I am a lucky lady. I get paid to do two very different things, both of which I thoroughly enjoy. I analyze data and I write. Both of these jobs focus on my personal areas of interest. I find my work to be both exciting and fulfilling. In theory, I have everything I could ask for.
Please don’t throw this in my face next time I’m exhausted and whining from working a 14-hour day where absolutely nothing goes right. See, I love writing. As an activity, I find writing to be fun, cathartic and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, as a job, writing also brings deadlines, word counts and dry spells. I’m sure this is truly shocking, but some times I just don’t have an opinion. On anything. At all! But if writing is your job, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have an opinion or if your mind feels like mush and you can’t manage to string words together into sentences. You have to find a way to produce a product.
Data analysis may not seem like a hobby to most people, but finding patterns in numbers can be pretty cool. Watching data create a picture of a person’s day through hundreds of different measures is interesting. It feels like solving a puzzle on a day-to-day basis. But after I find the solution, I spend another three hours packaging all my hard work into easy-to-use tables and charts. I have to find ways to communicate with my co-workers the patterns that I find and what they mean. This can lead to a lot of frustrated explanations between people who look at information in very different ways.
Every job has it’s positives and negatives. I realize that. And when I sit at my desk, plugging away at my tasks fro hours without talking to co-workers or interfacing with supervisors, I know that I’m in a pretty sweet spot. But put me in meetings, conference calls and writer’s block for a day and we might have an issue.
The biggest factor in the job vs. work comparison has to be the people around me. Both writing and analysis are very solitary tasks. However, they force me to interact with quite a few people throughout my day. The editors and commenters, the salesmen who collect my data, the managers who utilize it; everyone needs something different. All of these people want my work in a format that is easiest for them to consume. It’s not just creating a report or writing my thoughts. There’s a packaging process in everything I do that becomes so numbing.
I write down my thoughts to communicate with the world, but sometimes, I don’t know what to tell you. I study patterns to find efficiencies and problems, but there are times when I have no idea how to help others see what I see. I am deeply proud of the work that I do, but I might still need to build on my job performance. Because in my world, those aren’t the same things.