dedicas?” which translates to “What do you dedicate yourself to?” (Sorry my inner linguist is coming out.)

Imagine. If I ask you what you dedicate yourself to, would you reply with your job?? Like, I’m just saying… if I was working for something I’m not passionate about – I know I wouldn’t. I’d probably stutter for a few seconds and then make up some joke so I don’t feel badly about myself. But they are considering what you do during the day to be something that you are fully and completely dedicated to. What a concept. Can we adopt that here in America please? If you don’t care about that, that is your decision. But I’m going to be dedicated to my work. My job will fulfill me more than it dissatisfies me. I can promise you that. Because when you have a job where you are making a difference, feeding your God-given purpose, you can show up better in every aspect of your life.

So next time I tell you I’m not working right now and you want to give me a pity smirk that judges and questions my aptitude and work ethic – please remember that I had two degrees by the time I was 22 and I’d feel MUCH more shame becoming a cog in the machine than I feel being unemployed.

ALSO we are in a pandemic LOL so if I can’t find a proper job within your timeline – I have no apologies for you.


  1. Hi Beth Ann,
    Great post! I too am unemployed and trying to figure out my what I really want to do with my life. I worked the job you described for 18 and 1/2 years… yep.. because I had insurance, I made decent money, and it was fairly easy and stress free. It was 100% soul sucking and mostly a toxic environment. I am much happier now being unemployed and figuring out this thing called life!
    Thank you for a great read!


  2. Hi Beth Ann, I was smiling while I was reading because I was that person who didn’t know what she wanted to do! I worked so hard at a career I didn’t even like and ended up spending more than a decade of my life building it up. I was just a cog in the machine, unfortunately. Of course, all sorts of discontentment, restlessness, and frustration eventually overwhelmed me so I decided to let go and immigrate! I’m so much happier now being able to pursue more of what I want in my free time. And forget about what these judgmental people will say. It’s your life; only you can decide your path and what will make you happy. 🙂


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