I was hanging out with some secondhand acquaintances of mine after a wedding last year.  We were hauling wood in one of the guy’s trucks as part of the wedding cleanup posse–you know, totally normal wedding stuff. Naturally, I sat in the middle of the truck’s bench seat between the two other dudes, which made things slightly uncomfortable when the driver had to change gears.

Dockers Without Borders

We were discussing our careers. Both of these guys had normal, business-y jobs. They made pretty decent money, probably wore khakis with tucked in shirts to the office, and would be considered successful by most standards. They both seemed content to ride out their career paths on cruise control–401k’s, stable incomes, and enough money to take their families on vacation once a year. Sounds good, right?

I prodded them on what they loved about their jobs. “Not much, but it’s a living,” they summarized in agreement.

Rubik’s Cubicle

At this point, if you’re reading and whispering to yourself in a Gollum-like voice, “We likes these good jobses, Precious,” then you’re on the wrong website.

To me, these guys were describing my personal version of hell (especially with the tucked khakis part).

Don’t get me wrong–I have a family to provide for. I’m not suggesting anyone make any kind of foolish move, culminating in you resorting to turning tricks in parking garages (I thought you were better than that), but I don’t really want any part of my life to feel “tucked in”. I’m not a tucker. I experimented with tucking once (in college), and it felt awkward. I want my job and my life to be untucked, my shirt free to billow in the wind.

Define Your Don’t

While I think it’s normal (and to be expected) to work a short series of tucked-in jobs after you’re done with your education to pay bills and student loans, I think the most valuable part of those jobs to figure out exactly what it is you don’t want to do. The trap is when one year becomes five and suddenly you look around and realize you’ve tucked yourself without realizing it. Then you’re totally tucked.

Your Untucked Potential

I want to love what I do–and not just as an occasional hobby to escape the doldrums of normalcy. Without passion, it’s pointless. It’s hard not to equate your calling with your career, but I think it’s possible to do what you love and get paid well for it, to borrow an axiom from Cathy Heller. What’s your untucked job? Don’t quit your job until you can reasonably pursue your preferred career (after all, you need the money), but figure out how to get from where you are to where you want to be as soon as you can. And don’t forget to wear pants–you never know when you’ll end up in the middle seat.

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