What’s under the hood?

Have you ever seen a sexy career and thought ‘I want me a bit of that!’?

I have. Mine is cake decorating. Forget for a minute that we have diabetes in my family, I’m keen to shift a few kilos and don’t want to be surrounded by sugar every minute of my working day, and would probably spiral into existential angst if I wasn’t doing something my somewhat pompous ego tells me is Useful and Valuable. That aside, my absolute for-fun imaginary dream job is covering cup cakes with tiny roses and sparkles.

In my imaginary version of this job it’s a lot of laughing, rolling out icing, playing with colours and delighting small children and sweet octogenarians with birthday cakes.

But I imagine that under the hood, this job probably looks a bit different.

The light and the dark. It’s own fair share of challenges. Sore feet from lots of standing. Unstable income as a small start up. Sickly sweet smells that get old about one week in. Stressed clients organising events. Late deliveries of dry goods. I don’t know really, I’m just making this up. Which is kind of the point.

We don’t know what’s involved if we haven’t done it or maybe know someone else pretty well who’s done it.

So for my work as an art therapist, sometimes people see the crayons and smiles and happy workshops, and don’t see the admin, paperwork, report writing, the first year of hard slog with erratic income, the lugging of tables and chairs to set up yet another workshop venue, the worries for clients, the self reflection and soul-searching supervision and general support needed, the hours spent wrangling and untangling and sorting materials.

I’m not complaining, I’m doing what I’ve chosen to do and actually I find it immensely rewarding. I enjoy it, it’s fun at times, and satisfying at a deep level. And it’s hard work and long hours sometimes too.

So when you or I next say ‘I’d love to do what you do’, let’s both spare a thought for the gears and workings under the hood of the shiny new car.

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More musings…

Which careers do you know that you think get portrayed as all fun that probably have a bit more going on than meets the eye?

How can we get to know what is really involved in different roles or professions when we are exploring a career change?

How can we shape our jobs to have more of what we love and less of what we don’t so that we are playing to our strengths most of the time?