Work is Work?

I have never been a fan of administrated work, with it’s boring and seemingly endless tasks of paper stapling, emails, spreadsheets, proofreading, etc.  During this summer’s internship, I have asked myself why I get more drained from this type of work than actual physical labor work.  I don’t think it is because of the mundaneness of the work, but rather due to the mindlessness of this type of work.

Since I was a child, I can recall the feeling of feeling most accomplished when I was being challenged with and in my work.  Till this day, I like being challenged because it keeps me sharp and moving forward towards betterment in learning and growing as an individual and student.  I don’t mind being challenged even if I am scared to approach this uncharted challenge because it means growth of self and of skills.

But what happens when I’m not being challenged?  Does my mind wander?  Sure.  Do I create small goals in between the mindless tasks to feel fulfilled?  Sure do.  Do I create multiple tasks in between jobs to feel a made up “challenge”?  Absolutely, for the sake of my own sanity.  I have come to understand that I thrive from being challenged; it sustains part of my sense of self.  When I’m not being challenged, I lose my sense of purpose, and I become restless.  Restless with the angst of wasting my time and energies on meaningless things.

To be challenged in an area of work means mind labor, an opportunity to approach a new task with new or existing strategies.  I like being challenged; I like mind labor.  This allows me to feel a sense of purpose, which is fulfilling.  For me, administration work does not equal mind labor.  Yes, it is boring work, but I can tackle mundane work because life requires it.  What kills me about administrative work is the mindlessness of it all and how it produces zero mind labor.  Stapling a stack of papers is not exactly rocket science, in fact, it’s not science at all.

Not all administrative work is mindless.  Some require attention to details, such as proofreading an important document requesting funds or possibly dictating someone’s future.  But sitting in an office managing someone else’s present/future makes me feel as if I am stuck running on a hamster wheel of someone else’s purpose.  A feeling that makes me feel drowned out from reality and academics.

I understand that administrative work is the oil to a well-managed office; it’s the glue holding together a great collage of meaning and art.  But at the end of the day, my day, administrative work has required zero mind labor on my end.  Work is work.  But I prefer work beyond managing a well-oiled office or being the glue to a great piece of art.  Personally, I need work that goes beyond the now but uses my mind and ability to see a project innovatively.  Sure, work is work, but I need more than just work.  I need challenge and mind labor – because without this, I feel purposeless.

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