Me and the Universe

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
When I took my current job, I told Andy "Three years. That's how long I give that job."

And here we are, more than halfway through my third season, and I can hear the Freudian slips in the conversation every time I talk about my job. "Next year we'll . . . How I think we'll do it next year is . . . "

Next year, next year, next year.

Next year?? Why the heck am I talking about next year like it's a done deal? I haven't signed any contracts. The year ahead remains an open book.

It's no secret that my current job's potential for professional development is low. As the only employee, I'm both at the top and bottom of the work hierarchy. There's a finite amount that my salary can raise, no matter how many years I'm with the organization. There are only so many job responsibilities for me to take on. While it's not really a dead-end job, it is literally a job at the end of a dead-end road.

And you know, I'm respected and trusted in my job and like any job (especially one that deals with the public daily) there are great days and not so great days. What I'm saying is: really, it's a pretty good deal. It's just not the sort job that you could do year in and year out for, oh, the next twenty years, without feeling that maybe you squandered just the teensiest, tiniest bit of your career potential.

Yet somehow three seasons have flown on by and here I am, still in the woods with limited employment options and I. Don't. Know. What. Comes. Next.

Should I go back to school and get a law degree? No, lawyers aren't getting jobs anymore.

Should I get my MFA or MBA? I don't really fancy taking on that much debt, particularly when I'm so close to shrugging off my remaining undergraduate student loans.

Should I take a government job and relax with (relative) job security and health insurance?

Should, should, should I?

I seem to have a mild obsession with forward motion and upward mobility. But I'm rapidly reaching the end of my plotted out life and the thought of not knowing what comes next is a little disconcerting for this anal-retentive planner and plotter.

It's not that I'm at a crossroads. Rather, I'm barrelling down the freeway and it turns out the exits are farther apart than I'd anticipated.  Kind of like when you're driving through North Dakota, an awful lot of time has passed, but I don't feel like I've gotten anywhere. And once again, I'm dreading the question "What comes next." It's so easy to feel guilty about having an uncertain future. I have a feeling that one result of the Great Recession is a lot of uneasy, slightly guilty feeling 20-somethings.

So rather than feeling guilty, now is the time to embrace the unknown. After all, you can't plot out your entire life on a calendar. Life just isn't much fun if it's lived like a checklist. So in the months to come, I'm leaving the roadmap behind (just for the teensiest, tinest bit) and taking it as it comes.  . . . even if I do find the idea absolutely terrifying.



  1. Ada, I think you should "embrace the unknown" and sign on (if
    possible) for one more year in the woods!

  2. I used to be an expert in whining in the comfort zone. I never was more enthusiastically engaged plus excelling and enjoying as in the moment I left the comfort zone.
    terrifying - for sure!
    Incredible rewarding - for sure

    if you take the first step the horizon open its gates for you.
    Sir W. Raleigh

  3. I panic about this stuff all of the time. Having a road map feels so much safer! But you're right. I prefer exciting and free to safe :)

  4. That sounds like an exciting new adventure!! I always believe things happen as they should so try and enjoy the ride :) I got your ad up today too, sorry for the delay, just got back from another vacation.

  5. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    - Mark Twain

    Best of luck in whatever you decide to do, Ada!

  6. "Life is what happens when you are busy making plans..." John Lennon? I do admire that you want to set goals and stride forward. I have never been very good at that.Your life so far seems like a great balance of all that you love and enjoy. I have no doubt the rest of it will be wonderful too!

  7. I think what you are talking to is really representative of our generation. People no longer take jobs that they stay in until retirement (like our parents and grandparents), but we also don't have the quick money options that we saw with people 10 - 20 years older than us (the lawyer fetish...).... we are much more a generation of forging a new path where fulfillment and identity are much bigger parts of the equation.

    Thoughtful and honest post. I really enjoyed it!

  8. That sounds like a good choice. When winter comes, we go into ourselves.

  9. You'll be fine Ada, absolutely fine. I'm sure of it.


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