This is not an uplifting post. If you’re looking for a smile, go no further.
This post is for me. For my personal catharsis.
As I write this, I am sitting at my desk. My boss isn’t in and I have little to do.
What little I have does not interest me. It once did but now it does not.
I consider myself to be a Type A personality. So, for me, working in an environment where there is no
overflow of work, no limitless goals to be set, no awards to receive, praise to earn, or endless any promotions available…is simply soul crushing.
I have spent at least thirty minutes over the past two days dedicated to finding a phrase that more sweetly describes my predicament. I cannot.
You see, when you are Type A, and you can’t advance, can’t get ahead and also can’t move on to something else, you start to scramble. You search aimlessly for new interests and the development of new life goals and plans. But when there is something that you have dedicated your entire adult life to, and can’t seem to scale the brick wall in front of you and actually achieve something – actually do something, anything – it is just so damn hard.
I frustrate myself when I am forced to scramble.
Four years ago, when my husband (then boyfriend) accepted a job out of state – an opportunity we thought would be phenomenal for both of us from financial and professional perspectives (which worked out remarkably for El Profesor, and not so for me) – I began a futile search for an attorney position. I moved with him anyway, and telecommuted from my current job as we lived together, planned our wedding and began our life together.
When it became clear that an amazing professional opportunity wasn’t going to materialize, I still continued to pursue it (albeit with severely lowered standards). Like most Type A’s, I also don’t know how to take ‘no’ for an answer. In the meantime, I struggled to devise alternate plans for myself.
First, I thought, I would make an excellent nutritionist. Nutrition is something that I am passionate about on a personal level, and I always got A’s in Kinesiology in college. That would be a fantastic career for me. And so I did all of the requisite research. I looked in to undergraduate and graduate programs and even spoke to a friend of a friend who is a rather successful nutritionist. What I found is that to become a Registered Dietician I would have to return to school for about six years (2 years part-time and 4 full-time) before hopefully getting a job that pays less than I currently make. Also, I’d have to take out more student loans in the process.
So I nixed that dream.
Second, I thought, well if the RD process would take too long, then maybe I should go in to public health. That is also of great interest to me, and I am particularly interested in pre- and post-natal nutrition. Having a focus showed me how deeply interested I already was in that type of work; and being a lawyer would actually be useful in program management and similar positions. It seemed like an ideal fit. But again, I would need to go back to school. I spoke to a friend’s mom, who is a senior professor at one of the best MPH programs in the country and we determined that I didn’t have the right experience. I would have to work in public health for at least two years before I could even be accepted to such a program; and without a degree or prior internships in the area, it would have been next to impossible for me to find a paid position that was in line with my interests. But, of course, I searched high and low anyway.
After two years of living outside of my home town, and supporting El Profesor as he pursued his dream, he agreed to support me as I returned to New York to get ahead as a NYC lawyer: my dream. It has been almost two years since then. We’ve both been shuffling our lives between two places. And despite how many CLEs I have attended, events I have programmed, cocktail hours I have networked at and resumes I have sent out, I’m still sitting here. At the same desk. After all this time.
I worry that I’ve let El Profesor down. But mostly, I feel I’ve let myself down.
I love being at home in New York. I revel in every chance I have to spend more time with family and old friends, to be active in bar associations, meet new friends, run in Central Park, go to shows and museums, walk everywhere and live my happy urban existence. Having that is a big part of what keeps me at my job. That, and the fact that I can’t stop trying to get ahead.
But there is nothing about my job that I enjoy. It used to have some redeeming elements, but I can no longer recall what they are.** If I didn’t have crazy student loans that I’ve been so aggressive about paying down over the past eight years, I would have money in the bank. LIKE A NORMAL GROWN UP. And I’d be able to say f* it and walk away from situations in life that make me this unhappy.
2013 will be the last year that I allow myself to languish here, at this desk, in this job. I know, that sounds like a resolution (something I don’t like to make). But life is just too damn short.
I am going to make some pretty huge changes this year.
I have financial commitments and a commitment to El Profesor to keep working hard and earning a living. I still need this job. I need the money.
But I think – as with bad relationships that have come before – that I am about to phase this one out.
It will be a gradual process, but it is clear to me that the two areas of consistent interest in my life have been writing/creativity and fitness/nutrition, and I am working my way toward marrying the two in to a career that can satisfy me for a long time to come.
If you’re reading this, or if you have read any of my other posts at Rachel On and On, you’re along for the journey. I appreciate your support.
**(Edited to add: My job is very stable. I have worked at my firm for more than five-and-a-half years and have reason to believe that this job will continue to be available to me for as long as the firm is in existence. Moreover, the partners have afforded me certain flexibility when my life demanded it. My job makes my life in New York possible. It is easy for me to overlook these significant benefits on challenging days; but also because this job once offered me more. It once offered the opportunity to gain experience in areas of great interest to me, and the perception – at least – that by working there I was advancing in my field.)