November 21, 2012

Indecision City

"Endurance is frequently a form of indecision."

- Elizabeth Bibesco

I've been sick with a cold and possibly some sort of flu (and/or reaction to a medication for the cold) for about 12 days now. First of all, since when does a cold last more than four days? I'm not used to this. This is the second or third year in a row that a cold has long worn out its already unwelcome welcome. There isn't a second of all. No, wait, there is. I just remembered it.

Second of all, I've stayed home from work the last two days because my cough has historically and infamously been so over-the-top horrific that everyone around me worries I may be meeting an untimely demise due to mere nasal congestion. I swear it sounds worse than it feels. Since I could barely even move yesterday, I watched a minimum of six movies. They consisted of a cheesy romantic comedy, two indie films, a Disney movie, another cheesy romantic comedy, and...I can't remember. In fact, over the course of the weekend up until now, I'm sure I've watched at least 12 movies. Unbelievable. Some were worth it, like The Pianist. I also watched The Whistleblower, Mulholland Drive, and Tiny Furniture. All interesting. Others I could have done without, but I won't name names since they entertained me at the least. So they served their purpose.

The real reason I'm writing this post is because I started doing some research on Lena Dunham who wrote and directed Tiny Furniture. She's just barely over a year older than I am, and she already made that one film and wrote a hit series on HBO about four girlfriends in their twenties making it New York. She's also delightfully awkward and soft-spoken, and I find her so inspiring. She's just very real.

It got me thinking about what it is I really want to do. I've been working full time at a marketing agency because it's quite enjoyable as far as office jobs go and it has enabled me to pay off debt and save up money for a house hopefully. I feel lucky to work there, but it's far from personally fulfilling. I know that there's a lot of talk about how our generation needs to stop thinking they need to enjoy their jobs and that it's reflective of a feeling of self-entitlement we all have, blah blah blah. I think there is a difference between thinking you deserve to be handed the perfect job and legitimately working toward finding a career from which you gain something other than a paycheck. I just can't live like that.

Once I can't get behind the company I work for or what it is we do, etc., my morale drops significantly. (That isn't to say I feel that way about my current job. It's just a pattern I've noticed.) Then I can't manage to muster up the motivation to do my job as well as I know I should, which, in turn, makes me feel like a horrible human being. Blast you, Catholic guilt. Actually, no, thank you, Catholic guilt. You keep me from heading down a path of apathy. I like to care, even if that means I sometimes care too much.

So the dilemma is this: I applied to a graduate program for counseling, and that's the one path that has had friends and family very supportive whenever I've brought it up. I mean, they're supportive about anything I want to do, but I can tell it's what a lot of them think I ought to do. When I was talking about the prospect of it to a friend's aunt at a baby shower, she said she could see and hear my excitement as I talked about it. I think my deepest fear is that I'll follow this path and find out it doesn't fulfill me in all the ways I always imagined it would. Then again, that's a useless fear because finding that out would just get me one step closer to what I should be doing. That's why I tried acting and improv and have somewhat pursued singing before as well, though I'd still like to pursue it a bit more.

Trying those things made me vulnerable and had me crying on the drive home after class and performances almost every single time. It was so painful yet liberating to find that these things I always dreamed of doing might not be the right fit for me. I wasn't exactly the natural I hoped I would be, but that's okay. At least I know.

Like after every good break-up (because, let's face it, practically every break-up is good seeing as how they all lead you one step closer to where you're ultimately headed), I've learned a lot about myself and am prepared for the next challenge ahead.

I just realized I didn't really get to my dilemma yet. Basically, my husband is very supportive and suggested that I quit my job and just get my life organized, cut out the commute, figure out where I want to work next, and generally enjoy my life a lot more. It's not that my job is horrible; in fact, it's quite good. I drive an hour each way to get there, and that can really get to a person. Not to be dramatic, but, I mean, I spend approximately 500 hours in the car over the course of one year that I am not only not paid for but am also robbed of since I can't pay bills, pursue hobbies, or clean my house from the comfort (or lack thereof) of the driver's seat in my car. What a waste.

Oh yes, back to the dilemma. So I could quit, but then I will inevitably feel like a useless sack of a human being after it takes only a week or two to do all the errands and chores I had planned. I would like to think I'd be motivated to write or go to auditions or research my potential career path, but I just don't know if that's what would happen. I'd like to write a novel or a screenplay or invent something amazing yet obvious in hindsight, but I'm just not certain whether I would channel my energy into that or watching funny YouTube videos with penguins and/or babies. I simply can't trust myself.

Also, if I take time off and/or take a while to find a different job closer to home, then we're saving up that much more slowly for a home. My husband says he'd rather enjoy these next few years together than squander them away with my getting home late every night and being exhausted for nothing. I tend to agree with him but just can't pull the trigger. I've never left a job for nothing. Well, it wouldn't be for nothing. But it wouldn't be for a job. I just feel like I need the time to think and organize and focus and plan so I can move forward with a little more direction. It wouldn't be nothing. It would most definitely be something. So maybe I can trust myself.

Just like the slow fade by which many relationships end, I have continuously given my job one more day, one more week, one more month. Just under a year ago, I had my resignation letter typed, printed, signed, and folded, but I backed out and decided to stick it out a while longer, you know, get over the hump. Again, the job is not terrible or unbearable, but it just isn't what I want to be doing. I'm not sure exactly what I want to be doing, but this certainly isn't it. As I often tell friends who are afraid to leave relationships they know aren't the be-all-to-end-all, you have to let go and be alone in order to be open to meeting the right person. So maybe all I need is to be unemployed and vulnerable in order to push myself into my next venture. I know there's no better time to look for a job than when you have one, but that doesn't exactly work when your job doesn't leave you with enough time to search for, apply to, and interview for (and/or create) that next position.

What's the shame in quitting a job to give yourself time to think and refocus? Is it that it's irresponsible? Lazy even? I had someone tell me that I shouldn't create a pattern of quitting jobs after a year, but that's like saying to not quit relationships after a year once you've realized they're not for you. You can't always wait for a sure thing to come along before jumping ship. Sometimes you just take a leap and hope that you have enough time to figure it all out before you hit the water. And even if you don't have it all figured out by then, come on, it's just water. You can swim.

Even with all of this pep talking of myself, I still think it will be a while before I make any big decisions about my job. I guess that's okay, too. I don't know what happened to the days when I would get this surge of motivation to quit and move on without any fear. Perhaps I just haven't hit that point quite yet. When I do though, I won't be afraid.

I keep thinking there will be some sort of sign to tell me, "Now! Today! Do it!" But maybe the sign that now is the time is the fact that I'm begging for a sign to tell me it's right. I'll keep you posted.