Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thinking Out Loud

OK, wrong gender in the pic, but you get the idea. I'm in thought these days, probably because I have little else that I can effectively do until this walking cast comes off. PLEASE let that be tomorrow when I see the Ortho doc again!

What am I thinking about, you ask? (You DID ask, didn't you?) Everything. Everything, all swirled up and conglomerated into a blur of questions and ideas. One of my biggest, lifelong questions revolves around a working life. I have never been able to identify any one, or even any 10 things I'd like to do for a living. I don't understand how colleges and universities, let alone parents and students, expect a person (young or older) to choose just one area in which to specialize. I started college at age 16 through a dual enrollment/advance placement program with my high school and the local community college. I thought I had to choose a major, so I chose "Business Administration". I had absolutely no information about what "Business Administration" involved -- I just thought it was the most logical choice to utilize the skills I thought I possessed at the time -- great math abilities, decent writing abilities, communication abilities, etc.

But the reality is that I had no clue what kinds of jobs even existed, much less what it took to do them. Mostly, I guess, this is because no one bothered to counsel me in any way when it came to schooling, other than these two examples: 1) the Dean of my high school, who knew my father who had just passed away from cancer, tried to talk me out of dual enrollment, because he thought it was too much for a kid to handle, and 2) my journalism instructor quit speaking to me when I had to resign as Copy Editor of the newspaper because I had to get a job that took me out of school most of the day (a work/study program) and made it impossible to take the required class to continue that position. Now, my grades were good (obviously), I had more than enough credits to graduate from high school, and I figured that, the sooner I got a "real job" and completed college, the better off I and my family would be. So, I bumbled through choosing my classes, and, even though my grades were good and all that, I couldn't make myself finish. It was soooooooooo boring, and there didn't seem to be any alternative, because I just simply didn't know any better.

Fast-forward to the present: I am currently unemployed, partly by choice, but also partly because I have no idea what to do with myself, I have not completed a formal education, and, frankly, I'm petrified of returning to work. Why am I petrified? Because I don't think I can handle the pressure. I have tried to have a positive attitude, to take into account that I would not be the only breadwinner, that I would probably enjoy getting out on a more scheduled, regular basis, that I'd enjoy (and my hubby would be very relieved, to say the least) having more income, etc. etc. etc. But none of those thoughts allay my fears.

I'm sure we've all been in those jobs where we did a lion's share of work for little credit, and were expected to perform absolute miracles with very little assistance. I feel sure we've all been in places where people took advantage of our good will and work ethics, and didn't give us the opportunities for advancement or recognition we know we deserved. I do realize these are common and virtually universal aspects of working, and I know that I deserve no special treatment on this, or any other, front. But in my mind, returning to work means being at the mercy of someone else and surrendering my peace of mind. I feel the drone-buzz even thinking about it -- like the blood is being sucked out of my body and replaced with cotton or something equally light and unsubstantial.

Am I just selfish? Am I just lazy? Am I just stupid? Am I unrealistic? Am I 'damaged goods'? This is what I wonder.

How did you know when you found your calling in life? Or did you ever find one? Did you choose the wrong one? I'd love to hear some discussion around these topics.

Peace, y'all.


RunAwayImagination said...

I never did find my "calling," although I managed to survive 29 years in the phone business and another 6.5 years so far in state government.

I chose Psychology as my college major but never worked in the field.

In 1969 when I got an "early out" from the Navy, I cranked out resumes by the dozens, picked the first good job offer and just stuck with it.

After a couple years as Assistant Manager in the Business Office, I found myself a tiny niche in the phone business (forecasting) that few other people were doing. Of course the downside of my niche career is that there were almost no opportunities for advancement. I spent 18 of my 29 years in Forecasting before leaving for another department where I created a job for myself coordinating the R&D budget. None of this had anything to do with my choice of major, and I doubt that any college major would have prepared me any better than the one I chose.

I've always envied those who knew their profession/passion from an early age.

My passion is playing music, but I've learned that I can't make a living at it - at least not the kind of living that could maintain my standard of living.

Genevieve said...

I have not yet found my calling, and while I've been looking for a job off and on for several months, I haven't yet found one of those either.

Susan E. Falk said...

My calling was theatre, gave that up to have Stephanie (eep 16 years ago). I haven't really found anything else that calls to me like theatre. My writing I guess, but I'm not making money off that at the moment.

I guess the biggest things for me have been:
1) at least be happy where I'm at
2) do the best I can at whatever I'm doing

It hasn't failed me yet. Could I have done more than "just be a secretary" as my brother likes to say over the years? Of course I could have, but I chose to put my daughter first. And I've done the best I could at what job I had. That's all I could do, and I went to sleep each night content with that knowledge.

It's not easy. I'm tackling a similar issue. I enjoy working from home, but I don't meet anybody. I don't know anybody. The only friends I have are through my old job with the bus company - and I don't see them anymore.

So, what do I want to do? I just don't know!

I know you'll do well, Suzanne, in whatever you do. You are an amazing woman, someone I'm proud to call my friend, and I have every confidence that if you start looking you will find something that appeals to you.