And Then My Life Took a Turn for the Better

Taking time to appreciate the simple things in life. These are frog eggs.

Taking time to appreciate the simple things in life. These are frog eggs.

I am writing this entry in response to WordPress’s “365 days of writing” challenge. I just ran aross it today, and thought I’d join in. I don’t blog every day, but I appreciate the opportunity for a prompt. Perhaps this will encourage me to be more prolific with my writing. Today’s prompt was about when your life has made a 180 degree turn, or when you have learned a life lesson that changed your way of thinking.

This is about my career. My former career. I had a spectacular job. I made decisions, negotiated with the big dogs, and this all made me float on clouds. I would get calls on my off-days, have to take calls from the beach or the lake, and always be available to make sure that stuff happened. It made me feel needed and important.

And then I spent a couple of periods of time unemployed. My program left the university, and I was displaced. I was able to spend two entire summers with my child when he was out of school, and I didn’t have to scurry out of bed in the mornings, afraid of being late. From the time that I was pregnant with my child, I have never imagined not working. Our child would go to daycare, and we would continue working, and that was that. Many people do this everyday, and we were used to it.  No reason for second thought.

But then during my second period of unemployment, I decided to carve out another career path. I  have a master’s degree in health administration, but when I started on this other  path,  writing commercially, I wasn’t wildly successful. As in any career, one needs experience to command the big bucks. I was not making big bucks.

I have now returned to a regular job at my former employer, but my motivation has changed. Over the past couple of years, my work has become something that is necessary for me to pay my bills. I realized that I might rather be able to pick up my child from school, or show up during the day to help out the PTA. I don’t want to leave at 7am and get home at 7pm for the glory of those for whom I am working. It was fun while it lasted, but now I know better, and better means busting my hump for myself.

I no longer want to be the one who is in charge, getting calls on my days off, or when I’m on vacation. I no longer want to work remotely when I have the flu. I no longer want to take a call from HR when I’m at the lake, because we are hiring someone whose qualifications they question. I also don’t want to be the one whose feet are held to the fire for anything that happens in my area. As I said, I didn’t mind it, and it made me feel important, but now I am through being this person.

I learned that the people from whom I need the most love, admiration, and validation, are my family, and then my friends.  My family needs me. My employer also needs me, but in a very different sense. I can  make myself indispensable, nice to be around, an enthusiastic worker, and many other things, but my role can be filled by someone else with the same skills I have. My family would have a harder time replacing me. They’re the ones who really know me. They know my flaws, my vices, my soft spots, and my weaknesses. They may not know how quickly I can turn around a document, or how “up for any challenge” I am at work, but really, they don’t need to. My work is simply what I do; it is no longer who I am. It is a means to an end for me, just as I am a means to an end for my employer.

I am, for now, enjoying my eight-to-five job (that really is eight-to-five), and spending all my other time not worrying about my job. I am free to relax, clean the house, work in the yard, write blogs that no one may ever read, and ponder the true meaning of life. I am making less money than before, but I am able to make up some of the difference by doing something that I truly enjoy, which is writing articles that have my name on them. It is my work, attributed to me, not just some nameless document with blanks filled in anonymously. It feels good to have my own pursuits, and to carve my own way instead of following along and climbing my way to the top a few rungs at a time, sometimes getting pushed back down.