(78) this not-very-merry-go-round (I want off)

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I have to do something about this _____ job. Fill in the blank with an expletive of your choice. Or no expletive at all if it doesn’t seem necessary. Words like “ideal” and “wonderfully flexible” might also fit in some instances.

People tell me that I can do bigger and better things, that I am smart enough and skilled enough to make more money. People tell me that I need to get a job where I can speak Spanish. And I feel like crying because I feel like I can hardly put together a sentence in Spanish anymore. I don’t dream in Spanish. I don’t think in Spanish. That was just a beautiful part of one very challenging season of my life and I have no idea how to resurrect it in this current season.

The thing that gets to me is that sometimes no matter how hard you try to push ahead, it still feels like treading water. I spent 2 hours on the phone this morning checking things off the to-do list, mainly making appointments and taking care of financial issues. But there are still a few more calls to be made. I tried to sit at this table all day, I had excellent intentions, I even felt like I was being focused and working hard sometimes, but then at the end of the day, I’m still behind.

I do not want this job. But I should be thankful for it. I should be able to apply myself to it. There are a lot of shoulds.

Mind over matter, Anna. You can master your thoughts, you can choose joy, you can choose constructive language.

Yeah, probably.

I am ready to be done with the negativity that I feel about this huge 40 hours a week of my life right now. I’d really like to move on. I need this job right now and that’s that. With an upcoming move in just a few months and a very uncertain next few months after that, it would be great if I could really buckle down and work hard where I am.

I haven’t come to terms yet with this:  that I’m almost 30 and I don’t really know what I want to do when I grow up. Don’t laugh at me, it isn’t funny. They always said I could do anything, that I could change the world. But I can’t even change myself sometimes. And my world feels so small. I don’t want to dream big because I’m too tired to make any dreams happen. Sometimes it feels like all I have to show for my college degree is a heavy monthly payment on an unimaginably huge loan.

I know there is more to life than things like jobs and money.

I wish I would just embrace this damn job and do my best at it. I’ve thought of all kinds of charts and graphs and motivational techniques to try and push myself harder. Why does it even matter what I’m doing? I need to work right now and this job is as good as any, right?

And also, I don’t even know where I’d look for other work. Or what I’d look for. It’s easy to look around at my friends who are finishing shiny brand-new Masters’ degrees or otherwise working in “their fields” and feel jealous. The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it?

I think maybe the Big Thing (or one of them) under all this is that I don’t really know who I am. That sounds dumb. But it feels like 30 is right around the corner (14-ish months away, so a kind of big corner) and I still feel like I’m feeling around in the dark, groping around for something that feels real, something that I can grab onto and say, “yeah, this, this is what I want, this is what I was made for. I can do this!” There are probably lots of helpful questionnaires and books and ways to figure this stuff out.

Jesus, where do I go from here? I feel like I’ve been on this merry-go-round for too long and it isn’t very merry. If it’s just an attitude adjustment, a challenge to embrace where I am, then good, but I need a lot of help with that. Maybe a broader perspective is the trick? Or if I need to research and ask questions and fill out stuff and try new things or whatever, then I need a lot of help with that too because that totally freaks me out. I may not really know who I am, but I definitely don’t want to be a whiner.

So there you go. Some real stuff tonight. Not very nice, but I’m posting it to the blog anyway because I think it’s good for me. Because it’s good to be real at least, even if real is repetitive and unresolved.

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(56) is this idolatry?

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”     – Jesus   (Jn 16:33 NIV)

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I am going to engage in a little bit of hyperbole, or perhaps blatant exaggeration. Consider yourself forewarned.

You wouldn’t know that I had voluntarily signed a contract to work for this company, with the amount of griping and crying I’ve done over this new job. I have spent hours, days, slaving over the computer, by turns desperate/frantic and angry. And yes, sometimes simply resigned, sometimes reminding myself of all the lovely truths:

Everyone works. No job is perfect. The beginning is challenging, but it’ll get better. Any job would require you to give up your free time. You can’t have everything you want, my dear. And you did get yourself into this one, you know.

…but sometimes I am just angry. Angry at myself, for ever thinking this was a good idea, for walking through the various doors I’ve had to walk through to get here. And angry at the gods of work for the vast injustice of it all.

The only reason I condescend to work hour after hour to learn this job is because I expect to profit in the future from all of this. Maybe even profit considerably. But my hopes are waning and expectations slipping, particularly after a weekend during which I worked many hours, but my sisters probably could have taught two piano lessons or cut and colored someone’s hair and made as much or more money than I have. Ah, the unfairness! How is it that the life of work continues to be so unfair?

Or perhaps the better question is, who promised you, Anna, that life would be or feel fair?

Perhaps it was the gods of work who, like those shady friends you’ve always been warned about, slipped a few lying expectations into a heady cocktail of aspirations, a cocktail I have apparently gulped right down.

When I consider “working” and “getting a job,” I have a deeply rooted set of expectations. I want to do something that I will enjoy, so that I do not feel like I’m sacrificing time on the altar of another person’s ambition (it’s their company, after all), time that would be better spent on my own pursuits (or even wasted). I want to profit considerably, not just making a wage I can subsist on, but a wage I can play with. Plus, I’m a college graduate, which is supposed to mean something (a.k.a. I am better than other people and deserve a better job). And I am embarrassingly flippant about all of this, not stopping to consider that if I do not work to support myself, than someone else* will have to.

It is becoming clear that none of these expectations are based in the life experiences promised by Jesus (see quote above). And if I really am looking to find a job that can feel some desire or need that I have or a job that indulges my tending-toward-selfish (ok, selfish) nature, then maybe it could be called idolatry.

 

It would be nice to say that I am totally ready to give all of this up and embrace this reality. Except I am not all the way repentant about it yet. But I am getting tired, tired of fighting so hard against what life is holding out for me, and maybe I would do well to take one sister’s advice and just decide to like the job, like the process. Just decide to like it. Embrace reality, Anna.

And, if it helps, maybe think for just a fleeting moment about the women working in wretched conditions in Asian factories, making a dollar or two a day, who can’t even quit and find another job. That is not a very nice thought.

It is really hard to turn this attitude around, I am finding.

I hope that awareness is a good beginning. And fortunately for me, I get to practice every. single. freaking. day.

 

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*The “someone else” I’m thinking of is my husband. Isn’t it amazing (in a terrible way) that in my despair and frustration with this new job, I have been thankful relatively infrequently for his sacrifice in going to work, day after day, to a job he doesn’t particularly like and which has taken him far (to the nth power) out of his comfort zone? It is clear that I need more of Christ and less of my self to conquer these sneaky attitudes and expectations.

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.