Merriam-Webster defines underemployment as “the condition in which people in a labor force are employed at less than full-time or regular jobs or at jobs inadequate with respect to their training or economic needs.” Admittedly, working fewer hours than we need in order to pay the bills is a legitimate concern. In this case, however, it is not uncommon, as I have done, to piece together enough work to constitute a full time work week.
Likewise, inadequate pay is a very real issue. Relatively few of us are paid enough to live a life of security let alone fulfillment. In fact, receiving fewer than full time hours really is only an issue if we need more money than our current work week provides.
I mean, who gives a shit about getting more hours at work if part-time hours pay enough? Right? Who asks to work more hours at a job that already pays well for fewer hours?
This is a bit of a trick question, since there is a group of people who are willing and even enthusiastic to work more. Who are these freaks of nature you ask? People who love their work. People who are fulfilled by the endeavors that occupy their days, and even nights.
Which brings me to the definition of underemployment that I most want to discuss here. And that is work that is inadequate with respect to training. Of course, I am assuming that the training in question is aligned with a person’s passions. So when a person has trained in a field that is reflective of his or her passion, but cannot find work in that field, to me, that is the most tragic form of underemployment.
Let’s be honest. Most work in today’s modern economy does not pay enough. At least not right away. But there are many people getting paid less than they want or need in jobs that fulfill them in ways that money cannot. And frequently, such people find themselves generating financial wealth as a result of performing work that enriches them initially in the more important, internal metrics of fulfillment, purpose and passion.
On the other hand, there are many people getting paid very well for joyless work at best, and long hours spent under relative to extreme stress at worst. And the money isn’t making them any happier in the tradeoff. But at least they have a sense of security. Not that this can replace deep fulfillment. Still, I’d rather have security and some luxury than not have it. It doesn’t mean I stop seeking true fulfillment. It just means that I’ve checked some important requirements off of the list.
But when we work thankless jobs for shit pay, then we have succumbed to one of the great tragedies of modern life. Because in that scenario we spend a disturbing amount of that most precious commodity of time, merely passing the hours until quitting time. And clock watching is one of the finest ways to waste our life away, dying a slow death measured in minutes until lunch time, hours until quitting time, and years or decades until retirement.
This may seem dramatic, but to anyone who has worked a job that provides little to no stimulation, and lacks any deep sense of purpose, the very thought of going to that workplace is enough to generate feelings of intense despair.
This is not to say that working a menial job is without benefits. Perhaps in your non-work hours you are spending time on some life project that does provide purpose and will create fulfillment. Maybe even wealth as well. Additionally, there is great value in finding the lessons available from any situation, whether we have chosen it consciously or not. And, of course, there is much to learn about humility, patience, compassion, and persistence from work that may not be in our chosen field.
But when we work aimlessly at an unfulfilling job for years on end, never moving toward something larger or deeper in our lives, then we are doing nothing short of wasting the very life we have been given.
Know this. Each and every one of us has assumed this human existence specifically to manifest in the world of form the perfectly unique gifts that only we can present to the world. When we waste our lives withholding those gifts from the world, keeping them locked deep within us as mere thoughts within the mind of God, we are committing the worst sin possible.
The origins of the word sin reveal to us that the true meaning of the word is far different from what we typically believe. It does not mean to commit some form of wrongdoing in the ethical or moral sense. Sin means “to miss the mark.”
To sin is literally to miss the point of living. To sin is to commit evil only in the sense that “evil”, as the word itself implies, is quite literally the opposite of what it means to “live”. And if to live truly means to derive the fulfillment that can come only from manifesting our purpose in the world by sharing our divine gifts, then failing to do so is literally the opposite, an act of evil, a sin.
In our modern world, one of the most common ways in which people shrink from the divine calling that is living our true purpose, sharing our completely unique innate gifts, is to waste time in an aimless and purposeless job.
I’m not judging. I’ve been there many times. And I’m not suggesting that you quit your shitty job immediately.
What I am urging you to do is begin uncovering the divine purpose for which you are uniquely designed. If you have some sense of what that purpose is, start chipping away at it. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. And it proceeds with each additional step. Until step by step by step by step, you turn around and find that you’ve travelled a long and amazing journey.
Travel long enough, and more importantly, consistently enough, guided by your most authentic motivations, and you will find yourself living a life that resonates throughout your whole being.
Please let me know if there is any way that I may assist you.
At your service.