The Pursuit of the Dream Job

This is what I'm learning today - sometimes, it is absolutely terrifying to go after what you really, honestly and truly, wholeheartedly want.

The idea of dream chasers is exciting and romantic but no one ever said that it was easy or a "safe" thing to do.

Although perhaps I'm chasing things in a slightly less than conventional approach.

If you've been following along over the last little while, then you'll know that I am on an extended and involuntary 'vacation' from the daily 9am-5pm grind. And if you've been paying attention to my Facebook and Instagram, you'll have seen the emergence of the #iwannabeawriterwhenigrowup hashtag. I don't know if anyone else is using it, but I'm gonna call it my own. I have called dibs on that hashtag, Internet! But, I'm not that greedy, so I'll share it with you okay? Okay.

Before I go any further, I have this piece of advice to offer. When you know someone - perhaps they're a friend, a former co-worker or family member, dolphin trainer, circus performer, ant farmer ... whatever, you get the point - and they've suddenly found themselves in a position similar to mine can you please stop asking us what we're doing with our time?!

"So, are you looking for work?" is a question I have come to get really aggravated with lately.

Now, I cannot speak for anybody else, so therefore this is all based on my own meandering experience over the last month or so. Suddenly finding myself out of work isn't exactly one of the proudest moments of my life. In fact, there have been days where I felt like an absolute disappointment and abject failure.

I felt like I let my former employer down. I've felt like I wasn't good enough, that I failed to live up to some degree of potential that they saw that I just couldn't get to. I felt like I let my family down - that I was a disappointment to them somehow; that this bright, energetic, talkative, outgoing woman that gets sidetracked a million times in trying to tell a story had somehow become a total slacker and lost her job. So, not only was I feeling all of this at the same time, there also a small degree of shame to go along with it.

Granted, I might be the only one who's dishing out the shame but it's still there. It's not like anybody really celebrates loosing their job - at least not in any long-term capacity anyway. True, there are a few days where you revel in the knowledge that you don't have to show up for this conference call, or generate that report, or go to this particular place and talk to that person, or that you don't have to battle rush hour traffic in a city of a million people at 7am anymore. So, you take a few days and indulge in some self care. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. At all. I wish more people indulged in self care.

Then, about a week or so later the inevitable questions of how the job hunt is coming, what kind of work do you want to do, are you still relaxing (heard as 'stop being lazy and get your shit together'), do you know what you want to do, start rolling in.

And, personally speaking, it's a real pain in the ass. It's frustrating. I know the majority of people who ask are only doing so out of genuine concern - and while that is greatly appreciated - telling you what the life plan is can be difficult since I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

All I can really say is that I want to write. This blog has become a place for me to clear my head space and keep me engaged in the writing process. In the meantime I'm spending way too much time at the local Starbucks, torn between the desire to "get a real job" and engage in the kind of writing that can sometimes see words pour out of me for hours at a time, and trying not to feel guilty when I do one thing and not the other.

Am I engaged in the job hunt process? Yes. But here's how I feel about it. Not one of them fills me with the burning desire to be a part of this organization, or be a part of that team, or stand behind that product, or help build that relationship. I look at them and see them as a means to end - a way to pay the bills when the savings run out and the well is starting to run dry.

But surely God we were put on earth to do more than just go to a place and work all day just so we can pay bills. Surely there's more to it all then that, right? Without getting too existential here, there has to be. Life as an adult - a truly happy adult - should be about more than having a job you harbor no enthusiasm for at all just so you don't end up being the next incarnation of Chris Farley livin' in a van down by the river.

The question I'm faced with then is this - what makes me happy? Honestly and truly happy?

That answer I've known since I was a kid.


Now, here's the problem I'm currently trying to navigate. My entire adult career has been spent in some sort of customer service position that in no way enabled the further development of writing. There's an entire industry out there full of writers and authors and bloggers and comic book writers - all of these people who are engaged in my dream job. So how do I navigate crossing the bridge from Dream Job to Job?

So far it's included researching editors, asking questions, developing relationships with at least one other author - she's amazing and if you haven't read her novel RADIOHEAD then simply follow this link to her page and scoop yourself up a copy, then thank me later - endless Google searches for publications that pay contributors, a bedside table full of books to read, at least two notebooks handy at all times - one for self indulgent poetry, the other for stories and ideas, jot notes of dreams that could be turned into something else. And underneath all of that there is a nagging sensation of trepidation. Insecurity. Fear.

There are days that, even to me (which is sayin' something), this seems like the biggest of all the hair-brained schemes and half-assed plans I have ever embarked on. I've always leapt and then looked. Someone very important to me likes to tell me all the time not to rush in to anything. Her other sage piece of advice has been "Don't screw it up." At the time that particular piece of advice was being dispensed she was referring to my relationship at the time, but I feel like it can be applied here too.

Don't screw it up. Don't rush into anything. Look and then leap.

Have I mentioned before that I am the worst for following advice? I will always listen to advice, take it under advisement and then (usually) do whatever I want. A friend of mine is always surprised when I say to him things that he's said to me. I may not look like I'm listening all the time, but I am.

But even now I'm not entirely convinced that I can do this. That it's a fairy tale. So then I look for a "real job" and a little part of me dies on the inside - like I can already feel some part of my soul being sucked dry by the big corporations, being stuck in a cubicle, and doing the same repetitive tasks over and over again with everyday being the same. That sounds awful.

So then I turn back to writing and try to figure out how to make it work.

It's terrifying. It's stressful. But that feeling you get inside, knowing that you're trying to fulfill your purpose sort of solidifies something inside of you. It's a lot of risk and no guarantee of reward. You put a lot of pressure on yourself, knowing that you don't want to fail - but to keep yourself grounded and focused you have to be real and know that it's a possibility. You need to search for different ways to get to where you want to go. You're essentially turning your back on the conventional notion of what work is, and what it means to have a job.

Writing is work. Staying focused is work. Staying inspired is work. But because it doesn't happen in the conventional workspace, the value of what it is you're trying to do is diminished.

There's a part of me that thinks that during this hiatus from having a "real" job, that I'm seen as lazy, that I don't want to work. And no doubt there are probably people who think that, and that's a real hard pill to swallow. I operate right now on my own schedule, do things in my own time, and decide where I get to spend my time, who I wanna spend it, and how much of it do I wanna give to people. But that isn't to say that I'm home everyday slumming it in sweats and eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch while binge-watching Netflix and deciding whether or not a shower is necessary.

Now after that diatribe, here's something you can do for me that is infinitely better than asking me about whether or not I have a job.

Share things with me. Did you read something that made you laugh? Was there an article you came across that you found interesting? Is there a TV show that caught your eye that you think I might like? Did you have an insane dream that kind of stuck with you all day? Was there an interaction in your day-to-day that made you stop and think for a minute? Did you eat the best meal of your life? Is there a shared memory of you and I that's your favorite?

Share these things with me. Eat and drink and laugh with me. Share bits of yourself with me, and I'll share bits of me with you.

Inspiration lies in any number of places and you'll never know which experience holds the key to opening something beyond incredible.


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