Last Updated on April 7, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Oh, friends. It has been a week. Which was prolly obvious to guess, considering that I’ve literally posted nothing this week, until today. Despite having a slew of posts I want to be working on. Not to mention other creative endeavors that have laid dormant all week. That, and just some general musings of late, have let me to today’s topic: my struggle between career and choice, which really is the struggle of juxtapositions, illusions and relationships (or more conflictions) between the two.
What do I mean by all that? Let’s dig in and see if I can find a way to accurately figure it out myself. 😅
So. Discussing my day job and my complicated relationship with it is not a new thing on this blog. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how much you enjoy reading about this particularly situation. (oops.) BUT, for those who don’t know, I’ll try to make the context of my career and choice struggle brief.
For my day job, I work at the university upon which I graduated. I’ve worked here since 2016, working first at one of our libraries. Then, in the winter of 2019, I switched to academic advising. It was a great move and one I still don’t regret doing, as I was over working nights.
Yet, in the span of two and a half years, a job environment I loved quickly became toxic. And complicated.
Obviously, working in an toxic environment is not ideal. It’s the furthest away from ideal. Personally, it’s especially frustrating when I love the job itself. I love working with students, mentoring them by using a blend of personable and organizational skills that I enjoy (and excel at, tbh). I could see myself doing it as a long-term career. However, toxic leadership, university politics and the slow pace of change in academia leaves much room to be desired. And my mental health is struggling because of it.
Going even further, looking past the toxic environment and academia apprehension, the struggle deepens. Due to not being able to work fully remotely, we’re location-locked in a place I don’t want to settle permanent roots. (Let’s not even get into the housing situation and how we couldn’t buy, even if we wanted to.) Plus, my partner has a steady job here that pays well, even if it’s also a less than ideal environment for him, too, with his own toxic challenges and bullshit.
So: what does all of this mean?
The past couple weeks–let’s be real, this could extend to months, if I’m being honest–I’ve been teeter-tottering. One day, I’ll settle and dig deep. I think: I can manage the toxicity I’ve learned at my day job. My apartment that’s overpriced and poorly managed by our landlord, I can organize and spruce up. The partner and I can handle living in a place with no forests, no oceans and no landscape that we dream of. I can stay here and complete my MFA and it’ll be worth it.
But, those days and those thoughts are becoming less frequent than the other side of the coin. The days where the gaslighting and the micromanaging start to affect my mental health more severely. When I dream about living in a home out in the woods, the environment that brings me a joy so pure, I’ve never felt it anywhere else. Dreaming about a remote job that will give extra protection to handle my disability and more flexibility to move away from the state we want to escape.
Yet, when I dream, the problems in the previous section arise, coming to the forefront and grounding me back in reality. On top of the constant job searching (I’ve applied for close to 50+ jobs in the past two years) and consistent rejection, which is demoralizing. Not to mention the impossibility to afford moving while trying to also pay off 2+ years of medical debt, yet also feeling stuck with no options where we’re at.
I am just…very overwhelmed, friends.
Honestly, I’m not sure what the “point” of this post was. I don’t have any witty summations or life lessons. I don’t even have a decision of which career and choice I’d make, if given the chance to have more options than where I’m at: stuck in a toxic workplace, in a state I don’t enjoy, in a living situation that’s less an ideal and drowning in debt.
But, I think I can confidently say that, teeter-tottering as much as I have, for as long as I have, is a sign that I need to change in some way.
I’m just not sure how. Whether it’s having the means, the bandwidth, the opportunity, I just don’t seem to have enough of it. Or, even sometimes, just the bravery to try, feels too ellusive.
And so…we continue, day by day, in the constant battle between wondering if there’s more (and if it’s better) or fearing that this must be enough.