In Praise of Tedium

cubiclesIf you have been following my blog for any length of time, you might have picked up on the fact that Teenage Daughter has a bit of a cynical streak.  I am quite certain that she came by this trait from her father.  She also has an attitude about her senior year in high school and, lately, is rather skeptical of adult life in general.

One evening she sat down with me and we had a meaningful chat about the future.  More specifically, about attending community college in the fall and transferring to Michigan State University the following year.  This is pretty much how it went.

Me:  “You need to pick out classes for next fall so you’d better go to the Michigan State website and see what transfers.  Are you still thinking about business?”
Teenage Daughter: “Yeah, I suppose so.  But it sounds tedious.”
Me: “Tedious?  How do you mean?”
Teenage Daughter: “I mean that you get up every morning and go to work and then you sit in your cubicle and work some more and then you just keep doing that until you die.”
At this point, I was compelled to stop clipping the coupons I’d been working on and listen up.
Me: “Sweetie, maybe you should be looking into careers that don’t include cubicles.  There have to be other things you’re interested in that aren’t exclusively in an office.”
Teenage Daughter: “No, mom, they are all tedious.  It’s all the same… work, work, work, tedium and die.”
She then walked out of the room and I was left with coupons and my own tedious life to think about what she had just said.

There was some truth to it, after all.  Work life is often referred to as ‘the grind’, ‘same ‘ol’, ‘old hat’, etc for a reason.  For millions of Americans, it’s neither exciting nor adventurous, but rather a means to an end.  And, running water, heat, electricity and food but not necessarily happiness or personal fulfillment.  Contrary to popular belief by the 20 something crowd, life is not always a series of endless, memorable moments.  Being a grown up can be a really boring-ass job.

Personally, I embrace tedium.  I don’t like to be bored, but I do like the comfort of knowing every day I have a job, a house and food.   I also have lower expectations.  I didn’t grow up with unlimited sources of instant gratification.   There was no texting when I was young and we had to actually get out of the chair to change the television channel.  Finally, in my humble opinion, there is nothing quite like a weekend with no plans.

I am hoping that Teenage Daughter uses her cynicism to find a job that suits her.  There really is nothing wrong with taking ones time to decide what is best for them instead of choosing the wrong career.   I know many people who have changed jobs and locations in order to suit themselves better to which I say ‘good for you’.

Carpe diem or patiently endure – your choice.  Might as well enjoy the tedium if you’re going to die anyhow.


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