With a knotted stomach I hit send on my application. This is probably the 23th job I have applied for in the past 20 years averaging to a job a year. The case however is different; I have been with the same company for several years. However, I have switched positions in a vain attempt to find where I fit. That’s the thing about the working world. It’s hard to know what you are meant to do. Sometimes it is self-doubt that derails you, sometimes it is poor timing, bad economy, or just happenstance.
My career path had been close to a jagged line with peaks and valleys then an upward curving trajectory. After graduating collage I thought, in a naive misguided way, that it would be smooth sailing. Just find a job in my field and happily plug away. That was until I received my first paycheck…and realized it was not enough to cover my rent. What about all that schooling! They told me a college degree was what I needed to set myself up for a good steady stream of income. Arrange my life to have the 2.5 kids and white picket fence of my dreams. I remember staring at the paycheck in disbelief. What I was told in collage was a lie. No dream job was waiting for me when I graduated. No automatic insurance into a good life came with my diploma. I had to change my plans.
Thus ensued my search for the “right” job. A job that didn’t make me feel like I was surrounded by characters from the movie “Office Space,” and that didn’t evoke feelings of the opening scene in “Joe vs. The Volcano.” After spending two years fruitlessly trying to make my collage degree worth something in my chosen field. I got tired of living at the poverty line and decided to ” get a real job,” with set hours and benefits.
What I didn’t know was this job came with a shackle that handcuffed me to my desk and measured every moment of production possible. That included timed bathroom breaks and various acronyms for measuring of productivity. AHT, WID, these that were suppose to have some sort of meaning to me, but never did. I bounce around to several of these types of jobs feeling pretty lost but making enough money to live on.
This time was not a totally loss however, the jobs were draining and unfulfilling but I learned a lot about how I worked and how to get along in an office environment. I learned how to interview for jobs. Mainly when to keep my mouth shut. However, I hated this type of environment, and its lack of freedom. I often hoped I would have a car accident so I would have an excuse not to go to work.
After several years the company decided to move. Everyone was terrified. I was relieved. This was it. This was my way out. But to where? I still did not know. I bounced around to several more jobs until I found the company I have been with. I settled here. Why? The people were not insane, I was not chained to a desk and I enjoyed the environment. Was the job fulfilling… no. I got board pretty quickly.
However, this was another transition point in life where I learned about myself. I got married and gave birth to two children. I found an unusual amount of support in the people I worked with. I learned how to better get along with those of differing viewpoints. I learned that my boss is not an evil maladjusted wackjob, hell bent on making me miserable. They are people who are just trying to get through the day and even if they like you they have to do their job too. The other employee’s came to be like family to me, mean older sisters and spoiled younger brothers at times, but they were there for me when I needed a family. I didn’t know until then a job could offer that.
As far as the work however, I created nothing, left no mark, had no new skills to learn and after a time become board and disgruntled. I needed to move on. So I did. Moved into a position that I thought would allow me to grow. Somewhere I thought would finally lead to a career, to a place where I fit. Unfortunately, this was not it. My hopes where soon dashed in a position that held no movement or growth. It was filled with fossils of an old régime who guarded there knowledge like “my precious” in Lord of the Rings. I was given minimal tasks and little human interaction. This began to weigh on my mind, and my self worth. Little mistakes became inflated. With no were to go, I felt trapped like a claustrophobic in a box.
But as in all the jobs I had prior, I turned inward for my lessons. There was growth to be had but it was inside of me. I needed to identify who I was outside of what I did for a job. Thus began my blog at Inbetweenmoderation.com. I also embarked on the journey of making a cake decorating hobby into a viable side business. Most importantly, I searched beyond my employer to define what I choose to give back to society. This has lead me to try something difference and in the end try for a position that I would have never thought I stood a chance in.
Where am I going with this? The jobs I have had might have seemed like a stagnant void of despair. It might have seemed like I was standing still for all those years, searching for somewhere I fit. I have come to realize that each job was a stepping stone, a place marker for something I need to learn about myself. The growth and change needed to take place in me. I needed to learn about myself before I could ever understand where I fit. So as you go thru your career and job landscape remember, it isn’t the job that make you who you are. It is you that makes you who you are. The job only a part of the journey, but finding where you fit is so much more then any job give you. You find where you fit when you finally figure out what job fits for you.
Thank you Melissa for this wonderful post.