I have often struggled with what I want to do with my life. I feel like I have to have it all figured out, that I will be a failure if I ever change course. This fear has played a huge part in keeping me hostage in administrative jobs that were of zero interest to me for the past two years. I felt like I could not start off in any direction without being absolutely certain that that was the direction that I wanted to go. Instead, I stayed put, more and more miserable with every less-than-ideal job I took.
When Christmas and the new year rolled around last year, I felt burnt out, stressed, frustrated, and completely miserable. I felt stuck in a job that I disliked with a surprising ferocity, and I didn’t know what to do about it. Bryan and I had just gotten engaged, I was taking a class in the winter semester that my job was going to pay for, and I knew that there were people who would be disappointed in me if I quit. On top of that, the pay was good, the benefits even better.
It took me a while to realize that those were not the things that mattered. These were the important things: three days out of the week, I cried in the shower because I didn’t want to go to work; I came home mentally depleted and incapable of finding the energy to do anything I valued; Bryan and I fought all of the time because I brought all of my work misery home with me. These were warning bells, the sign posts that were telling me that I was on the wrong path, turn back now! And so I made a pact with myself that this was the year that I was going to pursue a job that actually meant something to me, even if it wasn’t going to be my forever career. I was going to stop drifting and take a risk on my own happiness.
And I did. I quit that dissatisfying job without another one lined up, and threw myself into finding a replacement that would actually fire me up, make me excited to go to work every day. Within two weeks of my last day, I had landed that job.
I’ll admit it: I thought that having a job that I loved would fix everything. That everything would be sunshine and roses. I can see many of you shaking your heads at me, smirking at my naivete. I thought that I would never be too exhausted to do the things that I love, that I would never want to up and quit, that I would always love every minute of it.
That’s not the case at all. I work with kids, and though it is wildly fulfilling and more satisfying than anything I have ever done, it is also more challenging than anything I have ever done. There are days when I feel entirely inadequate, like I have no right to be doing what I am doing, when I want to go home and pull the covers over my head and never face my job again, when I spend the day taking deep breaths and trying not to burst into tears.
But I get up every day, excited to go to work, throwing myself into it with more vigor and passion than before, unwilling to give up on it, and here’s why: I have something to fight for now. I care about what I am doing and who I am doing it with more than I ever thought it was possible to care about a mere job. I have a purpose in what I am doing: I love the kids I work with, and I want to do right by them, always, and I want to be a positive influence in their lives. That’s an important cause for me, and I am more than happy to get up at 5:45 every day, and feel unprepared and out of step every minute of the day to do it. There are moments that are just as hard as any at my previous jobs, but I never had the wherewithal and desire to overcome them before.
This job challenges me, stretches me, fulfills me. It’s important. It’s imperfect.
And I couldn’t possibly ask for more.