My day job is amazing because I’m in an environment that truly values work-life balance. I’m out of the office by 4 pm every day and I never have to take work home with me. My boss encourages us to take advantage of our paid time off (she even told me that if I don’t get sick often then I should use my time for mental health reasons!). My insurance includes therapy and acupuncture benefits. I get a free gym membership and I’m encouraged to attend fitness classes on my lunch break (hellooooooo Zumba obsession). I feel valued for my contributions and supported by my team and encouraged to learn and grow.
My consulting gig is great because it fulfills my activism side. I get to write about the achievements of an organization that’s funding really important gender justice work and I get paid well to do so. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to marry my marketing skills with a cause that I’m truly passionate about. I was initially worried about starting two new jobs at the same time, but I’m so glad that I swallowed my fear of taking on too much and accepted the position.
It’s pretty great!
But life right now is also just draining enough that when I get home from work and finish my consulting to-do list, all I can handle is eating dinner and then slaying demons in Diablo III with Conrad until I collapse into bed at 9 pm.
Staycation dream: write a blog every day, read a whole book, sew that dress that I’ve been meaning to get to (you know, the one I’ve had the fabric and pattern for since, ummm, last May), write a new song and maybe even record it if I’m feeling feisty, and clean the house top-to-bottom.
Staycation reality: lose a whole day when the Toyota dealership messes up my safety recall repairs appointment, lose half of another day when the serpentine belt in Conrad’s truck busts, go to Target 4 separate times because every time I forget to pick up something else we’re about to run out of, spend a whole lot of time cleaning before realizing that our house will just never look good until we finally get around to a serious renovation, and make all of the appointments and deal with all of the paperwork that I’ve been neglecting for weeks.
It baffles my mind how much work there is to do outside of work.
“When You Don’t Know How to Follow Your Dreams” is a series of my reflections on a career path that has been defined by graduating into a failed economy and trying to navigate a windy road toward finding my “calling.” Start here.
After I decided to quit teaching and yet again felt like a failure in the career department, I realized that it was time to take stock of my situation and rethink my strategy on this whole job thing. I’ve had a fair amount of jobs in my day, including: teacher at an environmental after-school program, sales associate at a natural cosmetics company, babysitter, children’s educator at a botanical garden, volunteer coordinator at an elementary school and a non-profit, development associate, canvasser, baker, and men’s skincare maker (and those are just since graduating college!).
Some lasted longer than others. Some were part-time. None ever felt like they held a future, or at least not a future I wanted. I’d built a lot of skills in outreach, partnership development, event planning, and program management, but somehow none of the jobs that pulled these skills together felt right either.
And I kept thinking that I just hadn’t found the right organization where I could flourish or I just had bad luck graduating into the economy at the height of the Great Recession. But I think the real reason for all of my ongoing career dissatisfaction was that I wasn’t approaching my job searches in the right way. I wasn’t asking myself the right career questions. And that’s why I kept feeling like I was banging my head against the wall.