Doing your job is not about what anyone else thinks about you, or it. Your perfect job is about what makes you happy, and what makes you feel valuable to the world. This value doesn’t come from some random set of guidelines for your life, set by parents or society or any other pressures; but from an indescribable feeling inside which you get when you’ve completed a day at work, to your own satisfaction. Photo: Ben Bialek
When people hear about my lifestyle as a guide in Alaska their first response, whether vocal or not, is typically this; ‘What are you planning on doing after you’re done guiding’? The assumption is, guiding is a job you take to have fun, before figuring out what you want to do with your life and settling down with a real job. I never initially thought I’d be doing this a few years down the road, but a change in mindset led me to a much happier lifestyle and career path.
I’m a smart guy. I grew up with parents who loved me and cared about my education and upbringing enough, and I was very privileged in those ways. I grew up in a society of monotony and linearity and most of all, pressure. If you were a smart person, you went to college, decided what you wanted to do to make a difference in this world, and worked at that goal for the rest of your life. You were supposed to be making people’s lives better who were less fortunate than you. I respect that, but looking back, more than anything I wish I could have been exposed to a more diverse range of lifestyles than sitting in a lab or at a desk, as every good academic should.
The majority of people spend their whole lives saving for that one big vacation for their kids, maybe grandkids, maybe both, to enjoy together. More and more often, families are coming to Alaska to enjoy their time in the Last Frontier, an unknown but accessible part of the world. I take this context extremely seriously. I might be one of few ‘real Alaskans’* these people meet, and often times what we get to do together are those which will leave the most memorable impact of their trips. Sometimes the impression of this place I love so much will rely entirely on our interactions, and I take this challenge very seriously.
My guests and clients have been through as much as anything. They’ve worked their years to gain the freedom to vacation with their family or their significant others. They deserve my 100% with every single interaction, and to be enthralled with this land as much as I was when I first visited 4 years ago.
Since I moved up here, I’ve run logistics on glaciers, national parks, and on the water. I’ve guided in all of these same beautiful places, leading people to views and experiences they never could have imagined possible. I’ve expanded people’s horizons, opening them up to activities they didn’t think were possible at their age, or never even realized existed. And I’ve gotten good at it. The feedback I get back is phenomenal. Guests have turned into lifelong friends, and I look forward to seeing them here in Alaska year after year, exposing them to new highs every time. But I don’t work for myself…yet. And associating with the right people and companies, is a struggle for every seasonal employee, and is really what I wanted most to reflect on today.
What happens when you’re working your tail off for someone else? Someone who doesn’t share your values, or morals? Someone who takes you for granted? How can you keep yourself happy, keep your self-worth high, and your mind in the right place?
Here’s what I think. I think you’ll be ok. If you’ve come to this point in your life, you’re introspective, you’re free-thinking, and you know your worth.
But keep yourself strong, and don’t let anyone take these things away from you.
There’s two simultaneous extremes happening right now in society. There’s a massive group of companies and corporations which care about money; and a growing network of small family businesses which care about the livelihood of their guests and their employees. I’ve been with both, multiple times.
There’s never a time where selling your worth is worth it. I’m not saying you should impulsively quit your job; but if time and time again you feel let down, and your value is not being appreciated, there is someone out there who will appreciate your worth. Nothing is more important than your own mental health, and coming out of every day proud of what you did and how you overcame the challenges thrown at you. If we keep giving in, letting companies get the best of us, they will never learn. If they truly think you’re not worth keeping around, let them see what it’s like without you. Be strong, be independent, and be proud; because the best of the best will always be sought after, and you will always land on your feet.
About the Author~
As a former microbiologist, my path has taken a sharp turn away from the mundane and towards an exciting career as a guide all over Alaska. From glaciers to sea kayaking, I’ve had the privilege to hone my skills while enjoying this amazing place with wonderful people. Everything in Alaska, from the scenery to native culture and modern practices, fascinate me. It’s taken a lot for a D.C-born city boy to become the man I am now, hunting and gathering for my own food, with the dream of living off the grid; but here I am, and I couldn’t be happier. Though the summer season isn’t shabby (especially when you’re sailing the open sea, looking at whales and orca every day) I really prefer winter in Alaska. Snow-covered mountains and skiing as far as you can imagine, there’s never a day off wasted. Please, come visit me, make yourself at home, and enjoy the wonders of this wonderland I’m lucky enough to call home.