Maybe it doesn’t matter

I have wavered on the importance of a job for much of my life. Much of the time I have felt that my career is very much an extension of who I am – maybe to the point of ridiculousness. I have always put so much stock in what I do, that I don’t think it ever occurred to me that there was the possibility that a job…could just be a job.

Maybe I don’t have to love it. What if I just have a job for the financial benefits that it provides and I don’t derive any needed self-satisfaction from it? Maybe I could cut myself some slack and simply work to pay the bills and find self-fulfillment in other parts of my life. Is this something I can just *change* like that… ah, the million dollar question.

Where did all of this come from? Well, you see, my job has been KILLING me lately. I would not be surprised if this turned out to be literally true, however for now let us all assume that this is an exaggeration. I am not on my death bed, but I am going crazy. And, I blame my job.

I have always put a lot of stock in my career. I seem to gain quite a bit of self-worth from my work successes. I work very hard. I am good at what I do. I continually improve my skills and delivery. I like being good at this job, and more important – I like being better than anyone ever thought I could be at it, including myself. I like shocking the hell out of my leaders by doing a kick-ass job. It feels good. I feel like I matter when I am good at my career. But, unfortunately I also feel quite bad when I don’t do well, or even when things are out of my control at work. If I don’t perform beyond perfection, I take it very, very personally. So much that it affects every aspect of my life. I think that is why I need a new approach.

For the past few weeks I have been absolutely miserable at work. I HATE MY JOB. So Friday I decided that I simply need a new job…onethat can restore my faith in myself and heal all of my insecurities. I was certain that finding a rewarding job would fix everything. I told my husband that I needed to find something that would make me happy to go to work. I needed something that mattered in this world. And do you know what he did? Nothing…except support me and tell me that whatever I wanted to do was possible. Go back to school? OK. Become a teacher? OK. Whatever I wanted was OK… and well – that left me a little confused. Because….well, I have no idea what I want to be. Do you?

I spent the weekend trying to figure out what job would make me happy to wake up every day. What could I do to feel like I am making a difference here? What is the right career choice for me? I thought about being a teacher…teaching high school Latin or Psychology or Biology. These were the classes that I loved so much in high school. I thought about working for the state as part of Child Protection Services or the court system in the child support area. I even thought about going back to school to be a child psychologist. I did a lot of thinking. And even a lot of drinking. But – I am not sure I figured out anything revolutionary about any of this.

I did however realize today that perhaps it doesn’t matter what I do for a career. Maybe…just maybe – my job can just be ‘my job’ and I can find satisfaction in other things I do. Lets face it – I make a lot of money doing the work I do today. I know how to do my job. And, I know how to keep doing well at it. That is enough isn’t it? And – here is the gem in the dirt pile: If I really want to teach, I can do that on the side, perhaps at the community college. I could go back to school for psychology in the evenings. I could even start working in a mentoring program here and get some of that satisfaction. But – I don’t have to start all over all at once just to be happy with work. At least that is what I am telling myself today in hopes of getting past this lingering feeling of working all day on stuff that simply means…nothing.