I don’t think it’s unusual to want to find work doing something you love. There has to be a reason the word career starts with ‘care‘. But I know others who disagree and see work as something you do for a paycheck and nothing more. They tell me ‘it’s just a job‘ and it’s a bad move to combine an interest or passion into your career as that would then suck the fun right out of it.
Joining a career changing course with one hundred other people who are desperate to leave a job they have been doing for ten, fifteen or twenty years, tells me differently and I’ve figured out there are two types of people in the world.
The first type has enough ‘stuff’ in their life to be balanced and happy most of the time. These people may have days when they hate their job or feel stuck, but they believe life has its ups and downs and that’s normal. They keep busy with interests, hobbies, passions or family and quite easily leave their job stresses behind when they ‘clock off’ at the end of the day.
They don’t stay awake half the night worrying about the job and wake up feeling dread for the day ahead. Some may say these people are able to manage their internal anxieties ensuring the good outweighs the bad. They refer to these people as ‘the cup is half full’.
Not So Balanced Life
The other type of worker struggles with their inner self and what they really need to feel ‘whole’. They may flitter through jobs and different employers, sticking to a general theme or trying something completely new. Alternatively, they might spend years in one company excelling in their chosen trade, outwardly doing very well, but the voice inside whispering ‘is this it?’ They may start to question other parts of their lives. Blame their relationship. Experiment with different hobbies or interests for a while – with nothing really sticking. Start telling themselves ‘I would be happy if….. ‘ and then getting the ‘if’ and still not being happy.
Some call these ‘the cup is half empty’ people.
The Mum dilemma
I take offence to these analogies.
In fact, these days if you called me either one I would throw the damn cup at you.
It’s taken me a long time and a lot of guts to decide to try and break out and find work that I truly enjoy rather than doing it for the money or it fits my skill-set or it’s a good company to work for. So you better not tell me I’m a ‘cup is half empty’ type of gal.
Personally, I prefer to think of the two types of people as those who have balance in their lives and those that don’t. And right now I don’t feel as if I have balance.
I have a great (most of the time) husband and lovely (most of the time) kid. I have amazing mates, support around me and a roof over my head. I am relatively healthy (fat doesn’t mean unhealthy) – my ‘cup’ is full thank you very much.
But I’m not doing anything that makes me feel valued.
The trajectory I thought I was on took a turn to an unknown destination when I popped out a child and found that it was more important for me that a job fit around being a mum than the other way around.
Initially, I was very grateful to find that job. I did the drop-offs and pickups every day. Got to spend time with my one and only child – who one day will stop asking me to tickle his back and play Teachers. Only work during the school term. Perfect.
But I worked to fit around my child and professionally became disengaged, demotivated and downright miserable.
I lost my credibility and in a sense my professional identity when I put my child first and became a ‘mum’. And I’m not the only one going through this mum dilemma.
How many women are still doing the job they were in when they had their first child? How many have made personal professional sacrifices for the good of their family, only to realise one day they have completely lost their own identity?
For me, there are no passions or interests that provide distractions. And even if there were, I don’t think they would help me right now. More than ever the work I do next has to mean something because it’s all I will have that’s just me. Something happens when you have a child that maybe only other working mums can understand – I started needing more out of a job. It’s not just enough to do the hours and get the pay packet. I need to feel what I do makes a difference. I need to feel connected.
Having started my career change course I realised it’s not just mothers who go through this. There seems to be a bigger problem out there for many people who are struggling with the same feelings of ‘is this it?’ and are desperately looking for something they can do that they also love.
So I’m not balanced right now but my cup is not half anything. I’m just trying to find something that will make me valued again, as a person, not just a mum.
Is that so wrong?