I promise this is the last in an unplanned, overly contemplative series (that began with, “My Mane Issue,” followed by, “A Weighty Issue“). Next week: Puppies and Pop-Tarts!
“Are you looking for jobs?”
“Hey, I know someone who’s hiring.”
“You could always do consulting.”
“Have you heard about Fiverr?”
Over the past two years, since quitting my corporate job, well-intentioned and wonderful people have asked all of the questions and suggested all of the resources you might expect if you were out of work.
I don’t mind one bit. In fact, quite the opposite. Having friends and family who care enough to take an interest in my life, and want to help me in any way, fills me with humility and joy.
What’s interesting to me, though, are the underlying, often subconscious beliefs we all seem to hold about working and jobs in general. They run the gamut from, “work to live” to “find your passion and turn it into a living” to “you must work until you’re 65 and then you can relax and enjoy life.”
After quitting my New Jersey-based corporate job two years ago, I hiked, explored, and saw friends every day. Oh, and moved across the country.
HANG ON. YOU’RE NOT 65. BACK TO WORK!
As the months ticked by and I failed to sign a contract committing myself to another Inc. or S-Corp, I could almost hear the wheels in people’s minds turning. What is she going to do? How much money did she save? Wow, that would make me so nervous…
Every time I felt like my inner balance was restored, my tank overflowing, I’d pull up a job search engine on my laptop. Project manager… Editor… Event planner… Work from home…
I was 37 years old. Eventually my hard-earned savings would run out. “It’s time to get serious,” I’d think. In fact, I even took a low-paying job at a nonprofit for a few weeks before pulling the plug. Just dipping a toe back into the 9-to-5 world made me feel suicidal (…I wish I was exaggerating about that).
One of my life’s central themes was playing out in a big way: Do What Everyone Else is Doing and Endlessly Spiral vs. F@$% THAT NOISE, GURRRRRRL!!!!!!!! THAT SHIZ IS CRAYYYYYY. PEACE. OUT.
Half the time, I was convinced I was stuck in an adolescent stage of development. Dramatic. Self-absorbed. Impulsive. Rebellious. Why was working for someone else SO hard? “Something’s wrong with me!” The other half of the time, I was sure I was a brave crusader. A fearless path forger. “You don’t fit into that box ’cause that box is bullshirt, friend!”
I was yet again doing the Comfort Zone Dance; the one with all the fancy footwork so you forget that nothing incredible ever actually happens there.
And as we all know, bouncing between shoulds and coulds is exhausting.
When I was just two years old, I would regularly go full-on Beyoncé, changing my clothes 4-6+ times a day. “You’d pull every outfit from the bottom drawer of your dresser,” my mom, Babs, often recounted. “It was impossible to stop you.”
A few years later, in first grade, I heard another student talk about his mom laying out his clothes for him.
WHAT?! I thought. You let someone else pick out your clothes?!
I stood on the blacktop while we waited for the bell to ring, utterly horrified. It never even occurred to me that other kids wouldn’t choose their own outfits, too. That was also the year I learned about ocean conversation and started paying attention to what I threw in the garbage. The following year, when kids ganged up on one poor soul for being “different,” I stepped in and shouted, “How would YOU like it?”
Man. I’m telling you. Seven-year-old Jules was a rockstar. And maybe a little bit of a brat.
By the time I was 17, I had gotten my GED, worked full-time, and had started taking college classes, not really sure I wanted to pursue a full degree. When I committed to a Bachelor’s in creative writing, I found a school that let me (mostly) design my own curriculum and worked my butt off.
It’s taken until just this past year to recognize -let alone embrace- that all of those breadcrumbs trickle down the same path. The path the says: You’re hardwired to go your own way. You should have never […gotten married or…] worked for anyone else.
I can’t tether myself to anyone else’s vision, expectations, or rules and expect to thrive.
It isn’t laziness. Now that I work for myself, I work harder than ever. It isn’t over-confidence. I swirl in a familiar cloud of self-doubt roughly 17,633 times a day. And it isn’t selfish. All I want to do in this life is protect other life.
And it’s okay if my rollercoaster existence makes people nervous. Uncomfortable. Confused. Threatened. Worried.
In fact, don’t tell anyone, but I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m here.
How have you found your way in the world? (Yes. We ask simple questions here at Go Jules Go.)
18 thoughts on “A Working Issue”
Puppies and pop tarts? I’ll be coming back!
So proud of you for going your own way with gusto! 💜 sbm
Imagine if I’d stayed in NJ and we never got to meet and go do…well, ALL THE THINGS!!!!
I’m with you here. I live by my own rules at this point in my life. I used to do what I was supposed to do all the time and I was miserable & mean-spirited because of it. Like you I find that my free-spirited ways confuse people but that’s okay. Why they stay stuck in their unhappiness is beyond me. What they think of me is none of my business.
Oh, YES! “What they think of me is none of my business” is in my Top 3 mantras! I usually think of it as, “Your opinion of me has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you” and it helps me on the daily!
I say you’re way ahead of the game. It takes most people a lifetime to embrace their true self. You do you girl!
I’ve decided to stay partially unenlightened/non-fully actualized so that I still have things to blog about. Smart, no?
YES to carving your own path. The occasional heartburn and stress aren’t for everyone, but it sure can be awesome if it works out!
You have helped carry the shovels needed to carve my authentic path and for that I say, “Pass the Pepto!” Also, seriously, though – thank you!
You asked, “how have you found your way in the world?” When I was in high school I felt a powerful call into Youth Ministry. So I set a course to reach that goal. I took my General Education classes at the local community college, part-time, and then I transferred to a university to get my BA in Religion with a Concentration in Youth Ministry. I was on a Mission From God. All through university whenever I told people my major they all said “youth pastors don’t make any money.” I thought they meant I wouldn’t get rich. What they meant was most churches don’t HIRE youth pastors, they are volunteers. So I ended up having to rethink my whole life.To make a long story longer, I am now living on disability and buying groceries with a government-issued debit card. In a few weeks I’ll be 52 years old, and I haven’t found my way in the world yet.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m wondering if this means you still followed your original path despite naysayers, in which case, congratulations (and happy early birthday)! I sometimes think if we found all of the answers all at once, or too soon, we’ve missed something important about living these lives, on this earth, at this moment in time. But gosh, it can get exhausting, can’t it? I’m sending you a virtual hug and feel certain you’re closer to your path than you can even imagine.
Thank you for the “virtual hug.” 🙂 Sadly, I had to abandon my dream of Youth Ministry after realizing it’s more of a hobby than a career.
A few years ago I had to collect disability because I started having memory issues. Managers were not very understanding when I completely forgot I was scheduled to work on a particular day.:-( So now I spend my time at home online. I have very little responsibility these days, but it’s hard to feel like a grown-up when I don’t earn my living.
I wish I’d had a friend like you when I was seven – I was wallflower shy back then. I love that you’ve taken charge of your life and are doing your thing. Bravo. As for your question about finding my way in the world, just about when I thought I’d figured it all out and had my ducks in a row, Kundalini awakening laughed in my face. I have an idea of what I’d like to do as my teenage son transitions from high school to whatever’s next, but my body needs some TLC right now.
You inspire me! Especially in terms of allowing and working through where we are in present moment, and listening to our bodies. It’s so easy to let all of the voices play out that say wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing right now, isn’t “enough.”
And “those voices” tie into what I’m so eager to get into. Hypnotherapy. Having worked with several different hypnotherapists and getting to know the power of different ways of working, I know that once I get trained I could take a person into hypnosis and help them safely and easily meet where those voices come from and silence them.
You. Are. Amazing. Like Susan said above, I wish I had known you when I was little, you could have stepped in when I was punched on the playground for wearing glasses!
I’m currently struggling with what I want to be when I grow up. I need a meaningful job, not just one that pays the bills until I retire and/or die. Something that makes lasting change!
But in the end, (cue the Enya music) the only reason we’re here is to love and be kind to each other. Jobs and money aren’t the end all be all of existence. It’s good to have to survive, yes, but not our main goal in life. You can’t take it with you. As John Lennon said, “Oh boy when you’re dead, you don’t take nothing with you but your soul. Think!” You keep on doing what makes you happy and what excites you!! Follow the journey and don’t give two seconds to what others may think!
YOU ARE! I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately (“you can’t take it with you”), doing another physical purge of stuff from my apartment. Moving so many times in the past seven years, and downsizing to a tiny apartment, has been such a cleansing experience in its own right. Being attached to ‘things’ is EXHAUSTING. Now if only I could transfer that freeing knowledge to people/places/feelings/thoughts/beliefs… LOL
I suppose I am lucky that I’m perfectly content with staring at spreadsheets on a computer all day and never having to talk to anyone.:)
Ha! Assuming that that is true, I have to admit I’m a little envious. Also, what are you doing later? I’m having a little trouble with the Excel sheet I use to rank my blog posts.