Image by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane, United States Air Force

I was inspired to write today’s post because of a post that Fractured Faith Blog wrote called Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter….Larne and by a post written by Pointless Overthinking called The WHY Question (which was a reblog and I couldn’t find the original source). On the surface both posts seem totally different until you start piecing them together in your own life.

Stephen Black, co-author of Fractured Faith Blog, writes about having to venture into the town of Larne that is, and I quote, “it’s a soulless place, with no apparent centre. Just lots of roundabouts.” A year ago, this is how I felt, just going around and around the roundabouts of life in a soulless (soul-sucking) career. At least Stephen got the adventure of going down a one way road, the wrong way, and almost landing at the ferry to take him to Scotland.

The soulless and never-ending roundabout in my life was Fall 2017-Spring 2018, think in terms of an academic calendar. I was in a miserable job with other people who were also miserable. Everyone, at that point, was in preservation of life mode, looking out for themselves. I wanted out so badly. I kept thinking, if I can get out of this job everything will be better. If I could just get a job doing “what I love”, I will finally be a success!

This is where The WHY Question comes in. The author writes, “I’ve noticed that most of the people don’t know what they want to do with their lives. They know what they want to have and what they don’t like, but very few people truly know what they want to do with their live. We don’t have goals that can make us fulfilled. We desire things because that’s what we think it will make us feel good and it does, but only for a few moments.”

When I got the job I thought I wanted, this unicorn of a job that would solve all my self-doubt and put me on a successful career track, I found it to be yet another soulless roundabout. Let me try to explain: I like the physical work I was doing. But I hated, absolutely loathed, the politics and the constant critique of my work. I hated having to listen politely to someone telling me that there was “too much white space” when I knew that in that particular instance, white space was absolutely needed for readability much less aesthetically. Since my work is personal, it was hard not to take the criticisms personally. Especially since these people liked my work when I was in my previous job (two different types of work, but same old me).

This job gave me recognition from others in a way I had never experienced before. People who didn’t talk to me in my previous job not only talked to me but actually asked my opinion on things. My job title didn’t have “administrative” in it! I wanted my peers approval (why?) for years. I wanted them to recognize that I was more than “just a secretary”.

But this is was my perfect job! This is what I worked for! This is what I wanted, right? RIGHT?! Why was I hating it so much? When I left that job and had time to think about the why of it all, I recognized a few things. Probably the most important thing I learned was that I was absolutely comfortable going round and round those dang soulless roundabouts. You can be comfortable in your misery if you’re too scared to ask yourself why you keep going.

When I confronted my misery during my three weeks of not having a job, I discovered that I felt safe in my misery. I knew what it was, where it came from. I let my misery hold me back from taking chances (chances are not “safe”). In my misery I knew what to expect every single day. I knew all the players and the politics, and I knew how to work in that system.

This is how abuse victims act. People say, “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” Leaving him means giving up the safety of knowing what happens. If she leaves, what happens to her? Where will she go? Will she lose her job if she has to miss work so she can leave? What about her children? Who will take care of her basic needs of shelter, food and a place to sleep for the night?

My basics need in my misery was a paycheck that gave me shelter, food, and a place to sleep for the night. It paid my bills. It allowed me to take my pets to the vet. It covered the basics. If I left what would happen? But also, if I left would I end up in another soulless place?

In Part 2 I’ll explain how I’ve changed my thinking and why it’s all working now, and it’s not even my dream job. Sort of. You can find part 2 here: Living Your Why Part 2.