Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Navel Gazing

I’ve spent the past few days revisiting my 2010 plans - partly because it’s now JULY and officially the second half of the year, and partly because it’s been so hot that contemplating one’s navel is about all there is to do around here without risking heat stroke.

My biggest plan for 2010 was that after reading The Happiness Project book, I had intended to follow it religiously throughout the year, focusing on a particularly area of my life each month. And then March came in like the proverbial lion and blew the whole thing out of the water.

As you may recall, the Happiness Project focus for March was work. And, what do you know, I found that the more attention I paid to work the more I was forced to confront the fact that I really wasn’t very happy at my job. To tell you the truth, it was never a great fit, and by all rights I should have quit after about 3 months...but it was the fall of 2008 and the economy was in full-on tank mode, and if there’s anything that will keep you in a job it’s a big ol’ recession on the doorstep. And it wasn’t a bad job – it was just sort of like wearing a pair of expensive shoes that juuuuust didn’t quite fit right, and rubbed your heel the wrong way, and you wound up with this annoying blister/callous thing that just bugged you until you had to finally admit you needed a new pair of shoes. I comforted myself with reminders that it is a great organization (it is) doing great things (it does), and I had a few coworkers I would truly miss if I left. Believe me, I know that for lot of people I’ve just described their dream job – but that ill-fitting shoe kept rubbing me the wrong way.

The more I thought about work the more I found myself wallowing, which mostly manifested itself in me sitting in the dark watching a lot of Dr. Who and Torchwood, and bemoaning the fact that “time traveler” and “alien wrangler” were not legitimate employment options. I also spent a lot of time looking at internet job posting sites, which pushed me into a minor depression. I could see that there were an increasing number of jobs out there, but most of the positions that interested me would have required a significant cut in pay for me (and I had stupidly taken a significant cut when I took my job in 2008). I did ultimately interview for a few positions, most of which I walked out of thinking “same crap/different people” and declined further interviews. One job I really, really wanted – until I found out what the job actually was, and it became painfully clear I was overqualified for the job. By May, I was already burned out on my job search – I’m honestly not sure how people cope with long stretches of job seeking, because after six weeks I was ready to throw in the towel; looking for a job even in the best of circumstances is EXHAUSTING and SOUL SUCKING and DISCOURAGING. As a last ditch effort, I did some research and made a list of several organizations I thought might be good places for me to work…and of course none of them were hiring.

A few weeks later, though, I stumbled upon a job posting for one of those organizations on my list that seemed like a perfect fit. Quite frankly, it felt too good to be true, but I sent in a resume anyway, with one of the longest and most personal cover letters I’ve ever written; I figured I had nothing to lose, and should just put it all out there. Fast forward through a couple of interviews…and I start the first week in August! It still feels a little too good to be true, even though I kicked the proverbial tires pretty hard, but I’m really looking forward to it. I am looking forward to it even though it will require me to take the early train to work, even though I will have to upgrade from “horrifyingly casual” to “business casual” dress, and even though I am going from a 35-hour work week to a 40-hour work week. All this means that I have to resurrect the Happiness Project in full-force, as I will need to take much better care of myself in order to have the requisite amount of energy to do this work I so very much want to do.

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