A friend of mine had a mini mid-life-job crisis today, and I completely understand. We’re in similar professional situations, though our positions are different. She’s approximately 10 years older than me, so if I am sometimes feeling desperate about my job and unhappy in it and have feet that are itching to walk away, I can only imagine what she is feeling.
She called me this evening, crying, saying that she was so unhappy, she was getting older, and she didn’t know what to do. I told her that in reality, nothing had happened between yesterday and today, and she wasn’t hopeless yesterday, so she would find her way back to “hopeful” soon again. I also reminded her that she has full control over her employment situation. Sure, not many people can afford to walk away from their job (if you still have one, that is), and that’s not what I advocated. I told her that she has many interests and that she should continue to pursue a side business in one of these areas, as she’s talked about for at least 3 years. I also suggested she keep looking for job opportunities in her field both here and abroad. That seemed to console her.
But I completely understand her feelings. I am, some might argue, “over” educated, and, while my job is very stable and I do like most of the people I work with, the exact duties I have now are NOT related to anything I studied (whereas just a few months ago, before a new assignment, they were). I got down, too. And I may have been mopey (heaven knows I have made my share of visits to Mopey Town in the past), but I try to look at my situation compared to others, and remember how blessed I am to have a roof over my head, a job that allows me to pay for that roof, and most of all, my family, friends, and my two beautiful darling fur balls whom I love more than (almost) anything on this earth. And that I can afford to pay for pet insurance. And that I can afford to take myself and them to the doctor if need be. After making a list of my blessings, I can’t help but feel better.
Then I remember that I am in control over my destiny. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. While it is admittedly more difficult in this present economy than it has been in the past, I can work elsewhere. Maybe not in this city, or in this region, or in this state, even, but somewhere out there, there is another opportunity, whose salary and benefits include everything I have now PLUS the lack of a soul-destroying higher-up who, like Godzilla, destroys everything in its path. (And don’t misunderstand me: That’s an insult to Godzilla.) But the point is that my remaining here is ALSO a choice. To stay and complain about it but not try to improve my situation? That’s just foolish. Then I’d have no one to blame but myself.
But as I posted a week or more ago: The search has begun. And because of the type of atmosphere I work in, no one knows. I haven’t told any friends, let alone coworkers. It’s something that I have to keep to myself until I have an offer. Some might consider that mean, or uncharitable, but I consider it smart and being protective of myself. I’m not under 18 anymore; my parents can no longer take care of me. Neither can they be blamed for my not being successful or making or failing to make a particular decision. So since it’s all on me, I’m paying it more than lip service. And while I truly empathize and sympathize with my friend’s unhappiness, I can only listen and give general advice. I’ve tried sending job announcements, ads, etc. I don’t have children and I’m not anyone’s mother, so I do not intend to hold anyone’s hand. Just like I don’t expect anyone to hold mine. I’ve had to find out all of the avenues and information on my own, though I’ve had suggestions from acquaintances who have done the same before me. And I’m lucky to have that information.
The only person I’m responsible for is me. That’s not meant to be mean or bitchy. It’s the truth. I’m single and have no children. Legally, I’m responsible for me.
Of course, I’m legally responsible for my pets, too, and that is a responsibility I take on willingly and gladly.
What have you been through in either your own life or with a friend, regarding making difficult decisions? Was there a particular time you remember realizing that you were responsible for your future?