There’s the job you have, and there’s the job you want. It’s rare that the two coincide. Now, I’m not sure that any of you are actually considering quitting your jobs to pursue any of the ones I’m about to list, but perspective is always nice. There are certain jobs that have a mystique of fun to them, and while they might indeed be enjoyable overall, it’s important to know both sides before you do something stupid like, I don’t know, actually trying to do one of them.
1. Radio DJ
Ok sure, it’s not 1995, so the DJ job isn’t nearly as coveted or popular as it once was. Back in the day, if you were the voice of the hottest station in town, the only people in the city more popular than you were in the band that happened to be playing a concert that weekend. Plus, they’d usually be on your show, too. But radio is still a pretty massive medium, even if its popularity is beginning to wane. Here’s the thing. By and large, people who work in radio are sad, lonely, angry people. The hours are brutal, the job is crushingly monotonous, and your surroundings are usually less than comfortable. Sure, you’re still getting paid to talk out of your ass and fill endless hours with stupid gimmicks, but unless you’re one of the big dogs, or you happen to be in a really large media market, you aren’t getting paid all that well. And what are you getting paid for exactly? Well let’s say you have a morning show. Your guests are gonna be a few local guests your listeners like, and people doing press. So bands, comedians, authors, and actors will be on your show for the purpose of hocking whatever thing they’re in town to sell. They don’t give a shit about you. You are one of dozens of faceless, chubby guys with a voice that’s too loud for your attitude that they’ll interact with in the next several months, so they’ll laugh hollowly at your jokes, give you the same stock answers they give every DJ, and then they’ll leave. That’s their luxury. They get to leave and not endure any more of the stupid, pointless droning. You, on the other hand, have made a career of it.
2. Nature photographer
Everyone wants to be a photographer. Why? Because everyone thinks they can be a photographer. I mean, your Instagram feed is poppin’, and your filter game is on point. Plus how hard can it be? You just buy a Canon whatever, drop it into auto-focus, and let the camera do the work, right? It’s astounding how many women in their 20s and 30s all of a sudden decide to become “professional” photographers a year or so into their marriage. It’s almost like you can see the boredom of being a stay-at-home mom (read: quit-my-job wife) in the way they frame their shots. What’s my point (other than being mean to a demographic of people who are relatively nice)? Well, if you’re someone who’s been working to become a photographer, that’s your competition. They’ll underbid you like crazy, and they flood the Internet with their poorly lit, badly constructed, wrong-lensed nature shots, and most people don’t really care about the difference. The fact is, people like seeing mountains with snow on them, and they don’t really care whether the person who took the picture knows what an f-stop is, or where the line for “too much HDR” ends. This is also compounded by having to deal with heat, cold, mosquitos, windburn, sand storms, plane layovers, broken equipment, and general travel costs. Which is all topped off with large websites seeing your photos online, putting them up without pay or credit, and making money off of your work. Still wanna go shoot that waterfall?
3. Disney princess
You are being paid to dress up as the movie character that you spent hours and hours watching as a kid. You wanted to be just like her, and now you have the chance to be her physical manifestation for thousands of impressionable kids at Disneyland. Dream come true, right? I’m sure that being an official princess has a lot of great job perks, but let’s really look behind the costume, shall we? You’re on your feet most of the day, in a climate that skews hot, wearing a dress that’s not built for comfort. Already getting shitty. Then, you’re dealing with kids. Now, even if you’re the biggest fan of kids this side of Neverland, you’d have to be out of your mind to still enjoy being around them after constant hours on end. Plus it’s not like the kids at Disneyland are the cream of the crop, behaviorally. They’re on vacation. It’s proven that people behave much worse than they normally would when they’re in exotic places, and this is no different with kids. Plus, there’s a selection bias issue at play. Kids with parents willing to fly them across the country to go to a destination particularly designed to appeal to children are statistically going to be more likely to be shitheads. I’m not going to pretend to know the ratio of delightful youngsters to hooligan youths, but it can’t be good, and being the personification of their hopes and dreams doesn’t help much either.
4. Sports writer
Bro, you love sports, and you love your opinions about sports. What could be better than being a sports writer? Well actually, a lot of things. First, this ain’t the ‘90s, sadly (which incidentally could be the motto of this website). You can’t just graduate with your journalism degree and have your pick of newspapers to start in. Print is dying. So you turn to writing online. The problem is, EVERYONE wants to write about sports online, and many of them are smarter, funnier, and more knowledgeable than you, while simultaneously willing to work for less money. Let’s say you finally get in with a publication that pays you relatively well. At this point, your entire life is sports, which sounds like a dream, except you’ll quickly find that sports wear thin very quickly. You’re covering basketball for instance. You’re going to every game, and instead of enjoying it like a fan, you’re writing down things you notice, cynical examinations of body language, breaking down each player’s game into an easily digestible paragraph. And that’s just the games. Sports haven’t been about the games for a long time. Sports are about storylines and ridiculous narratives, and now that the athletic world exists in the same 24 hour news cycle the rest of the media has devolved into, storylines happen and become frustrating in the blink of an eye. You think the Johnny Manziel hype got annoying? Think about what it’s like to be a writer. You have two choices, either write about the superficial storyline that you despise, or find yourself fading into obscurity because you’re not willing to cover the things the readership is demanding. Excited about your press credentials to the Jazz/Bobcats game now?