That Thing You Do

Interpreter Patient Refugees and Care Provider at appointment

That Thing You Do

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a space cowboy. Later on, my heart was broken when I learned that being a space cowboy is not actually a thing. Then I thought I could be an architect, and promised my Mom that I would build her a purple house. My dreams kept changing almost every year, and if you were wondering, no, my Mom never got her purple house. On the early years, everything seems possible. You hear children all the time, “I want to be a billionaire”, “I’ll have my own TV show”, or “I will be President”. Now, this seems like it might be the same person, but that’s just a coincidence.

The questions about my future job grew along with me. Since my Dad is a doctor, he wanted me to be a doctor, my Mom wanted me to become a lawyer, and my Sister just wanted me out of the house, because I had the larger room. To be honest, all I wanted, was to be an adult. Little I knew that it is when you become an adult, that you actually don’t get to do whatever you want. Being an adult is hard. As a child, you have no bills, you still have that amazing innocence that provides the surprise factor from even the tiniest thing in the world, and making a friend is as easy as being in the same playground. The teenage years become a little bit harder, you are confused, you have to deal with hormones that provide feelings that you never felt before, but honestly, it’s not that bad.

Once again, being an adult is hard, you have lots of responsibilities, bills, that terrible social pressure filled with questions like, why don’t you have a life partner? When are you having kids? When are you having more kids? How’s work? This last question has two possible answers, work is great, and work is awful. Work is great as in, “I do what I love, so I don’t have to work”, and work is awful as in, “Working is so bad, they even pay you to do it”.

We all have a passion, something that we love, that thing that you can do for hours, and never stop enjoying it. Also, we are all idealists, and during some pivotal point of our lives, we truly believe utopia is real, and it has the job that we love, waiting for us, unfortunately this is not the truth for everyone. Lots of people end up doing something they don’t like, and there is one of the places where depression finds a door to walk into people’s lives.

With depression, comes anger, frustration, loss of interest for doing even the things we used to love. It starts nice and slow, but it builds up like a skyscraper, and it’s important to figure it out on the early stages. However, even though I find depression a very interesting topic, I’m not here to talk about it, and I’m pretty sure I’m not qualified to do it in the depth it deserves. What I’m saying is that if you feel on the down side, tired, lacking interest in doing things, evaluating how happy you are at work might be a good place to start.

The problem with work is that not only you have to like what you do, you also have to have a good relationship with your co-workers, a schedule that accommodates the rest of your life, a decent commute, recognition, growth, and the list goes on and on. I don’t want to be pessimistic, but we’ll probably never find that magic place, and even if we did, we would probably feel like it’s lacking challenge. This is just my perspective, and I might be wrong, but I feel like what we need, is balance. Perfection only exists in the dictionary, and it’s described as being free from flaws of defects, and let’s face it, there’s no such thing. I heard one time someone say, that humans are not perfect, but perfectible, which in my opinion describes our condition in a very accurate way. We can get better, never stop improving, but error being embedded in our nature, keeps us away from perfection.

Once I discovered this unavoidable imperfection status, I started considering defects beautiful mistakes of nature. Falling in love with birthmarks and scars that make us unique, like my friend Gina’s loud laughter, changing my idea about it from annoying, to inviting. And then there’s work, which has more “goods” than “bads”, and if that’s not your case, perhaps you should consider a change. It’s never too late. Change is rough, but it’s normally good, and it doesn’t have to be radical. It can be done periodically. Start doing things that you enjoy, and see how it goes. My dream job is to be a writer. A lot of people ask me, what kind of writer? Screenplays, short stories, and essays are my favorite things to work on, but honestly, I enjoy all sorts of writing. I find a blank page a beautiful opportunity to do something no one else has ever done before. It’s challenging, frustrating, and in all fairness, it doesn’t pay the bills, at least not yet.

If you’re unhappy with your job, perhaps you should change to something different. If you are OK with your job, and it pays the bills, keep it but maybe, do something that you love on the side, and call your job, your day job. And if you love your job, good for you, enjoy it and do it with passion, just don’t get too obsessed with it, and forget that you also have a life outside of work.

I recently started working as a medical interpreter, and I am really enjoying it. I’ve been bilingual in English and Spanish since I was a kid, and I’ve always liked using both languages. I’m fascinated by cultural differences, and this dual language skill has given me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people, in different industries, and countries, so this place is a gold mine, since there are interpreters for over 70 languages. Blend this with the science and technology involved in the medical field, and what you have is an amazing job, that is different every day, and that gives you the access to endless learning and growth. Add nice and respectful co-workers, plus the feel-good sensation of helping the community, and even though it’s not as cool as being a space cowboy, I love it.

I feel blessed.


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