Cure the White-Collar FOMO

James Walpole/ August 14, 2020

I love my blue-collar job in the (pre)-construction industry, but I get the feeling that some of the other young folks who work in building might idealize the cushy white-collar job.

After all, blue collar jobs come with relatively little pay and lots of dirt, sweat, sun, and bugs, as well as occasional physical danger and plenty of physical toil. There’s not a whole lot of social status attached to them (in fact, some negative).

On the other hand, you’ve got the imagined utopia of the white collar job beckoning with its air-conditioning and plush amenities.

And I imagine this is how a lot of folks feel about work growing up, hence the general disdain for blue collar work and the mass rush into college education.

In my case, I feel pretty free from this desire. I’ve seen the near-peak of cushy white-collar employment in the form of a venture-backed tech company. My indoor job came complete with fancy computers, company-sponsored meals, unlimited snacks. – and, of course, air conditioning.

I loved this job, for sure. The people I met and the things I did were irreplaceable. But the AC, the beanbags, the snacks, the scooters were the least meaningful parts of the whole thing. And it was missing a lot.

It didn’t have dirt, sweat, sun, or bugs. It had no physical danger and only accidentally did it ever involve physical toil. After five years doing it, I guess I was wanting blue-collar work the way some blue-collar workers want white-collar work.

The grass is always greener on the other side, and people will always long for it. But I wish young people working with their hands could see what I saw. Maybe then, they wouldn’t miss the experience of building or making for the frustrated dream of something easier.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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