How exactly does one decide that it’s time to reconsider what they thought they knew about themselves?
Almost ten months ago, I quit my last crappy food service job in hopes of finding something that could fulfill me for a number of years. Here and there, I picked up odd jobs doing yard work, pet care, and babysitting. I made promises to myself that I only sort of kept. I rediscovered my life of baking, crafting, writing and music. I combed job websites nearly every day for five months before I found a job, and even then it was only a temporary position.
I’ve been at said job on and off for four or five months now, mostly re-reading all the Harry Potter books in my most valiant attempt to eat up my time. I will say that the experience hasn’t been like this on the whole. For the first several weeks, I actually kept fairly busy between learning how to operate the phone system, filing paperwork, and taking in the excitement of the season. Then it all hit a brick wall and I was left in an almost perpetual state of barely-awake.
I’ve filled out more job applications since the New Year than I have in the five or ten years of working prior. I have all but given up hope on finding a normal, steady job. Every application I’ve sent out has taken just a small bit of my soul with it. I am feeling increasingly wary of every new job I come across. But I’m beginning to wonder if something in my brain is telling me that none of these leads have panned out because I don’t want them to. Or my heart, I don’t know.
I suppose I’ve never been a traditional kind of person. I graduated high school with an Associate’s degree because I spent my junior and senior year taking college classes. I majored in drama in college and graduated by 20, even though I had never participated in theatre in high school. I didn’t even make college friends until my last four or five months of school because I was too scared. I studied abroad in Scotland on a whim and learned more about myself in that single month that I had from all of the rest of my education combined. I came home after that, feeling dizzy and confuse from the whirlwind that was my college experience. Eventually I found a coffee shop job, which became another coffee shop job that I then left in favor of staying at home with my dog. As someone who always excelled academically, it’s been a difficult adjustment to find out how it feels to be behind the rest of your peers.
But in this same period where I’ve felt like I was falling behind in my career, my personal growth has been exponential. I’m not afraid of my mental illnesses anymore. I still suffer, yes, but I’m not ashamed to talk about it. Hell, I’ll shout from the rooftops that I spent all last weekend in bed and I cried about an elephant sticker today. I’ll post online to warn everyone and their mother that I forgot to take my medication one day last week and it’s best to steer clear of my inevitable tornado of mood swings. I’ve learned that it’s okay to spend time doing things that make me happy when the things I should be doing make me sad. I’ve learned to slow down and appreciate the things I take for granted all too often. I’ve learned that travelling alone isn’t just travel, but it’s discovering a world that can only be found by taking the time to see it with clear eyes. I’ve resolved to focus less on what society tells me and more on what my heart tells me.
Lately my heart has been telling me that my job prospects haven’t panned out because I don’t want those jobs anyway. It’s been making noise about going in a different direction, though it’s still muttering under its breath. Maybe I just can’t hear it because I’ve been keeping it quiet for so long that its voice is weak and small. Maybe if I allow it to speak to me instead of squashing it before it gets a chance… maybe I could hear it. Maybe it knows better than I do.
The more I tell myself that I crave stability and security above everything, the more my insides revolt at the sound of those words. The terms ‘sellout’ and ‘quitter’ come to mind. An angel and a demon sit on each shoulder arguing about what’s best for me, but in this case, they’re both ruthlessly hurling swear words in my direction while I sweat over whether “excellent” or “outstanding” would look better on a resume. Angel is convinced that trying to find a desk job we can live with is like trying to fit a whale into a fish tank. Demon simply waves health insurance paperwork under my nose. As the argument grows steadily louder, my mind drifts to the scent of the mountains in Iceland. I see endless blue water below me. I see the vast New York City skyline through the small dirty window of an airplane. I hear the melody of a song I haven’t heard before, and it makes me catch my breath as the bottom drops out of my stomach. Rather than a scene, I see a compilation of a million little things, each of which makes me long for something more than a life of predictability.
Maybe I’m not in a period of reconsideration, but of realizing that my heart has a lot to say if my mind doesn’t drown it out.