Posted by: alphafemme | December 4, 2009

difficult decisions

It’s freezing today, I can see my breath in the air.

I’ve been having a hard time writing this week. I think it’s because the magic that was our little retreat on the Russian River has faded into the dreary stress of work and business as usual.

What do you do when you don’t like your job? When the thing you spend the majority of your waking life doing (especially when you’re me and work a lot of overtime) is something you don’t care about? How do you combat that?

I try to combat that by doing things in my non-working time that I care about: writing here, reading, cooking, spending time with mi’lady (obvi), applying for grad school (almost done!). But it’s hard when I’m sitting here at work, and it’s the end of a week that felt like the longest week ever, and I know I just have to come back on Monday.

What do you do?

I’ve been thinking about leaving my job. I have some money saved, enough to live on, if I really scrimped, for maybe 6 months. I’ve thought about getting a part-time job (I could substitute teach, for example, which would allow me to dictate which days I work, and I’ve already got California certification–but subbing would be quite draining work, I think) and using the rest of my time to write and intern/volunteer with (for example) the rape crisis center I work for, or Femina Potens Gallery.

But, that’s scary. It’s scary to think about living on a shoestring budget, because I know that while my job makes me unhappy, so would constantly worrying and stressing about money. And it’s also scary because I would have to be very self-motivated, I’d have to make my own reasons for getting up in the morning, and to be honest, after a lifetime of having my goals set for me by other people and not really thinking about them beyond the very rudimentary “time to get up for class/work,” I’m not sure what a transition into “time to get up for writing” would be like. I’m not the most disciplined person, and I’m worried that (as has happened with me before on vacations) I’ll dilly-dally, or get distracted watching movies or reading novels or doing stupid internet stuff, and then I’ll get discouraged, and then I’ll wallow. And sink into depression.

I’m also scared that I’m hyping it up, that I have the Grass Is Greener Syndrome, in which, sitting here at work bored out of my mind and annoyed with my coworkers, I think, “gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I could go home? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to get up for work in the morning? Wouldn’t it be nice if I could work from home and play with the cat during the day, listen to my music, make my sandwich at lunchtime?” I’m romanticizing it, this idea of not having to go to work. But what if, when I’m there, I still have the Grass Is Greener Syndrome? What if then it’s not wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-I-could-go-home, but wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-I-could-get-out? What if I feel left out of the workforce, feel isolated and lonely and irrelevant? And sink into depression.

(Does it all end in depression?)

But, at the same time, I’m scared that if I don’t leave my job, that I’ll be setting a pattern for myself of not taking charge of myself. I don’t want to be the person who stays in a safe but unenjoyable job just so I can have security. I’m more interesting than that. I’d like to think I’m more bold than that, too.

How on earth do people deal with this?



  1. Jesus.

    Good luck man.

    I’m too young to offer any proper advice of stuff like that – maybe do teh costs/benefits table my counsellor told me about.

    Write down all that yo stand to lose and all you stand to gain from each option on a piece of paper and weigh them out.

    Then write down the best and worst possible outcome for each situation.

    I use it for loads of stuff – school stuff mostly if I’m honest, but one of my friends used it to help in a relationship – she couldn’t pick between two guys.

    I’m not very helpful, sorry.



  2. If you find the answer, please let me know. I too deal with this…I have the good paying, good benefits corporate job and I didn’t finish college, so starting back from the bottom if I fail is not something I would want to do.

    I dream of being some fancy pants housewife. My grrl/boi has Congressional aspirations…by the time that manifests, I will be in my 50’s (or so)…early retirement is an option :)

    *happy holidays*

  3. You know what? You take one decision at a time. You do what is best for right now and if you change your mind, you change your mind and you deal with it then. I left my homestate last year, last July, to pursue a career and a relationship with a woman I really loved. I thought moving would solve my legal troubles with my ex regarding custody and I needed to step out on my own. I did that. For six months. The day he attacked me I realized I needed to make a different decision.

    So I did.

    And that led me to other, great and awesome experiences. Yes, I have a history of depression, but I also know that living for today, this moment is most important and I have to find happiness in the now.

    There is no wrong decision.

    Only a better decision down the road.

    Good luck.

  4. Oh this is a hard one.

    I’m always annoyingly realistic with stuff like this, and the money part would be a huge worry for me… but I think life is too short to spend such a big part of it doing something you hate.

  5. Ah, the crossroads. They are so damn daunting, aren’t they? I’m a believer that when you need to move, you will know it. You will feel an overwhelming push in the direction in which you need to go. Don’t worry too much about the when or the what, it will come when it’s time. The everyday is the the stuff that life is made up of and it’s important to focus on not letting the future get in the way of the here and now. Let go just a little.

  6. I’m not going to be as philosophical or make as much sense as anybody else here, but that’s alright.

    I’ve recently got out of this situation myself, and even though I’m scraping by with my money and am facing huge bills in the coming year I feel so free. It’s hard to live without any real income for a time but I think it’s even harder to work a job that you aren’t passionate about.

    I don’t know if it’s the right choice for you but I say, be selfish. If it’s not got the magic, leave it and try to find that magic. Sue, you might not have a constant flow of money coming in but you’d be amazed by how little you can actually live on.

    But it is your decision, but the way I see it: Life’s too short to being doing something you don’t enjoy.

    Anyway if you left your job you might find opportunities in the word that you never knew where there.

    – Cal.

    P.S. I think I failed in the not-making-sense part. Damn parents are beginning to rub off on me.

  7. You can’t hate your job.

    Money worries are no fun, and can wake you up in the middle of the night, but so can knowing you have. to. go. in. again on Monday. And the Monday after that. And the Monday after that.

    How can we be content with a few weeks a year and only having Real Lives on the weekends?

    Your life is too big to fit into the cracks between workdays at a job you hate.

    Unless the perks are really, really good.

  8. I quit one of my half-jobs in October and have been loving life all the more since. Of course, I have the boyfriend helping to support me. He’s got a more than full time job that he loves, and we were able to determine that, with him working as much as he was and loving every minute, I could afford to work a little less. This has given me time to reconnect with myself and I have a hard time remembering when I was last so generally cheerful. Of course, I’ve got that security cushion of the guy’s income, so I can’t say how that applies to your situation.

    Here’s what I would do if I were you: see if you get into a grad school. If you do, quit your job and use the intervening time to discover yourself. If you don’t, go look for a Plan, something you really want to do and, once you figure that out, quit your job and use the time to further your Plan. Meanwhile, live as carefully as you can and keep socking money away into savings. If you’re really miserable, see if they’d be willing to let you cut back your hours a bit.

  9. I’m in a very similar position. I’m in the corporate, safe, boring and completely passionless job. It definitely has its pros, like a steady paycheck and health benefits in an economic downturn. But I also want to do something that inspires me. I’m definitely plotting and using my current job to keep me stable (financially AND mentally – I don’t do well without some structure) until it’s time. I just trust that I’ll know when that is.

    I’d say just keep checking in with yourself. Know what you want and make the plan to get it. It sounds like you already know what some of your limitations or tendencies are, and that’s a good start.

  10. […] comments, both on this post wishing me and mi’lady happiness together after one year, and on this one, offering suggestions and advice and sympathy on my work and life situation. All of those comments […]

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