When Work Isn’t Working

Standard

I started this series of blog post, The Road So Far, in the middle of last year. I wanted to review my progress as a writer and figure out where it was leading me. By then it had been over a year since I graduated and still wasn’t working in the writing field. Ironically enough I was doing almost exactly what I was trying to avoid when I returned to school in the first place. I was working as an accounting assistant.

During school I was assigned a work study position in the Finance and Administration offices of the college, later obtaining a part time position with the college. I continued working there part time after I graduated, when a coworker retired I started full time in a temporary position. For the next year I worked at paying off my credit cards and saving money.

I tried to continue writing, submitting work, and apply to writing jobs while working full time. But I didn’t feel I was making enough progress with the small amount of time I had to focus on it. I started getting picky about jobs I applied for eventually allowing myself to get lazy with the comfort of having a job. I was beginning to feel like I was settling.

I set a savings goal, I hoped to reach by the end of the year, and would leave even if I still hadn’t found a new job. I was pretty on track with my goal when I found out my appointment would end in November. I ended up too low on the list to get a permanent accounting assistant position. They tried to keep me under a different title but couldn’t get approval for the change. I decided then that it was time to leave. I would be a little short of my goal but I took this as I sign it was time to leave. I offered to continue in my old position until December to help train a replacement.

The Road So Far

Standard
The Road Ahead

Photo by MysticMoon14 via Flickr

They say you can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you came from, or something like that. Not a fan of cliches but it fits the theme of this series of posts. As I feel the progress in my writing career has stalled out, taking a look at how far I’ve come might help. I feel no closer to my goals than I did when I first began to envision a future as a writer. Reflecting on how I got to this point and the work that I’ve put in may just reveal how far I’ve actually come. Hopefully, it will also encourage me to keep putting in the work.

I’ve always been fascinated with writing, asking my parents what every sign we drove past said. I learned to read early, about three years old. Once able to I proudly read every sign out loud to anybody that would listen, or not in most cases. One of the fondest memories of my childhood were weekly trips to the library with my mother. I’d go through books, reading the first page to decide on my book for the week. One of my favorite show’s as a kid was Reading Rainbow. I loved books, reading and writing. Once in school, I loved English class and it just encouraged my voracious reading appetite as I grew.

I can’t really say that I’ve always wanted to be a writer, because even as a child it was more of a daydream. I don’t remember ever thinking of it as a real possibility. I didn’t put much thought into what would be required to achieve the status of published writer. I didn’t even realize how many different ways you could make a living writing. The idea of being a famous writer was simply a fantasy. The kind of thing little kids think up and you continue to fantasize about as you get older. It felt similar to the dream of being a famous singer. Something to this day I still dream about as an alternative life that might be cool, though I doubt I’ll be starting a singing career anytime soon. I discovered in middle school I have terrible stage fright and am not that good of a singer.

But writing was something I could do and it didn’t matter if I was good. I still have stories I wrote in elementary school and notebooks of horrid heart wrenching poetry. I wasn’t very sure about letting others read the things I wrote. I wrote mainly because I enjoyed it. It felt therapeutic, a way to get out all the emotions from childish drama. It was something I thought of as a hobby, to pursue while I worked away at a job I tolerated. Even in adolescence, I was much too practical to think that I could make a living off writing. I got over the fear of showing my work to others, and submitted work for publication. I thought it was always worth a shot and might be cool if I did get some work published. But it still never really occurred to me to make it a career.

I never really pursued it out of fear. There was the fear of rejection and failure. I was also afraid to venture into the world of publishing, it seemed so foreign and unknown to me. I had no idea where to start even if I wanted to pursue it. My biggest fear however was of losing my love for writing. I thought that if I turned the thing I loved so much into my job, I might not love it so much anymore. I liked writing because it was for me. I didn’t have to do it. There were no deadlines, no directives, no guidelines, and it wasn’t an obligation. My biggest fear was that once it became an obligation, something I had to do to survive, I would ruin the one thing that I loved doing.

Until a couple of years ago, I still never thought of pursuing writing as a full-time career. Even now I question myself and am unsure of my future plans. I’ve overcome most of my fears, but I still worry about losing my passion for writing. I have multiple back up plans and am not ready to fully commit to writing full-time. I have realized though that if I don’t at least try I’ll never know.

 

I’m Too Comfortable at my job

Standard

I want to start off by recognizing that I am lucky to have a job, and one that I don’t hate at that. I’ve had jobs that I’ve hated in the past, where I woke up and dreaded the thought of spending the day at work. Jobs where every night I had to make a pit stop for a drink or two to unwind. I’ve had jobs where the very thought of it made me sick. Of course it didn’t start out that way. Most of my jobs I had for several years. I stayed because although I had minor gripes I was generally happy. I am a quick learner and usually progressed very quickly. Eventually, that progressed stopped and everyday started feeling exactly the same. Out of frustration, I became discouraged and thought any effort I put into work wasn’t appreciated. I also didn’t really have a passion for the work that I was doing.

This was part of my motivation for going back to school. I always planned on writing but fell back on my¬†early administrative and accounting experience to pay the bills. Eventually, I began taking steps to transition careers and thought a degree would help. While in school I ended up working in the business office of the college. While I was in school it worked out great and it was only supposed to be temporary. After graduation, my main goal was to find a full-time job and pay off the debt I had built up during the years of school. So last year when a coworker decided to retire and I was offered her position, I figured I should take it. I hadn’t had much luck finding anything else since graduation.

My goal was to pay off my bills as fast as possible¬†so I wouldn’t have to worry as much about money. This way I would be open to taking a position based more on the fit instead of the salary. However, I have noticed a huge amount of slacking off on my job search. Not only do I not have the energy or time to commit myself to job hunting, I’ve noticed myself being picky about the jobs I apply for. I rationalize it by thinking why should I leave somewhere I’m generally happy at for anything less than the perfect job. So instead I’ve been sticking it out while not taking any risk to find something better. I’m think I’m holding on to this job because I’m just too comfortable. After almost four years, I’ve proven my hard work ethics and have developed a friendly relationship with coworkers and bosses. However, I have bad days where I feel over worked, stressed or even bored. I have started seeing the warning signs that I missed in the past that got me to the point where I didn’t care anymore. I also realize the longer I stay the harder it will be to leave. At some point, I may begin to hate it, maybe out of boredom or simply because I’ll get stuck and not fulfill my plans.

I’m feel stuck the only way to move forward is to leave my comfortable job. Somehow I have to create that sense of urgency I’ve had in the past when job hunting. At times I found a job within weeks of starting my search. If I really want to move on with my new career I have to take a risk and quit whether I have a new job or not. The only question now is how and when?