Back at the end of 2015 I posted about starting a new job in communications at Girl Guides. I don’t think I mentioned this at the time but that was a one year contract which ended in November 2016, and my last day was the day before we left for Florida (we planned our trip so it would work out like that). When I was originally hired there was the possibility of my role being extended but long story short, that role wasn’t a great fit. Also, we got a new CEO, the program that I was hired to work on changed direction, there was some restructuring, and here I am, unemployed (though I like to say FUNemployed). I’m basically in the same place as when I left my previous job in the summer of 2015 because I was unhappy there (more about that here).
I enjoyed my time at Girl Guides but early on I knew the role wasn’t for me. Actually, going into it before I even accepted the offer I knew it wasn’t for me. But I didn’t admit it to myself at the time. If I had a different role there I think it could have been different because it is an amazing organization and I truly believe it is making a difference in the lives of girls and women. I don’t regret working there. Again I made some lifelong (I hope) friends, had some inspiring experiences, I made some money, and the graphic designer was overloaded with work so I got to do a lot of graphic stuff that I really enjoy and is great for my portfolio.
But in the end it’s a role that I took for an entire year, where I knew the entire time it wasn’t going to work out, knew going into it that it probably wasn’t going to work out, but I did it anyway. I left my previous job to work on my own writing and get my freelance writing and design business up and running, and I completely abandoned it for this role. And I have been wondering why I did that.
I went out for lunch with a friend last week who I met at my old job at the recruitment firm (the one I left in the summer of 2015). She is still in recruiting – though for a different company now – so we got talking about career stuff and I explained the above to her and she asked me “Why would you take that job if you knew it wasn’t right for you?”
Well, aside from the fact that it’s a great organization and I was being optimistic about my role there, I think there are two main reasons:
I felt like I needed a job. Though I was actually doing well freelancing I was feeling antsy and like I needed a steady 9-5. Our society really puts emphasis on having a “job”. We value going somewhere every day for 8 hours and working and getting a steady paycheque. I felt the pressure to have that, and whether that was actual pressure or just imagined pressure that I was putting on myself I don’t know. Every time someone asked me what I was doing I felt embarrassed to not have a “job”, which I know is ridiculous!
And that same friend pointed this reason out to me and everything sort of clicked – I took that position because it was safe. It was the easy way out. It was a role that I knew I could do, that I had experience in, and I knew that while I was there I was in a safe space. It wasn’t anything new and I wasn’t branching out. I wasn’t putting myself out there. Doing your own thing is A LOT harder than showing up somewhere every day and doing what you’re told. So I put my own thing on hold and I did the safe, easy thing.
The problem is I didn’t give myself enough time to try out what I really want to be doing, which is working for myself. I don’t know if I would have failed or succeeded because I only gave it a halfhearted try. I wanted to start a podcast, I wanted to start a web comic, I have a lot of ongoing blog goals, and I wanted to finish my book with stories and cartoons about growing up in the middle of nowhere by March of last year. None of those things happened, because I was being safe and working. Oh sure, I told myself that I would work during the day and focus on those things at night and on weekends, but I did not do that enough.
One afternoon at Girl Guides, the social committee (which I was on) planned a tree tour through the cemetery with the arborist who worked there. His passion for his work was so evident and I remember feeling really envious about his enthusiasm. That the job he went into every day was what he truly loved. There was nothing else he’d rather be doing. His job was his passion and he was living his dream. (I’m sure he still had his moments, everyone does.)
I don’t think that everyone’s job can be their passion. Sometimes I do think you need to work a “job”, to support yourself, your family, whatever. I was talking to another friend about this and she admitted her job is not her passion but she likes it well enough, it pays well, has some flexibility, has amazing benefits and such an amazing pension that she could never picture herself leaving. So maybe she works her job but does things she is passionate about on the side. I totally get that.
But could my job be my passion? I always thought it would be. I can still hear my boss at OFSAA saying to me when my position there was discontinued (I’m sensing a theme here), “Lindsey, you need to write and you need to be creative. You can do more than this role.” He is not wrong, and I knew it about my role there, too, but again it was the safe one! Why did I graduate from journalism and then go into communications? Safe route. I wonder if I will ever be as successful working somewhere else as I will be for myself if I REALLY write and be creative FOR ME and give it a REALLY GOOD TRY.
And I’m not talking about being a professional blogger. I do make some money from my blog, but it’s basically just enough to cover my hosting fees. It’s certainly not enough to live on, and though I could definitely take it up a notch if I stepped up the effort, let’s be honest – this is a hobby blog. Recapping my days is something I do for me, not something I expect to make a living on. But even with my blog I take the safe way out. I started this blog as a healthy living blog when what I really wanted to do was draw comics and tell stories because it was easier to get into it. I need to stop taking the easy way out and really push myself. I do recaps of my regular days because they’re safe and easy instead of doing my stories and drawing comics, and instead of starting a podcast (sometimes I do love recapping my activities but I’m saying I need to branch out more).
And every time my blog has gotten a lot of attention (for example with the guy who didn’t exist and with the piggyback fail) I’ve gotten scared that I’ve attracted too many people and I immediately pulled back and took a break, thus losing that momentum.
So, all this to say, I am currently unemployed but I have some plans (and I signed up for a Ladies Learning Code course that I’m excited about) and honestly it’s a pretty good time to not be working a “job.” Aside from the fact that Evan and I are getting married in four months (OMG!!!) and planning that takes time, I feel like I have a unique opportunity YET AGAIN to figure my shit out. And this time I’m going to. If the right opportunity does come up (’cause I am still hunting!) then yes, I will work a “job”, and maybe that’s what’s in the cards for me and I just haven’t found the right one yet. Maybe that job can even be my passion. But I need to give my own stuff a good try to figure that out. Whatever happens, in a year I will not be in the same place as I am right now.
And WHEW, sorry for the wall of text but it felt so good to write all that!