I’m exhausted from thinking about the ideas in my head that didn’t sprout. I think about my lost chance as an independent folk artist. I actually think about that from time to time (!). I think about opening a music school or a private yoga business. As I write this I am thinking about posting ads on Kijiji and Craigslist to do both, right now. Both. I think about what it means to climb the corporate ladder – to become that which I already am. I’m not sure I’m happy with any of these paths. But what then?
A friend of mine complained about her job to her fiance. He said:
How do you know you will ever be happy at a job? When I first met you, you didn’t like your job. Now you have a new job and you don’t like your job.
Here’s something I’ve learned about jobs: When you have a job that demands your life from you, it’s like a parasite. It sucks all the nutrients you can get into your system back out of you. You need to take extra vitamins in order to replenish yourself – get massages and take cab rides places and buy nice clothes. Or get high on the weekends or have affairs, whatever you need. I spent way more money while I was working around the clock than I do now that I’m more balanced. When you always work late, you don’t know what to do if you get off at 6:30 or 7pm. It’s hard to read for pleasure because you’re mentally exhausted.
Meanwhile, when you have a job with a finite beginning and end, it can feel like a nuisance. On evenings and weekends you don’t check your phone constantly for emails. You can exercise during normal waking hours and shower after and even watch TV. You can make plans with friends and not act like you have a perma-excuse to be late or constantly checking on email because of your important job. But some days you feel like it’s silly to put on a pencil skirt and sit at a desk. There is no adrenaline, no life and death urgency which – albeit smoke in mirrors – is at least exciting. And you wish there was something big enough for you to wrap your arms around and really tackle. You feel under utilized by day. But you’re making crocheted blankets for your loved ones by night. So what is wrong with these two extremes?
Well, for one thing, they are extremes. Some people are destined to live in the peaks and valleys of life. Your suffering may be neither unique or necessary. Those are sentences from the Secret Language of Birthdays for my birthday. For whatever reason, they stuck with me. The birthday book is a gift. Recently friends of mine had a baby born May 16, the Day of Outrageous Flair. Another friend will forever be the Day of Dancers and Dreamers, at least to me.
Isn’t it comforting to look at a book and be told what you are and what you are destined to be? That way you don’t have to look for yourself. Face it: we are all incompetent when it comes to seeing who we really are. And these days there aren’t too many people preaching about destiny. It’s all about options.
It’s nice when your job tells you who you are. Are you a workaholic, careening through career goals, working 70 hour weeks, being asked to speak at conferences and on and on? There’s a persona around that, including a decent IQ and salary and probably not much else. Are you a corporate drone, putting in your time, with varying degrees of wakefulness, perhaps even engaged with your colleagues and projects, but perhaps not? There’s a persona around that too, quite possible including strong relationships outside of work and a persistent, dull ache for Fridays. It sounds too simple, but I can put almost everyone I know into one of those camps.
And every last one of us is looking for a light to show us the way – to help us prioritize in a world where there are no clear answers, other than for those blessed or cursed with a singular mindedness. Which person do you want to be? What matters most?
And if I don’t know by now, when will I?
Listening to this might help.