High Career Aspirations Are Overrated, Here’s Why

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At this point in my life, I honestly thought I would be higher up on the career ladder but I’m not. I am higher than the positions I used to be in but I’m not high enough. And quite honestly, I’m okay with that. Let me back up for a second. In the last 13 years since I graduated from college, I’ve been an aide in the classroom, a recreation center assistant, and a part time community college instructor. None of these jobs were full time and most of them, I was working two jobs at 45-55 hours a week, trying to make a full time living wage.

I got tired of running from one job to another while being a mother. Education became harder to get into unless it was a classified position and then I would have to find a summer job to pay the bills for the months that I was off. I had to step back and think outside of the box for a permanent job. What could I do with the degrees that I had but wouldn’t have to worry about computers possibly taking my job in the future? I’ve always worked in service because human support is still needed and I love to be around people.


After applying to different positions for over a year, I landed a job as an administrative assistant. Finally, I have one job that is 40 hours a week with benefits and pays more than when I worked two jobs combined. I used to hate being in an office but as I’ve gotten older, I knew that I needed to sit down all day to get more pay. I’m satisfied with what I do and I actually love what I do. The thing is, they asked me where do I see myself in 5 years. I said that I hope to move up to another position in 5 years. That was months ago at the interview and now that I’m inside, I have a different perspective.


High career aspirations don’t excite me as much because the higher that I climb, the more responsibilities that I have and there is no such thing as being off. When I come in on Monday mornings, I see that people answer emails and work on the weekends to finish by the deadlines. I thought that I left that in college and I’m not about that life right now. The higher pay may be nice but what’s your price for a peace of mind? It’s priceless for me and I wouldn’t trade anything for it. I think that I’ll be in my position for a while. I wouldn’t say that I’m settling but I’m not in a hurry and I’m being realistic for me. I love that when I go to work, I have 8 hours to get it done and then when I turn off the computer for the day, I’m done. My job keeps me busy, which makes the days go by faster, and I don’t have anyone watching over me. My role in the company is just as important as the supervisors and project managers because I keep the company running smoothly so they can accomplish their work. Some people are better behind the scenes than in the spotlight, and I realized that I’m better behind the scenes. I haven’t had a job like that in a long time and I feel free.

Also, I want to enjoy my life and spend my spare time doing whatever I want to do, including writing for this site. It’s fine to coast for a while and enjoy life while I’m young enough to do so. I have to do what’s best for me and for now, I’ve found my peace.

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Joy Elan

Joy Elan

Joy Elan is an award winning author and spoken word artist from Oakland and Berkeley, CA. She received her BA degree in African American Studies at UC Berkeley and her MA degree in Education at Stanford University. Her books are available on (poetry, non-fiction, and fiction genres). For more information, go to