I’m Not Dead … Yet

Y’all. Has it really been nearly seven months since I was last in this blog? This gives me so many Feelings. It makes me sad, because I love this blog. I know, I know. Blogs are not really a “thing” anymore. But I tend to be a person who is chronically behind the times, and I still love blogs. I still love blogging. I never intended for this blog to die a slow death. I never wanted that. But then, there’s a part of me that feels really kind of angry about it, too. Because it’s a sign of everything I have given up and everything I continue to give up on a daily basis. And I guess I feel hopeless, as well. Because I know, deep down inside of myself, that I don’t have anything left over at the end of each day. So, I don’t know how I am going to keep this blog alive.

When last we met, I had just had my toxic epiphany. I thought about things for a while, and I talked with my husband for a while, and I decided to explore the possibility of switching careers. I felt like, surely, there had to be some career out there that was a better fit for my personality. I felt like there had to be a career out there that would feed my creativity instead of snacking on it. My husband knows a person who runs a career counseling firm, so I signed up with them on a monthly basis. I met with a coach several times and tried to home in on a career that would allow me to feel creative and free but still put some food on my family’s table and pay for my daughter’s college.

As I started in on the career counseling sessions, I felt hopeful for the first time in months. For the first time, it seemed like there might be a way out of the work situation in which I have ended up. It seemed like there might be a way out of this career that squeezes me like a pair of too-tight shoes. I thought that, maybe … just maybe, I could find a career that felt right for me. The whole thing felt like my one shot at a “do-over”.

Well … It didn’t work out. At all. It didn’t take long for me to discover that none of the alternate careers in which I was interested would pay anywhere near what I make in my current career. I was expecting to take a pay cut if I made a career switch — provided I could even find and land a job in a new field. I knew the odds were stacked against me from the beginning. But it turned out I would make less than half of my current salary. After talking to my husband again, it just did not seem like a move we could make at this point in time.

So … I guess I am where I am. It’s not ideal, and there is something almost more painful about realizing this. I still want to do good work. I still want to feel that I am contributing something to “life” around me. And, for whatever reason, it seems that I am meant to stay in my current career. If I could go back in time, I like to think I would make different choices, or that I would take a different direction. But the truth is that I jumped into my current career because I grew up poor. And this career seemed like a pretty certain way that I could support myself. I didn’t investigate it. I was so naive at that time in my life that, really, I just did not know any better. If I could go back in time knowing what I know now, maybe I would make different choices or head in a different and more life-satisfying direction. At the same time, all of these experiences have made me the person I am today. So, maybe changing them wouldn’t be a good idea …?

Whatever the case, I suppose it doesn’t matter much at this point. As my husband likes to say: “It is what it is.” For better or worse, I’m stuck. There are good things about my career. For one thing, it helps pay for our mortgage, puts food on our table, and pays for my daughter’s college. So, I am trying to keep my resolve to think about those things on the tough days — like a little, silver lining in a gray world. I’m trying to find joy in small things around me, like all the pretty nail polishes that I love so much or a sunset or my favorite jewelry or a funny TV show.

The thing is: My life is still small. My career and job are still overwhelming. And I need to figure out how to work with that to create some space for myself. I need to figure out a way not to feel like I am suffocating each and every day. I need to find space for my creative self and my mental health. I’m thinking about moving my work space to another part of our house, so my “office”, where all of my favorite artwork and my nail polishes and my other favorite things live, returns to being a safe, creative space for me and not a space I enter with dread every morning. Maybe that change will help me write and create more. I’m terrible at taking breaks throughout the day because assignments come in constantly and have to be turned over quickly. It’s a lot of pressure, and I also know I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m trying to remember to take breaks, especially to get outside for exercise and fresh air. I need to try and quit at a decent/normal time every day, instead of pulling the 10-12 hour days I have been working.

Will these changes help? I don’t know. Can I even manage to make these changes? I don’t know. I mean, they sound small and easy, right? When someone says: “I need to take breaks at work,” that’s kind of a no-brainer. But it’s hard to do in certain work environments. It sounds easy to say that I am going to log off each day at a normal time, but I’m going to have to let go of a lot of guilt in order to make this happen. So, I don’t know how successful I am going to be. I’m sending these words out into the ether in the hopes that they will, somehow, hold me accountable. Because I have to make some kind of change. This is the career I have. And this is the life I have. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to coexist peacefully.

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