UNITED STATES—It has been a question that I’ve debated for years and I get plenty of blow back from people that I know all the time. Is a job that requires mental strength more exhaustive than a job that requires physical strength? It is a very loaded question and to be honest there is no clear-cut right or wrong answer here. The only thing I can say, and this is from my personal experience working both mental jobs and physical jobs, neither of them are easy.
This might go back to the age old question of white collar vs. blue collar. I think both forms of labor are respectable in their own ways, but one can be more taxing than others. A physical labor job for most Americans keeps them on their feet for at least 8-10 hours per day. I mean can you imagine a job where you are literally on your feet most of the day, sans an hour for lunch and two breaks that you get during your shift? Most people cannot and there is there is a valid argument that a physical job is much harder to perform than one that requires mental strength.
To a degree, I will consign that argument. In some ways a physical job requires not just strength and constant movement, but you are placed in those situations where you are mentally challenged as well. You’re balancing your physical abilities and mental abilities at the same time and I continue to go back to the fact that you are on your feet.
When you compare that to most mental jobs, you’re sitting in a chair for most of the day. That’s the one con I have about mental or white collar jobs: you sit too much. I’m someone who loves to be up and move around. I don’t like sitting still, hence one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of mental jobs. Of course, you tell yourself you’re going to get up and move every hour, but that soon becomes a thing of the past. What you say and what you do are two different things.
Then you have the stress that comes with mental jobs. You’re placed in that predicament where your brain and your ability to process information and challenging situations at a feverish pitch. I do believe the stress of a mental job is way worse than a physical job. You have to prepare for this, prepare for that, respond to this, respond to that; you can easily burn out from the stress alone. On the flipside, a physical job can be just as stressful, so it depends on what you do and the people that you have to work with.
I will make the claim that it’s easier to spot a lazy person at a physical job than it is at a mental job. With most white-collar jobs you don’t witness the laziness of a person until the workload that they were to complete falls into your lap. I think most of us want to perform white collar jobs because most tend to pay more, but at the same time, do you really want that stress that comes with the money?
I’ve come to that assertion that the stress that comes with management a lot of the time is not worth the money that you make. You’re left so stressed, exhausted at the end of the work day the only thing that you can think about is hoping for the week to come and go. I was hoping to prove a point that one job is harder than the other, but by writing this piece I’ve come to the conclusion that they are both equally taxing.
Here’s the problem, many of those who work physical labor aka blue collar jobs don’t get the respect they deserve. No matter what job you do, they all have purpose for those out there who diminish and frown upon those doing jobs that they see as minimal, should shut their lips until they walk in that person’s shoes.