"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very very long time..."
Biologist. Jewelry Maker. Graphic Designer. Sports Blogger. Medical Researcher. Engineer. Photographer. Physical Therapist. Dog Trainer. Teacher. Stage Manager.
These are a few of the professions occupied by the people I am lucky enough to call friends. Some professions, of course, are more lucrative than others but the undercurrent among them is that these friends love (and I do mean love) what they do. I Facebook stalk them in a jealous, albeit quiet, rage. You know who you are.
Nearly a year ago, I found myself fidgeting. The new lifestyle I was settling into of single parenthood was a big adjustment. My divorce had just been finalized but child support hadn't started yet. I was worried about money and, more than that, I was having a hard time knowing "what to do with myself" when it came to creative outlets for myself. I had gotten so involved in being a couple that I couldn't remember what it was like to do things I enjoyed.
Stressed about money and wanting to participate in something constructive and creative, I reached out to a local Event Designer in Tampa to find out if she needed any weekend help. I was only looking for a few hours a week to help augment my time and support my family. Unbeknownst to me, the designer I contacted just happened to be looking for a part time Event Designer to work from home. With my new independent parental responsibilities, this was rather ideal for me and so she and I entered into a professional relationship which let me utilize a series of skills I have accumulated through a rather obscure work and hobby history: Project Management, Stage Management, Program Development, Drafting and Scale (thank you Mrs. Cortese), and crafting. Things were looking up, I had a good full-time job and supplemented my income with my design clients.
It was never my dream to be a Executive Assistant. In fact, it wasn't until college was on the horizon that I started making my career plans based on stability rather than on what I liked to do. While I was always ambitious, I found myself in college pursuing a degree in English with very little idea of what I was going to do when I exited but assumed that I would pursue work in some administrative capacity. I quickly secured positions which allowed me to take on more responsibility with very little acknowledgement or financial compensation to back the task. Still, I was fortunate to accumulate the skills and to have bosses who let me act with relative independence.
Yet, here I am - 13 years into my career as an Administrative Assistant with little challenge, little change in compensation and something dying inside me just a little bit every day.
There must be something more to life than this.
Growing up, my dad worked on the floor of the NYSE as a stock broker. He started as a runner (aka gopher) in the mid/late 70s, moved up over time to phone clerk and eventually earned a seat as a stock broker. He worked on the floor for 30+ years until everything went the way of electronic trading and brokers were rendered relatively obsolete.
"When you love what you do, you don't work a day in your life", he would say. While, yes, there were plenty of days that he encountered frustration and stupidity, I could tell that the Brooklyn boy got a charge out of waking up every morning, putting on his suit, reading his newspaper on the bus or ferry, and setting foot into a building that represented the crux of our economy. He felt like he was a part of something, I think, that was special; something elite and unique and resembled a brotherhood more than an profession.
This is all a very very VERY long-winded introduction to the point of this blog entry - and hardly the reason why you are here so let me get to the point as concisely as possible.
It is a rare gift when the thing you love to do, the thing that doesn't feel like work, aligns with your ability to make a living. To this point in my life, I have done what I thought was the responsible thing to do and have done exactly and precisely nothing to pursue any kind of passion I have other than the occasional knit scarf.
I have been offered the opportunity to work, full time, as an Event Designer - leveraging my skills, talents and abilities in a way that truly challenges me personally and professionally. Once already I turned down the offer and, in a rare event, opportunity knocked again - harder and louder.
And so, despite the fact that I am working for a p-h-e-n-o-m-e-n-a-l corporate organization with great stability (at long last), I am quitting my "day job" and giving myself, for the first time - ever - the opportunity to do what I love to do - despite its unorthodoxy, despite my fears, and despite all the voices in my neurotic, perfectionistic brain that tell me that I am taking an outstanding risk, I realize that "playing it safe" to this point has actually proved to be far more risky. After all, getting married, buying a house and having a little one is "normal" rather than risky - but in fact, my marriage has ended, the house is in foreclosure, and I am raising a child alone. So much for "safe".
Yet here I am: Single, financially stabilized and successfully raising a child alone so, in the end, I guess "risk" is a term that really bears no power unless I choose to give it power.
Effective January 3rd, 2013, I shed the days of trying to wake up at 5:30am but rather waking at 6:10am and rushing around like a maniac to get out the door, driving over an hour to work at a job that challenges me very little, punching in/punching out, alerting someone when I am leaving for lunch, driving over an hour home, and praying I manage my PTO enough over the course of a year that I will manage to see my friends and family back north - and that the PTO will ALSO align with my financial ability to travel.
Effective January 3rd, 2013, I start living with the intent that my daughter will learn the value of balance between passion and responsibility and that our relationship will benefit from my newfound flexibility and self-management.