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    People With So-Called "Average" Jobs Reveal Why They Do What They Do And How They Feel About It, And It's Sparking An Important Conversation

    "I'd rather have an ordinary job that I love than a fancy job that stresses me out."

    In a world that celebrates celebrities, CEOs, and "self-made" billionaires, we often forget that the majority of us aren't hustling to climb the corporate ladder, launch the next big start-up (with or without a *small* million-dollar loan from our parents), or amass one million followers. In fact, we can get so caught up in our capitalist society that we often disregard so-called "average" or "ordinary" jobs (that the majority of us have!), even if they're essential, stable, and allow us to prioritize other values in life.

    So, I turned to our BuzzFeed Community and asked people with supposedly "average" jobs and lifestyles what they do, why they do it, and how they actually feel about their circumstances — the response was overwhelming. It's clear people who lead "ordinary" lives have a lot to say, so here is a slice of their stories, in their own words:

    1. "I'm a 37-year-old server. I have a degree and I've held other jobs, but I always go back to serving. Part of it is the money, and part of it is that I'm just good at it. To other people, it probably sounds weird that I'm proud of being a good waitress, like I should aspire to be good at something 'better.' But this makes me happy. There are tons of bad things about the service industry, but I've never found co-workers/friends like the ones in restaurants. My schedule is flexible — I'm not a morning person and serving doesn't require me to be up early. My kids can visit me at work, and I like the comfort of knowing that if I need extra cash, I can pick up a shift and have it the next day. I'd rather have an ordinary job that I love than a fancy job that stresses me out."

    diner waiter pouring coffee

    2. "I'm a paraeducator. I assist the teacher in special needs classrooms. I love every minute of it. People always comment that I should become a teacher and I always tell them no. I make decent money to the point where I can live comfortably and not have to deal with the stress that comes with being a teacher, like unreasonable parents and unbelievably high expectations from administrators. I still get to work with the kids and help them better their education and life, which is the ultimate goal for me!"

    special needs teacher helping a student

    3. "I’m an accountant for a state agency. They get exactly 40 hours of my time a week and pay me enough to live comfortably with my partner. I love that my days end at 5 p.m. and know I'll always have the weekend to spend enjoying things with my partner. I never have to worry about long hours or inconsistent income. My check is exactly the same every month and it makes budgeting a breeze. We still have to save very consciously for vacations and big splurges, but knowing I’ll get to retire with a pension is very comforting. Boring works for me."


    4. "I work in the catering and concessions division of a sports/entertainment venue. I'm one of the 'unnoticed.' When I was 19, I went to university, worked hard, gained notoriety in my field, had the right boyfriend, and tried to party as hard as I worked. But I had a sad home life. My boyfriend was so materialistic and shallow — everything had to be perfect and approved by the Joneses. Now, I have a home I'm dying to get back to instead of working 18 hours a shift to impress the unimpressive. My job is fun, lucrative, and affords me the time I want to play in the garden with my dog. I get to have the excitement of live stadium concerts and massive sporting events, and I GET paid to be there! To most people, my life is boring. But I'm the hero to dads with their kids, serving hotdogs and telling them the best place to ask celebrities for autographs since I usually helped those celebrities earlier in the day."

    someone smiling behind the concession stand

    5. "I work a typical 9–5 job in project management and non-profit administration. Prior to COVID-19, I worked in event production, which by most would be considered significantly more fun. Once COVID hit, I was laid off and devastated to have lost the job I dreamt about for years, worked so hard to get, and finally had. So, I went back to school, earned my Masters and got the job I have now. Is it exciting? No. Is it fun? Not particularly. But it's stable and the company grew through the pandemic when so many companies shrank. My priorities shifted due to COVID. Having a fun, exciting job was no longer important to me. Having a steady paycheck became my top priority and I'm actually making a decent amount more now than I did in events, and I'm working regular hours with significantly less manual labor. Plus, I really like a lot of the people I work with and have one of the best bosses I've had since I started working jobs 18 years ago."

    "I leave work most days feeling a sense of accomplishment and I'm happy. There's nothing wrong with working an 'ordinary' job. Sometimes it's the simple things in life that make us happiest, and to me, that's what matters most. I'll happily keep my mundane job for the stability it provides and do what I want and have fun outside of work."

    —Anonymous, 34, Illinois

    6. "I've worked in banking for the past 10 years. I spent seven years in a branch doing customer service and I've spent the past three years in a non-customer-facing job as a loan processor. I had to get out of a branch environment for my mental health. I'm an introvert with general anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, and PTSD. I like to start a task, finish it, then move to the next. As the years in a branch passed, I started becoming more and more agitated by customer interruptions to my work. Now, I work in an office with a door I can close and where I can complete a task before moving to the next. I'm fine where I am, and I have no desire to move any further up. When I'm done with work at the end of the day, I'm done. I don't have to take anything home with me. I'm not responding to emails. I like it that way. All I require of a job is to not dread going every day and having a couple of coworkers to joke around with."

    person smiling at their deesk

    7. "I am one of those people who married someone from my high school and moved back to my hometown minutes away from the house I grew up in. I work in finance, so could have made a big career for myself by moving to New York or another big finance center, but instead chose to stay in the city I grew up in and work in more back office-type roles. I have a great work-life balance and have still moved up to a position where I make a great salary. It’s easy to daydream about working and living in Manhattan or London, but I love the simplicity of my life. ... People on the internet love to make fun of 'that girl from your high school who never left,' but I’m very happy to be that girl. I chose to place family and friends over a high-profile career and I couldn’t be happier. I pretty much have everything I’ve ever wanted and at 30, that’s not too bad."

    selfie with friends

    8. "I’m a barista and I love it. During high school and university, I was obsessed with being above average, and the idea of being 'normal' was like a monster under my bed. This burned me out so bad I that had to start therapy — I had no personality other than studying, and I didn’t have an actual interest in a career. Eventually, I got a minimum-wage barista job, and even though my partner makes way more than me, I couldn’t be happier with the boredom. The hardest part is the constant 'When are you going to get a real job?' questions. In reality, I could see myself making coffee for the rest of my life. For once, I actually have hobbies and interests like skateboarding and sketching, things I was always too mentally exhausted to even try. I may never be super wealthy, but I’m excited to become a master of my little craft."

    9. "I work as a maintenance technician at a regional distribution center for a very large national store. I make $32.50 an hour and am incredibly happy to make that much. I'm good at what I do, and I love the hours and time off I get. I put in four 10-hour days and get three days off every week. I also get paid weekly, which is common in this type of industry — it's nice considering we have bills coming out at any given time of the month. I clock in, work my shift and clock out. I bring nothing home with me after my work day ends. I leave and spend time doing whatever I want. I'm a Navy veteran and gained a trade skill while serving which I was able to transition into a civilian occupation. After a few deployments, for me at least, working a steady job that I get to go home every day is awesome."

    IT worker

    10. "I'm a department manager in a chain grocery store. I'm salaried and earn $61,000 a year. It's a five-minute drive from my house and a 10-minute drive from my son's school. I love my coworkers and customers. I have the flexibility to drive my son to and from school and get five weeks of vacation a year. it's enough for me, especially because I get to have a good work/home balance."


    11. "I dropped out of high school, worked random jobs for a while, then went to vocational school to be a mechanic. I've always loved cars and my dad started me working on them before I could drive. My career field is 'ordinary' and blue-collar, but I am not ordinary: I'm really freaking good at what I do, and my career trajectory and earnings show it. My husband is also in the automotive industry, and we've done well enough for ourselves that we bought a house in one of the most expensive markets in America — we both grew up here and love it, and buying means we can stay."

    mechanic in a car shop

    12. "Three months ago, I started working for an insurance company in their claims department. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and people look at me so funny when I say that! I literally go through stacks of mail all day — some take more time than others, some go fairly quickly, and I love it so much. I love going to work and more or less knowing exactly what I’ll be doing that day. Before this, I worked in a call center for healthcare and it was bleak as hell because of how broken our healthcare system is. The only thing I wanted when I finally worked up the nerve to quit from there was a job where everything didn’t happen to be done as fast as possible. And I got it! This is the first job I’ve ever had where I don't dread going to work. I hope I can keep this job for a long time."


    13. "I actually work two jobs — one in education, and one at a national warehouse chain since the job in education pays like garbage. I find that tons of people see me in my retail position every day, including people I went to high school with, and it’s degrading in a sense. Even though the warehouse is known for excellent pay and benefits for its employees, there’s something 'unfortunate' about being a 30-something adult still working in, essentially, a store. I want these people to see me in my actual career, making a difference in kids’ lives, but instead, I feel I’m seen as someone who 'just bags groceries.' I’m so much more than my job, but alas, I feel like the sum of my existence is that I’m a retail employee, and I despise myself for it."

    grocery store employee

    14. "I'm a siding mechanic. I have been doing this since I was 20 years old. I love my job. I get to work with my hands, and it can be challenging physically. We work on scaffolding, so I get to pretend I am a circus performer everyday (so much fun). The pay isn't outstanding, but I make a living. I get to travel to different homes, about 12 or more a year. Wearing a 35-pound toolbelt all day can be tough, and working outside every day can be more challenging than the actual work, especially in the summer. I work five to six days a week — never missed a day during the pandemic, since it's quite easy to social distance when you are always outside. The job is rewarding though because it's creative — I get to make an impact on an old eyesore and protect your asset. Construction work is as old as the hills."

    people fixing the siding of a home

    15. "I work in pest control, which is an often overlooked and under-appreciated 'dirty' job. We treat issues in homes, restaurants, grocery stores, food processing facilities, hospitals, hotels, and a lot more. The pests we deal with vary from those that are a nuisance to those that pose serious health concerns. I was quite surprised at the level of science that goes into the field. But I fell in love with getting to be active and independent while also helping others."

    pest control spraying a garden

    16. "I work for a company that provides customer service for a lot of different companies. I currently 'work' for an online retailer. I used to work at a movie theater, but I got let go earlier in the pandemic. My partner is immunocompromised so I have no desire to be around people anyway. I get to work from home with this company. I really like it! I get to work in comfy clothes, no commute, and I can roll my eyes at silly, entitled people all I want as long as my voice is cheery. Even when it can be frustrating, customer service is fun and I like helping people, even if I'm just helping them get their return label."


    17. "I worked at a thrift store for many years. The staff were the nicest people I have ever met. Yes, there were cliques, but everyone was welcoming. The environment got to the point where you would see a new item and hoped your associate Michelle would have a chance to buy it because 'it was so her.' It really helped solidify relationships and knowing a person beyond work. Also, I never worked in a place where customers would treat the employees well. Sure, some were toxic, but I had one customer consistently give me clothes because she totally knew it was my style. Employees would go out of their way to try and help customers in need — if we saw the same woman every week with a baby, we would rush to tell her to when all baby clothes were half off! At first, I was so embarrassed to be working at a thrift store. Within two weeks, I was proudly telling my friends I worked there and to come through."

    two thrift store employees carrying clothess

    18. "I’ve worked in a courthouse since 2009 — rarely any pay raises or opportunity for advancement, but great insurance and benefits when I retire. Honestly, as a kid, my dream job was to be a mom and this job has let me do that. It’s flexible, low-stress, and I can leave at 5 p.m. and focus on my family. My kids are getting older, and I’m just now starting to think about a career change into something that I’d genuinely enjoy. I don’t regret the decision to stick with the boring job while they were little. "

    mother tucks a napkin into her older son's shirt

    19. "I work customer service for student loans. It’s from home and there are no video calls, so I don't have to wear makeup and can take naps during my lunch. No matter what job I do I won’t like it, so I may as well keep a job that's convenient."


    20. "I'm a receptionist and I love it. It's a very ordinary job working 9–5 Monday through Friday. People look at me weird for still being a receptionist in my late 30s, but it's a really good fit for me. I love being in front, talking to people on the phone, and having a connection with clients when they visit. My bosses are good to me and it's not a stressful job. I don't need added stress in my life. I do my calls and go home — I've been doing it for six years. It's perfect for my mental health, and I get to enjoy my weekends!"

    receptionist at a clinic

    21. "I’m a project manager at an educational non-profit and I absolutely love it. About half of my job is event planning for conferences and meetings throughout the year, and the other half is keeping our various grant-funded projects and initiatives. Each day feels a little different. I get to have meetings with so many passionate academic leaders who want to make things better for students and it’s inspiring. My schedule is relatively flexible. I’m not micromanaged and I mostly get to dictate what I work on each day. I work remotely at least two days a week still. I can take time on the clock for professional development, and my job will pay for half of my tuition if I decide I want to go back to school. I feel so lucky to have found this incredible 'average' job. I was very burned out at my last job and it’s refreshing to end my day feeling satisfied and accomplished instead of crying in my car. I’ve been here just over a year and I could not be happier."

    woman closing her eyes and enjoying the sun

    22. "When I graduated from high school 19 years ago, I was encouraged by my parents to get a job while I decided if I wanted to go to college. I was hired at a grocery store that’s part of a local chain in western New York…and I’m still here! I’ve worked in various departments like front end, floral, and prepared foods. I even tried my hand at management for about a year and a half at another location — that didn’t work out, mostly because of COVID and my mom becoming more ill, so I went back to cashiering at my old store. Now, I work at our in-store coffee shop as a barista! I love having set hours, a steady stream of regulars, and room for flexibility to care for my elderly dad since my mom passed away last year. It’s not a glamorous or exciting job, but it works for me!"


    23. "As an adult manager in fast food, I often deal with the misconception that I am unemployable in other fields or unintelligent because I work in food service. People don't realize that there is a lot of strength found in being a manager — I am also an accountant, inventory specialist, economist, Human Resources professional, referee, entertainer, animal enthusiast, time management specialist, and in most cases, a babysitter for other adults. I have to make sure everyone is doing their job to make sure the place is clean, sanitized, and ready to prepare your order in a timely manner."

    pizza store employee

    24. "I want to normalize the fact that many people with mid-level office jobs don't have enough work to fill their entire day, and that's okay! I work a standard 9–5 job in a normal American office and am handed about three to four hours worth of work each day, and guess what? I'm still a valuable human being and love my job. I don't live to work, I work to live. And as long as my family is provided for and I am able to increase our quality of life, I consider my day as valuable as anyone else's, no matter how different it might look from the current hustle culture."

    receptionist with a stack of paperwork

    25. "I just started a job in HR after years of working as a teacher and in retail. A few months ago, I realized that I hadn’t been able to really relax in many years and I started experiencing some chest pains. The slap in the face that I needed to make a big change was when I realized that I just couldn't get myself to calm down ever. So, I found a job that I knew would be boring and not my passion, but one that was calm and made me more money than my other jobs. My life is very boring now, but I feel so relaxed and it has made a huge difference in my mind and body."

    —Anonymous, 30, Georgia

    26. "I'm a department manager at a public library. I don't make a lot of money, but my motivations have always been about a job I enjoy and that makes an impact on my community. I've been there 19 years and I love it. I connect with community members and groups, assist some of the most marginalized people in our community, and lead my department in determining our goals and plans for the future. It's a very satisfying, busy career."

    librarian pushing a cart of books

    27. "I work in food safety. It's a pretty important job in the grand scheme of things and it can be lucrative. The issue is that you have to stay in one field for five to six years at one place to make any real financial headway. It's also rare to work from home because it's field-based due to inspections. I love my work, but I am constantly looking for side hustles to make ends meet. And with the expansion of tech jobs and knowing those salaries, it's causing me to look elsewhere. We need food inspectors, but I need the money more."

    food safety person checking apples

    28. "I'm a claims adjuster. I like that I can actually directly help customers in their time of need. I work approximately two to eight hours of overtime every week. I refuse to switch to a position where that wouldn't be compensated fairly, so I stick with hourly positions. But even if I could move up to other hourly positions, I don't know that I would. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to work towards the top, not attending college, working retail or customer-faced jobs, or being hourly instead of salaried."

    "There are so many stories and reasons why people have the jobs that they do. Some of us genuinely like our jobs. Some of us have no other choice. Many of us couldn't switch even if we wanted to, since seemingly every job requires 1-5 years of experience and doesn't recognize the valuable skills developed within the 'average' job that could replace this." —myotterlife

    29. "I am a 26-year-old college dropout, and I have been working retail for the last six years. The pay is garbage, and honestly some customers make me want to rage quit, but I genuinely love working clothing sales. Building walls, stocking, helping a customer find exactly what they need — I love it! My parents aren't all too happy with where I've ended up, but I am enjoying it. It's nice to connect with customers."

    clothing store retail worker

    30. "I work for a multinational delivery service and it has its ups and downs. We work in the heat of summer and cold of winter delivering all the stuff people order online, but we also move a lot of the material companies use for manufacturing. If you've ever bought any kind of furniture that is covered with cloth or leather, there is a decent chance one of us delivered the material to the company that produced it. I like my job enough that I've worked there for more than two decades, most of it part-time because it pays enough that I can live on that paycheck without wearing myself down — many of my co-workers who are full-time have better lifestyles, but they also have back and knee problems and kids to support. The only long-term downside is I now hate most 'gift giving' holidays."

    delivery man unloading a van full of amazon packages

    31. "I just got an admin job at a small local insurance agency. The door-to-door commute is 10 minutes. I wanted a job where I leave work at work and can take off when I want to. The pay is low, but people are nice there. My focus is my personal life, spending time with my husband, taking care of us and our animals, and enjoying our child-free years with lots of travel and outings."

    couple with their three dogs

    32. "I've been a sales administrative assistant since I was 19, when didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't know what I wanted to study in school and didn't want to waste my money, so I applied through a temp agency for a part-time job while I figured it out. I got into the food service industry and knew zero things about it when I started, but I found out it's dynamic and pretty interesting — there is literally always something new to learn and develop. I've been in the industry for 14 years now. I moved to a different company five years ago, and it's perfect. I leave my work at work as an administrator, I am paid a salary, my coworkers are absolutely delightful, and the culture of my company is top-notch. I highly recommend taking temporary work placements to figure out what kind of environment works for you!"


    33. "I’m a sous chef at a retirement/assisted living community. It’s an easy job, and it’s close to my house. I get up, go to work every day and I’m ok with that. I hate working when I could be doing something more enjoyable or enlightening, but we do what we have to."

    ayo edebiri as a sous chef in "the bear"

    34. "I work as an English teacher in Korea and have for the last six years. I work from 9–5, have breaks during the day, prep time, and don’t take my work home with me. I have a pension that’s been building for years, a steady paycheck, and health insurance. There are definitely cons, but this job has really propelled me into a life that I love living. I didn’t have to go to school for ages and get weighed down in debt. I love the students that I teach and enjoy the quality of life I’ve been afforded here. It’s not the typical career path, but it’s given me extraordinary opportunities that I never would have had otherwise."


    35. "I am a high school dropout who landed a job with a family at their IT firm. We’ve never had more than 10 people employed with us. I was hired to buy inventory, but two years in, the manager/owner trained me to do her bookkeeping because she hated it. I’ve done that for 22 of my 24 years there. Every year on my anniversary I often say, 'This is either a really good thing or a really bad thing' that I’ve been there so long. The one thing I am happy about is that it’s allowed me to have the family life I wanted. My whole life I wanted to just be present in my family life. No one ever gets to their deathbed thinking, 'I should have worked more.' I think what makes me stay put more than anything is the time I get to have with my family. That’s been irreplaceable."

    it support helping out a co-worker on their computer

    36. "I'm an office manager for a small church in my town. I work Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and can have time off whenever I need or want it. It's definitely not a glamorous or important job in the grand scheme of things, but that's exactly why I love it. I love that I work mostly by myself. My office is quiet, the members of the congregation are kind and easy to deal with, and my job is stress-free. My husband has a big, important job that he loves and it definitely affords me the opportunity to be able to have my 'simple' job and I'm so grateful for that. I have been able to be available for our kids as they've grown up and enjoy vacations and time off of work. I really love my job and I am completely satisfied with my position."

    person at the front of a church

    37. "I work in product support for a corporation and my husband is a cable technician. We've had the same jobs for seven and 10 years respectfully, with no regrets. We work 40 hours a week, no overtime. We are almost always home on time, and we can still afford a vacation here and there for our family. To us, spending time with our children is more important than making more money which usually means more hours. We can afford our mortgage, two cars, daycare, etc., and still have a little bit left over, and that's all we need."

    family posing in the mirror for a picture

    38. "I'm a pre-school teacher. I love what I do. I get to 'play' with the kids, and I am also one of the first people to notice any red flags with children. There is a lot more to it than 'playing.' We plan curriculums, follow standards set by the state, supervise your kids, and help them learn all the important social skills of being a human. Often, I am overlooked and thought of as a babysitter, but there is so much more to it than that. I love what I do, I just wish there was a little more respect for the job title involved. Early childhood educators are teachers too and should be treated as such."

    pre-school kids with teacher in the back

    39. "I have been working from home since 2016 doing IT consulting and security. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t fathom returning to an office and dealing with daily driving, office politics, and everything else involved with it."


    40. "I'm a manager in a large chain store. I started in a part-time minimum wage position, had good coworkers, and enjoyed the work itself. I worked my way up cause I was reliable and they were willing to teach me new skills. I had gone to college for graphic design and almost graduated, but a serious bout of mental illness stopped me from completing what I needed for my diploma. I stayed in retail because I was valued, enjoyed the variety (no two days are doing the same things) and honestly I'm making more money than a lot of my graphic design colleagues. I've been with the company long enough that I earn quarterly bonuses and a few permanent raises, plus health benefits. COVID-19 kicked our butts and burned everyone out, and we're kind of falling apart now, but the benefits outweigh the cons. Besides, I don't know where I would go. Most jobs with similar pay and benefits want a degree."


    41. "I started work for an insurance company in the late 2000s making $10 an hour in the mail room. I thought it was going to be a boring place to work full of old people. I was so wrong! I've been promoted multiple times, I have my own desk, great co-workers, a set schedule, and fantastic benefits. The best part: I don't worry about work after I leave for the day! No one calls me at home during off-hours, and I don't get called in on my day off. Some might think it's boring but let me tell you, folks in the insurance industry know how to have a good time!"

    42. "For a long time, I wanted to be exceptional. I'm average at everything and was incredibly ambitious, so I tried going for a Ph.D. or working for consulting firms all over the world. I hated it. I wasn't good at it because those things only take the best, and no matter how ambitious or driven I am, I'll always be average. And that's not a bad thing! My friends who are still chasing those dreams work 60+ hour work weeks and get paid less than what I do for my normal desk job at an office. My ambition didn't go away as a character trait, I just learned to channel it in more healthy directions. To the other ambitious people like me: Slow down and find a way to get what you really want out of life. It's been six years since I changed roles, and I have no regrets."

    43. "I'm a medical assistant. I work four 10-hour shifts per week. People are constantly asking, 'Why not just become a nurse?' Because I like the routine that comes with an outpatient clinic, having weekends off, and the freedom to take a vacation or time off when I need to. I don't make a whole lot of money, but I make a good enough living to get by and my health insurance plan is awesome."

    44. "I'm a purchasing manager for a small manufacturing company. Honestly, the job is super easy, but stressful at the same time due to the material shortages cause by COVID-19 and the lack of labor. I cannot tell you the last time that I honestly worked a full 40 hours, it's usually around 35 hours a week because I'm efficient at my job. With that being said, I am bored all of the time! I wish I had a more challenging and rewarding job, but I'm comfortable and my salary isn't bad. This job awarded me the ability to buy a house in late 2020 for asking price that needed zero work done to it. I try to make time for friends and fun on the weekends, but other times, I just shut down because I'm so unhappy with where I'm at in life and who I'm with. Who knows if getting a new partner would change that, or if getting a new career would, but I kinda feel like I'm just wasting my best years away."

    employee at desk looking off camera

    45. "I work part-time with insurances/customer service, and take care of my daughter. My husband works full-time at a college and he loves his job. I like that I have set hours and I have time to spend with my daughter. I've worked at jobs that paid better, but it was long hours and tons of stress. It wasn't worth ruining my mental health. I have no intention of ever wanting to do something different. I like that I have a lot of family time and a job that doesn't feel like I'm drowning in stress. We don't have a huge house, but we live in a nice neighborhood and can afford what we need. That's fine by me."

    mother in work clothes hugging her daughter upon return to home

    46. "I’ve been chronically ill since I was 15, and I find stress plays a big role in my health — if I have lots, I end up in the hospital. So, I went out of my way to find the least stressful job I could find. I’m an administrative assistant at a very cushy company that no one wants to leave, and it pays me well enough that I live comfortably with good savings. It’s unionized and it has good benefits, so when I am sick, I have no worries. More than once I’ve been asked if I wanted to apply for 'better' jobs like office manager or an executive assistant because I would be quite good at them, and I’d be a shoo-in for the position. I don’t doubt that I would be, but I don’t want the stress, so I turn them down. I don’t want to go home and think about all the things I didn’t finish or be sick all the time because of it. For me, it’s just not worth the decent pay raise. I’m happy and healthy, I have job security, and regular raises. Why would I mess that up?"

    employee on headset smiling

    47. "I'm an office manager for my family's small construction disposal business. My husband is a quality assurance analyst for a call center. We both have our bachelor's degrees and own a house we bought before the market skyrocketed. We have no children and do not plan to. We have two dogs, a comfortable lifestyle for our income, and travel occasionally. We're happy. We enjoy the time we get to dedicate to ourselves and our interests. We haven't turned passions into side hustles — not knocking people who do, but we enjoy our downtime. We both enjoy the work we do. We maybe aren't 'passionate' about it, but we enjoy the work and the stable income. There really is no need for grad school for either of us. We aren't 'climbing the corporate ladder' or pushing to get a bigger house or anything. We're just honestly content with our lives as they are."

    —Anonymous, 32, Georgia

    48. "I'm an admin assistant and scheduler for a home services company. I am paid above the average for this position in my area and am financially comfortable, but the work is mind-numbingly boring. My co-workers are just okay. My issue is that this is not a company that is empathetic to mental health issues, and that has become blatantly obvious as I've struggled over the last year or so. I've worked in mostly customer service-based jobs since I was 19 and I'm beyond over it. I'm an introvert. I do not like people. I'd love to have another lockdown. Thanks to my job, I am anxious all the time and the sound of a phone ringing immediately makes me want to punch walls like some kind of office Pavlovian dog. I've begun writing a book in hopes of publishing it and beginning my dream career as an author."

    woman transcribing from a book into her journal

    49. "I’m a project manager at an insurance company. I spent so many years in university working towards multiple degrees in Linguistics, even studying overseas for a year in the UK at one of the best universities in the world. I used to think that I had to have an impressive job in order for people to like me or see me as a success. Like it was my whole personality. Then seven years ago, I gave it up and came home to take care of a sick family member. I felt like a failure until a friend told me, 'You just need enough in life to pay the bills and to do something fun every once in a while.' It was really the permission I needed to allow myself to be happy and leave the rat race. I have four degrees, but I now work an 8–5 job that doesn’t require a degree. I have health insurance, a steady paycheck, and time to spend with the people I love."

    "I also live in a small apartment-style condo that only costs me $700 a month to own, which is very below my means and possible because I choose to live in a small Midwest town. I love my life because I work to live and not live to work. I like my job, my boss, and my coworkers. I love my hobbies and my time outside of work." —Anonymous, 32, Iowa

    50. "I have been in the plastic films industry for going on 20 years. I enjoy the work, though it's challenging due to the various things that can throw everything out of the loop. I have moved from entry-level machine operator to assistant to lead operator, and now Senior Lead Machine Operator for the last four years. My goal is to move to process technician later this year to replace a retiring co-worker which I have been cross-training for about five years. I'd like to stay in this field because it is a position that is less physical and I can see myself retiring in 20+ years."

    factory associate working with plastic film

    51. "I work in marketing as a copywriter. My goals in life have always been pretty simple: Have a comfortable place to live, friends I can see regularly, enough living space for a couple of cats, and enough expendable income that I don’t have to worry about food and can afford to travel a bit. This job checks all that for me. I don’t want a job where I’m on call 24/7, or where I feel like every decision could end a life. I’m not really important in the grand scheme of things, and I kind of love that."

    hugging guests at the front door

    What are some jobs that stood out to you? If you also have a supposedly "ordinary" or "average" job, how do you actually feel about your situation? Share your truth in the comments.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.