Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Singles Value Meaningful Work – And Did So Even in High School

Meaningful work should be one of life's prizes. Imagine working not (just) because you need the money but because you are passionate about what you do. You find your work interesting, challenging; you like that you get to use your skills, solve problems, learn things, and maybe even help other people.

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Well I think there's a major

Well I think there's a major component here that hasn't been discussed. The "meaningful" jobs probably require more education-- college and even grad school. If you are just concerned with a steady paycheck, college is probably a good idea, but grad school is probably unnecessary (and to the type of person who just wants a steady paycheck, probably a repulsive idea). Therefore, the students who were predisposed to wanting a "meaningful" job were still probably in the middle of or just finishing their education at 26 or 27, while the "pay check" students probably finished at 18 or 22. In addition the "meaningful" job kids were probably more likely to have incurred more student debt, because of the required education for their jobs as well as because of their willingness to pay for education.

Also, who knows if the chicken or egg came first? The students who were predisposed to wanting a steady paycheck were probably more financially able to have kids, etc., than students who fulfilled their dream of taking out $100K in law school loans to then toil away at an NGO.

And finally, I think that it's likely that the kids who were raised to value steady paychecks at secure jobs were also probably raised to believe that getting married and having kids is a super important "responsibility" in life- I don't know, the two ideals seem to go hand-in-hand. The kids who- already by high school-felt that meaningful jobs were important were probably raised to be more open-minded about careers (and to value education) and therefore more likely to be more open-minded about marriage as well.

Poor single mothers and work......

The mental health benefits of work: do they apply to poor single

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
D. Steinkopff-Verlag, Heidelberg
Volume 45, issue 1 (January 2010)

Background: The relationship between employment and improved mental health is well documented. However, no research has examined whether this relationship applies to poor single mothers. Given recent changes in the labor market where poor women are disproportionately employed in unstable jobs, the competing demands of work and childcare may operate to prevent poor women from reaping the mental health benefits of employment. In recent years, the face of employment in the U.S. has changed substantially in such a way that a sizable number of jobs have been intentionally structured to last a limited period of time or for a limited number of hours per week. This facet of the changing labor market and the consequent lack of employment continuity and potential for instability may disproportionately affect poor women as they are more likely to be employed in sporadic, part-time jobs. These emerging employment circumstances
suggest that, for large numbers of workers, particularly poor women, income is neither predictable nor sufficient, and employment is not only unreliable, but also highly uncertain. Given that work is the major source of economic well-being and a principal source of identity for many individuals, the potential uncertainty represented by unstable and unpredictable work may constitute a significant source of stress. As a result, psychologically, characteristics of employment instability such as casual, parttime, short-term, and inconsistent work can be as damaging to mental health as unemployment.Understanding
these connections has become more salient not just for mental health epidemiology but for policies targeting employment and poverty.

Methods: This study draws on four waves of data from the Welfare Client Longitudinal Study. Generalized estimating equations are utilized to assess the role of current employment and employment continuity on the depression status of poor single mothers over time. Through a comparison of results drawn from a dichotomous categorization of current employment with results drawn from measures of employment continuity, this study is also able to assess whether it is employment per se or the characteristics of
employment that matter.

Results: Overall, the results from this study suggest that current employment improves the mental health of many poor single mothers. However, the circumstances most likely to improve their mental health are full-time or stable, longer term employment.

Conclusions: The results from this study are of concern given that the lack of employment continuity is a growing trend in the U.S. labor market and poor women are disproportionately employed in these types of unstable jobs. These findings, thus, have wide-reaching implications for welfare policy as they provide an important and timely perspective in our understanding of the impact of the changing face of employment on poor women.

And this relates to the above topic how?


Something other than

Something other than intrinsic value of work might matter for poor single mothers.....and extrinsic value of work includes more than just pay. It seems to also include stability of the job. Please read again if you were unable to understand this the first time.

Perhaps intrinsic value and

Perhaps intrinsic value and meaning of work is something that only single people with privilege (not poor), who are relatively unburdened by dependents (meaning children in this case since almost everyone has parents) can aspire to. Other singles (in this case, single mothers) may not have the privileged position or freedom from obligations that allows more wealthy singles to strive for meaningful work. Class and childbearing status might have something to do with motivation to find meaningful work (as opposed to simply stable or well-paying work) for singles.

That's how it relates to the

That's how it relates to the above topic. Hope that was clear enough for you!

I think I see

Doing work you love may not be possible if basic survival is a struggle.

Exactly-you put it in much

Exactly-you put it in much simpler terms than I was able to.

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

My observations

When I lost my job 1 1/2 years ago, I definitely didn't want to do what I was doing at the time--environmental permitting for waterfront maintenance and development projects, because I didn't feel like I was saving any critters at my large company, I was just telling people what they wanted to hear in order to make projects happen. I started working as an independent for some of my old clients who offered me enough money to make refusal insane, and I discovered I do love the work when I get to decide who I work for and I can say what I want without fear of a boss yelling at me. The flexibility is great too; I'm able to work around my volunteer life and I don't have to ask if I can go on vacation.
Lately, since I returned to work after recovering from a major injury, it's been different. I feel hassled by my clients and work is an annoying intrusion. The difference? I have a parent in my house all the time because I've needed some care. When there's a life going on in the house with another person to consider, I don't have the same spontaneity and I lose the control I crave. That might be similar to a single/married situation. I know I felt I was much less in control of my own career decisions when I was married.
I'll be back on my routine next week, finally living on my own again. It's been interesting to observe what I've learned about myself and my friends and family on this journey.

Yes, Being Around Other People Stresses and Affects You

When there's a life going on in the house with another person to consider, I don't have the same spontaneity and I lose the control I crave. That might be similar to a single/married situation. I know I felt I was much less in control of my own career decisions when I was married.

Yes. Both this and the article are thought-provoking on how the struggle for mere survival will affect one, and here, how the stresses of being around other people affect one.

And a married person, a single mommy, or a married mommy or daddy have all the stresses you were subjected to involuntarily. Yet they chose it. I see a lot of not taking responsibility for one's choices in society: family people tied to supporting their kids, single mommies going on about the stress of it all, and people feeling for them, and people sometimes using emotional manipulation to whip people into support for aid programs and such. But most people haven't come around to accepting responsibility that they chose and at least contributed to their situation.

The issues are complex, and don't boil down to a single slogan. But, as far as I can tell, family people are not paying attention to a concept my mother summed up in a sentence:

"She should have thought of that before she got married."

And its corollary, "She should have thought of that before she had children."

Business as usual

I know I value meaningful work and have for as long as I can remember. I continue to transition to different opportunities whenever I feel it is time, and have paid for that financially. The people I know with dependants do not want to hear about this. Pursuing meaning is a luxury when you are responsible for the support of others. I frequently hear their work referred to as "just a job", because it exists in their life for the paycheck only, since family provides all meaning. Maybe they would like to have more fulfillment during the many hours they spend at work, but my impression is that is considered irresponsible. People who want to keep a good paying job that conflicts with their values will have the attitude, "that's just business" to justify whatever they have to do to continue to be paid. Kinda numbs your true desires after a while.

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Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.


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