On Making Money Instead of Chasing Career

My first official job was the one I am still at today. It has almost been five years since I signed my contract, which actually ended last year. My first days at the office, when I was young and hungry for exposures, I was dying inside that I had this three-year contract that did not allow me to resign unless I was okay with paying fine. I guess the young me felt somewhat trapped with that kind of commitment. I kept asking, what if I woke up one day and I wanted to do something else? 

Waktu pertama kenalan dengan orang-orang di kantor dan sadar bahwa lumayan banyak dari mereka yang bekerja untuk perusahaan sejak masih gadis dan kini hampir pensiun, I had a hard time understanding that. Kok betah banget sih? Yes, you can get promoted to higher position or moved to different departments. But spending your whole adult life for a single company, how?

Halfway through my contract I was diagnosed with cancer. A living nightmare, physically, and even more financially, if you are not privileged enough to seek a decent medical treatment. But the company I have worked for, the one that I was dying to resign from once my contract ended, the one that I thought was such a comfort zone offering minimum challenges, was there for me. When other people get fired for not performing at work because they get sick, my bosses gave me time to go through long and continual medical procedures that undoubtedly affected my performance at work. When other people have to use up their savings and even be in debt to pay the hospital's bills, my company's health insurance covers most of my medical treatments. 

Kadang mau ketawa geli, kalau ingat betapa idealis diri ini waktu awal bekerja dulu. Selalu merasa kalau pekerjaan itu harus fulfilling lahir dan batin, harus punya great impact for society, harus selalu revolutionary and make a difference. Ternyata ketika dihadapkan pada realita, saya harus tahu diri kalau selain untuk ibadah, tujuan bekerja ya to make enough money to live and survive. Klise, tapi suka tidak suka, ujung-ujungnya memang soal uang.

Does that make me feel like a superficial, purposeless person? Awalnya tentu saja iya.

But recently I read an interview where Ellen Pompeo from Grey's Anatomy confessed that she isn't looking for creative fulfillment anymore. What makes her stay for almost 17 seasons of Grey's is her $20 million contract. She made choices to stay on the show and have a financially stable home life. Does that make her a superficial actress? I think that makes her human.

Yes, many actors choose to pursue creatively challenging roles in exchange for unstable financial situation. But when there are artists that treat their job as a slightly boring corporate job that pays big money, that is 100% okay too.

So here I am, five years into my first job, and I am okay with it.

I am okay with my decision to make money instead of chasing career. I am okay with choosing a steady work environment instead of gambling my life and seek for a more challenging role. I am okay with not being able (yet, or ever) to work for the government, in a dynamic start-up, or in a giant FMCG company like I once wanted so bad.

I am okay with it, because it doesn't make me superficial, it makes me human. 

And to have what I have today, is more than I can ever ask for.


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