Looking Ahead

I did nothing yesterday. Not a damn thing. It was nice. Well, I didn’t do anything I was supposed to, anyway. Just exhausted at work. Being beaten up day after day, constantly told how you’re failing, seeing those around you getting the same thing, it takes the fight out of you. No fight, no energy. So then, what am I going to do about it? Am I going to find out my passion and do that for a living? Do what I love? That’s the most ridiculous advice.

Spring Grove with Hennigan_0027b
Spring Grove again. Love the light through the ornamental grasses.

There are literally millions of artists and musicians and actors who aren’t doing their passion, because they’ve grown fond of living indoors and eating at least once a week. It’s not just the artistic fields, though, these people are all over the place. They wind up in cube farms and factories, churning out something completely different from what they wanted to be doing, constantly reminded by self-help gurus that they can change their lives forever, just do what they love. Getting to do what you love most and getting paid for it, much less enough to live on, is a dream that so few ever achieve, and telling everyone that they can is a great way to convince people they have failed at life.

A much more effective suggestion is find the passion in your job. What is it about your employment that makes you happy or proud? Is it being the best at what you’re doing? How do you define best? Fastest? Most accurate? A collection of awards on your desk? If you can’t do the job you love, honey, love the job you’re in.* And if you can earn money doing your passion, then do it! I can’t live on it, but I have made a dollar here and there with my camera. Seems to be when I’m most at peace.

There may come a time when you can’t find the motivation for your job, the reason to get up in the morning. That’s when you reassess. Are you just going through a rough time? Can you still find that thing that makes you feel you’ve made a difference in what you do? If not, then what? Is there something you enjoy that you can do for fun, break up the tedium? Or is it time to move on, find something else? That takes some planning, too. Taking a job just to get out of your current one isn’t wise; it just becomes the same situation in a different location. That’s why the planning. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? If you like the industry and just don’t care for your job, then what other opportunities are available to you in that industry? What would it take?

Even that isn’t an option for everyone. There are any number of limiting factors, like your education, your current income, your location, the time you have available, the number of people who depend on you, plans you have for your future, people you need to know but don’t, and things you can’t change like gender, skin color, height, age.

I’m considering going back to school. Again. And I’m afraid. I wasn’t the best student, for a variety of reasons. I never really learned how to study. I didn’t have to until college, and that was an uncomfortable realization. I was already dealing with the culture shock, going into an environment I’d only ever seen on television, being around people whose parents lived where they did to get away from neighborhoods like the one I grew up in, and having the freedom to come and go as I pleased for the first time in my life. Much of that was just giving it time. The studying, though, became an issue. My first-year roommate was shocked when she heard how I was doing. She knew I studied, and quite often knew what I was studying when she came into our room. I yelled at myself in French quite often, apparently, for instance. I did graduate, though, after figuring out what would get me through school. I didn’t go into that job, though, I didn’t become a music teacher.

Ault Fall_0045a
Breaking up the text with a photo playing with the sun. This is a great way to damage your camera’s sensors.

A few months after I’d gotten laid off from my last job, when they closed our location, I decided to go back to school, do something that would get me out of an industry that was so unstable, and make me marketable. I went for an MS in Accounting. I didn’t graduate for several reasons, not just the “didn’t want to be an accountant” one. There was money – I tried to find a part-time job, but I couldn’t. I was taking four classes a week, and the full-time jobs I could find were major energy-drainers for me. There was my state of mind – I was heading for a major depressive episode and I didn’t have the tools to avoid it. And there was the fear of future failure. What if I graduated, took that internship, got hired, and found myself working as a tax accountant for a major company? I could make decent money, sure, but would I be able to be happy? Would I be able to move forward, to go the direction I wanted to go? Would I be any good in a real-life situation, or would I be mediocre at best? I didn’t know, so I didn’t try. That fear was also a part of why I didn’t teach.

There are things I want to do in my life, things I want to have. I want the money to have a decent home and a decent car, to have some say in where I live. I want to be able to travel. I want to have energy when I get home from work. I want to wake up most mornings ready to take on the day, instead of dreading it. I want to be challenged, with the right challenges for me, things I love to do that I might not be perfect at, but can learn and grow. I want to get over this ridiculous fear of incompetence.

There’s an informational session next month at my alma mater for their MBA program, and I’ve made my reservation. I guess the question I really need to answer is what have I got to lose?

_________________________

*Yeah, I know, but c’mon, it fits. Here’s a Luther Vandross cover of that song. I love me some Luther, but I actually like the CSN version better.†

The Isley Brothers covered this too, and it works.

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