Now that the dust has settled a bit from yesterday’s festivities, it’s time to sit down and figure out what to do next. Maybe you, Constant Reader, will have some ideas for me.
I have to admit, my blood pressure has probably dropped 20 points in the past 24 hours. I no longer have to waste my precious weekends dreading another week’s slow suffering at work, or spend two hours a day fighting traffic, or struggle with the physical and mental demands of survey week. I’m even gleeful at the thought of never having to go back to that cold, sterile building I hated with a pink and purple passion, or sit in my cubicle watching hours and hours of dry training videos that were as apt to put me to sleep as teach me anything.
But…..the reality is I’m without a job, and I have NO idea what to do about another one. I’m certain of only one thing right now: I want a job, not a career. I’ve had a career for 20 years, and it’s chewed me up and spit me out. I want something that I can leave at the door when my shift is over. I’m done with positions that require 24/7 responsibility and accountability. It’s late in the day, and I’ve realized that life is too precious—and too short—to spend so much of it tied up in what I do to put food on the table.
I’ve lost the ability, and even the desire, to play. I can’t even remember the last time I did anything fun, and worse, I haven’t missed it. My birthday in January was the last time I really enjoyed anything…..that was over three months ago. I’ve been too busy trying to make the job work even to notice how much I’ve been isolating myself. I haven’t been to a movie in months; my poor sister has to read my blog to find out what’s going on in my life; my kids have to text me if they want to chat. And the only real socializing I do is exchanging one-liners and funny stories with Dr. Awesomesauce during our appointments.
Sounds an awful lot like depression, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s part of it, but I’ve also been agitated and anxious……hence my mixed episode in February and March, and the first part of April wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. What I’m dealing with now, however, is not psychiatric but existential: what will I do? Where do I belong in the world? And can I be happy if I’m not making what I consider to be decent money and living up to the standards I set for myself two decades ago?
I’m scared to go back to being poor. It sucked to live in a two-and-a-half-bedroom apartment with eight people and one bathroom, to be on food stamps and not have enough money to pay the rent and all the bills in the same month. But even as humble as it was, ours was a happy home where we had some great times together; and given the amount of stress our current lifestyle puts squarely on my shoulders, I can think of worse things than giving up the rat race.
It’s just Will and me now, anyway; why do we need 3000 square feet of house and three acres of woods? Why do I need to make so much money that a quarter of my income goes to state and federal taxes? And why, oh why would it be so awful if I were to seek a job that doesn’t demand so much of me that I forget to appreciate my life and the people in it?
I don’t know about you, but I have the feeling I may have just taken my first breath of freedom in many years.
And so the adventure continues……