I don’t know how to say this without making it sound dramatic, but here goes:
I believe that I am currently standing at a crossroads.
(I mean, I didn’t have to italicize it. That was a choice.)
I’ve recently resigned from the job I’ve loved for four years, mostly because I realized that, due to a bunch of changes, my job was now bringing out the worst in me. I want to spend my days doing things that bring out the best in me.
And I am realizing that I don’t know what that is. After almost fifteen years of working, a graduate degree, dozens of personality/career assessments, I am asking this question:
What do I wanna be when I grow up?
What do I want to learn about? What skills do I want to acquire? What do I want to be better at? How do I want to learn and grow? This post is my way of sifting through all of these ponderings.
PART I: YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO QUIT YOUR JOB WHEN…
You know you need to quit your job when –
- You feel trapped. At my old job, I started to feel like I couldn’t leave. Mainly because leaving would mean taking a pay cut, at least temporarily. That made me feel trapped. I have a family, and obv I want to take care of them and have financial security. So how could I leave my (miserable) job and do something slightly less profitable?
I finally just had to realize that I wasn’t trapped. I had to make a choice. As soon as I realized I cared more about my everyday happiness than my paycheck, I got my freedom back.
2. You’re getting weirdly emotional when TV show characters are trying to find their bliss.
In the middle of all my job angsting, I re-watched the final season of Parks & Rec. For much of the season, April is trying to figure out what career she wants to pursue; she’s systematically figuring out what things she likes to do and narrowing in on the kind of job she wants. I found this fascinating and started working on my own list. (See below.)
I ALSO re-watched the final season of How I Met Your Mother. (It’s possible that I watch a lot of Netflix when I’m stressed out.) During that season, Lilly and Marshall are arguing over whether to stay in NY so that Marshall can be a federal judge or move to Italy so that Lilly can work in the art world. Lilly gets pregnant with their second kid, and she thinks that’s that – she can’t take her dream job because she’s having a baby. And then, because MARSHALL AND LILLY ARE THE BEST EVER, Marshall has the exact opposite reaction – when he finds out Lilly is preggers, he says that they have to go to Rome, to make her dream come true, because she’s already given him his dream come true twice.
I mean – this is all adorbs, no matter what. But in my angsty it’s-too-late-to-have-my-dream-job state, it had me crying my little eyes out. Because I am constantly having moments like Lilly, when I think to myself, “It’s too late to have your dream come true.”
3. You’re getting the Sunday blues. For years, I’ve listened to friends talk about the Sunday Blues. You know – that little stomachache or burst of anxiety that you get on Sunday evenings, knowing that the work week is about to start. For some people, it takes the form of specific anxiety about a task or duty that needs to get done. For some people, it’s more a more global experience, a sadness that you’re approaching the part of your week when you’re not in control of how you spend your time.
Yeah. The Sunday Blues. They suck. And I had actually never experienced them until recently. PART II: THE MOST INEFFICIENT JOB HUNT EVER
Once I decided that I needed a new job, I engaged in a manic job hunt that was an insane roller coaster ride. I applied for jobs, was offered jobs, and then realized that I didn’t want those jobs. I started making a list of things I wanted in my work:
- I want to work for myself. NO BOSS. I was catching up with a friend at Powell’s last year and started venting to her about work. I explained that I didn’t love my current boss, or the previous boss, or the one before that – and a guy browsing nearby started laughing at me. Because I guess if you’re struggling with three bosses in a row, maybe it says more about you than the bosses? FINE GUY IN POWELL’S I SEE YOUR POINT.
- I want to do something that I am excited about doing. Right now, I like what I’m doing – but I’m not totally psyched to go to work every day. (And for me, it is 100% possible for me to be psyched to go to work every day.)
- I want less stress.
- I want to work close by home and Teddy and Tee.
- I want to have my own personal space – an office or an area that’s all mine, set up awesomely and beautifully and therapeutically.
- I would love for my work to be more active and more outdoorsy. On my last day at work, I spent a good chunk of the day playing basketball with middle schoolers, and I’d forgotten how much I love playing sports with kids. It’s pretty good therapy, if you ask me.
- I want to work for as little time as possible for as much money as possible.
- I want a flexible schedule that I make myself.
- I love working with kids – but I’ve also realized that I enjoy helping adults figure out what they want to do with their lives, what they want to be when they grow up.
I started making a list of things I am or strive to be, too: A writer. A therapist for children. A farmer. A mommy. A wife. Peaceful. Loving. Kind. Healthy. Strong. Graceful. Faith-full. Mindful. When I start to feel lost or angsty, I look at this list. I love looking at this list. I feel peaceful whenever I read it. This list has not yet told me exactly what my next step should be – but it’s helped me to clarify who I am and who I want to be, and that’s pretty cool.
PART III: THE TEMPORARY FIX
Without writing out every twist and turn of the last six months, I can jump to the end of the story: I found a new day job. And I’m thinking about where exactly I want my career to go. And I’m becoming braver about a) admitting that I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and b) actually putting my fingers on the keyboard and ****ing writing.
It’s an exciting time, but it’s also scary. Because I am veryveryvery afraid that I don’t have the capacity or the talent to do everything I want to do.
PART IV: WHAT I WANT (I THINK?)
What I want keeps changing. Which is one of the reasons I am planning to stay put for a while.
But, here are some consistencies in what I want: I want a job that’s a little less mainstream. I want to feel free to be my authentic self, at home and at work. I want my WHOLE life to be an honest representation of who I am. I want everything in my life to connect, to make sense in a simple and lovely way. Therapy. Writing. Mommying. Farming.
I don’t know how to get the things I want right now; that’s why I’m doing my best to stay still, to be in the moment, and to wait for guidance regarding the next right thing to do.