Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Fish? They're Coming With Me

So it's been 11 months since the nasty layoff and time keeps ticking. I've been applying for jobs that come up, doing volunteer work here and there, enjoying my free time, and having no idea what I'll do long-term. None. I just can't see it. And I don't know what do to. I keep thinking that as I spend time thinking about it, searching through the want ads and researching other opportunities, something will just *click* and I'll think - that's it. That's what I want to do.

But it hasn't happened in 11 months. People keep telling me that this is a perfect time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and go in a totally different direction, and I know that. But I don't know what that direction would be. It would be really cool if I could say SCREW IT! and pull a Jerry Maguire and do something radical. I'd love to figure out a way to travel internationally and surf full-time, of course I would. But I don't know how. And I don't know if inspiration is going to come if I keep on waiting.

What I do know is this: I have zero interest in business, maximizing profits, improving morale, running test scenarios, conducting root cause analyses, leading conference calls, handing out 3% raises. I don't want to keep track of your sorry ass and if you're late to work or not. I don't want to take classes where I give mock sales presentations, and I don't want to travel to visit clients. I don't want to meet with you weekly to track your performance and "inspire" you to work harder, and I don't ever - and I mean ever again - want to use the word "passion" when I'm talking about banking.

This creates a huge problem for me, and it leaves me feeling very vulnerable and confused. Truly. I've been in banking for 16 years and for most of that time I've really enjoyed it. At times I've loved it. It's my grandfather's profession. And I've taken a tremendous amount of pride in what I've accomplished. I literally grew up in banking. Over the years my employers have helped me earn two college degrees, buy my first house, and fulfill my biggest dream ever of living overseas. They've also helped me learn what it means to be a manager, and a leader, and I think I've done a good job with what I've been taught, and I've given a lot back to them and to a few hundred employees. But banking is different now than when I started in 1993. And I think if it wasn't already on life support from my time in Japan, the job in New York pretty much killed it for me. I'm sure it's deeper than that, and I guess there were good things about that position, but when I think of a truly soul-sucking job, I think of my job in New York. And I want to put that behind me.

I want to do something bigger. I want to do something meaningful. In the past I've make a conscious choice to have a job that makes decent money and leaves me time to do volunteer work to find personal meaning. That worked out well for me for quite a while. But now I'm tired of it all and I want to do something that matters, even just a little bit.

My brother and SIL are teachers and they've suggested teaching to me a few times. I remembered that when I taught for 3 terms at a local college in Japan, I really did love it. I found a little evidence of that here on the blog - #24 on my 100 Things list from 2007, and in this weirdly-formatted post from 2004. And I used to talk with my then-boss about how much I liked it after I'd had a particularly good class. Last week I got out my old student evals from that time and they're really great - they reminded me of the feeling of connecting with students and the sense that you're making a small but real difference in someone's life. I'm not saying that teaching is my true calling or my passion or my dream come true, so settle down. But I did really love teaching, and I eventually quit just because it was so damn much work for so little money, and I had my very demanding day job to attend to.

So I've been thinking more about teaching and I'm horrified to say that I think I'm applying for a Masters in Teaching program that will allow me to become certified as a high school teacher in hopefully one year-ish. I would want to teach psych/soc, which is what my undergrad education is in, and psych has always been my first love. The whole thing is so mysterious - so many tests to take and forms to fill out, classroom observations, student teaching, and more. I mean, student loans. Can I even do this? Am I too old? Am I too tired? Do I even know how to be the student, the employee anymore? What if I can't support myself on the salary? And what if I get into it and don't really love it? It's very possible. What if I become a teacher and then complain about my job and you guys all say YOU CAN'T COMPLAIN ABOUT TEACHING. YOU DIDN'T LIKE BANKING. YOU HAVE TO LIKE TEACHING.

I think I'd feel better if I had a revelation, maybe a vision in a dream or a thousand angels descending on my apartment with the message that I'm supposed to be a teacher. I don't have that at all. But I think I'm at the point where I'm deciding this might be a good job that I might end up really enjoying so I'm thinking about going for it. Maybe summers off to surf? I don't know.

This whole being a grown up thing is exhausting.


  1. I had so much anxiety writing this post I had to get up and clean the whole house right in the middle of it.

  2. Pardon me, I'm gonna preach. Yanno, I had a year off and didn't figure it all out then. I still don't have it all figured out (and I do "meaningful" work that "makes a difference"), but I can say that I'm a helluva lot closer.

    There is no ticking time clock (yes, I know money is doing its draining thing) and you don't have to figure it all out right now. I'm a firm believer that you don't need to know the how. The Big U will figure that one out. All you gotta do is keep sussing out what it is you want and stay open to however it manages to show up. And yanno what? You can change your mind as many times as you want. You can hate teaching, you can hate banking, you can hate or love whatever you damn well please. It's your life, after all.

    I believe that life can turn on a dime and the craziest shit can happen in an instant that makes it all seem magical. But I think most often, it's a gradual change, like a wee flower coming up out of the ground as a green shoot. Sometimes, blossoming takes time and the journey means everything.

    Preaching ovah. Congrats on trying something new! You so brave and awesome.

  3. GO FOT IT!

    Fight, fight, fight to find your love. I think teaching would look great on you.

  4. I wish I had a revelation that said I am in the right major and pursuing the right career(ish). Or something.

    But honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing. I know I'm still practically a kid so I guess that's okay.

    I don't think we ever get that revelation that this, THIS, is what we are meant to do. And the people who say they had that? Wankers. Yep.

    Since I still have about two months until school starts, I just hope I can find a job. Well, find one that gives me hours at least.

  5. As Aimee says, it seems to me that Teaching would be a good fit for you. And it would certainly free you for a few months of surfing/ travelling/ whatever a year. At the very least, you know it's something that you have also enjoyed in your time.

    The anxiety-provoking posts are always the best in the end. I certainly wish I resorted to cleaning in times of stress (but I'm a guy).

    You shouldn't have any problem being the student for a year - you've been one at least twice in the past year (yoga and surf). Your brain has clearly not calcified into middle age yet. Of everyone I know you are the most open to new experiences and directions. Really.

    I hear you about the "do i know how to be an employee anymore?" thing. That's been troubling me at night.

    That and those thousand darned angels above my bed who never seem to shut up.

  6. Self-absorbed me wants you to move "Up North" (well, and a little east from where you stand) and start a business here. There is meaning all around and needs like crazy and it's beautiful and it's foreign and... you could hang out with Buford in person. And me, obviously, cause this is the self-absorbed section of my comment.

    On a not so self-absorbed note: I love your posts.... dearly. They touch me and come with me when I go out and walk the B. You got some skills, and I am feeling enriched by you.

    I am currently in a place where I - all of a sudden - find people that want and admire my skills... whereas a few months (hell, weeks, or even days) ago I felt completely utterly skillless (yup, I'll write that with 3 ls)... and what has changed between the two? My actual location. Followed by my attitude. Then creativity joined. And now my life is on a whole new track.

    Keep chugging... create options (such as the teaching piece) - I believe that there is incredible stuff that can be done with teaching and surfing and traveling and writing and kids... or folks who cannot find jobs... or veterans... or... you name it!

    I really want to have tea with you right now and play with some visions.


  7. Peace Corps... Peace Corps... Peeeeaaace Cooooorps...

  8. If we all waited on revelations, signs or miracles we would not DO anything. I know it is scary to leap but LEAP! Because sitting around worrying about what to do is only causing you more worry. At least doing something is action and with action comes momentum and with momentum comes change. You might veer off the path but so what? You'll just keep going like you always do because you are resilient and smart and fierce.


    Now go.

  9. Although I am not unemployed, everything you are going through-career wise-is exactly where I am.

    Where are my lightening bolts!?!? Is it so much to ask for a huge gesture from the damn universe? (maybe if I didn't call it the damn universe?)

    But, I agree with everyone else-give it a try. See where it takes you. If that's not exactly right, you may find what is along the way. You teach me so much in everything you write, so I can imagine how fun it's be to sit in your classroom!

  10. There is no time limit on your life, dude. And there is no loss in trying something. Anything you do is going to be to your net benefit, whether it "works out" or not.

    I say go for it.

  11. As a teacher, I will tell you that I never, ever have questioned my decision. It might not be a forever career, but man, it's amazing.

    I wish you the best---and as Sizzle said, if I waited for a sign, I wouldn't do ANYTHING.

  12. go go go for it!

    so, my family is full of teachers in various forms. both my aunts, my cousin, his wife.

    they all started as regular "teachers" and over the years moved into various specialty teaching areas... so that is also an option for you!

    my aunt was a grade school teacher for years and then got her masters and moved on to teach challenged kids and then managed the district's literacy program. she loved it!

    my cousin was teaching high school english/drama for a number of years in CA, then got his masters and took a program management job (in TX of all places) managing (read: fixing the mess) all the state exams kids had to take for the school district. they moved back to CA and now he is vice principal at his old school.

    so, there are so many ways in which it could serve you.

    go you.

  13. feel free to email or call me. :)

  14. I'm thinking "breakthrough" do the one year-ish program.

    You gave banking your all, I know you did. Your grandpa would be very proud and he would probably tell you to follow your emerging dream. The skills you learned will serve you well in a classroom. You're not too old, you will be a stellar student again and you've lived on le$$! And surfed.

    my word verification word:
    runfolum - I am translating it as:
    "Run, follow 'um"

  15. Thanks god. I got fired on Friday and was a bit stressed out that I didn't quite know what to do with myself...

    I am going to send my mother to your blog...

    The Man told me that stalking Eddie Vedder was not a valid career option, and now I'm stumped. Stupid money.

  16. I left (voluntarily) a long-term job and ended up doing something I thought I would LOVE. I failed at it.

    So I took a year off and figured I'd find myself and my true calling. I ended up back at employer #1. (You know that!)

    Long story longer (!) - you don't know what you will love, really. But I can so, so TOTALLY see you as an amazing teacher. So don't wait for a revelation. Just trust those of us who know better than you how amazing you are.

    GO DO IT.


  17. I, for one, think you would be an amazing! teacher.

    And if you hate it? Meh. It will only take a year to get certified, and you will grow your brain in the process and have more clarity I'm sure re: what you really! want to do (if it's not, in fact, teaching). So: win, win!

  18. All I gotta say is, that picture above of the dude on the toilet playing his guitar made me laugh for hours.
    In other news, you will be amazing at anything you do, sister!

  19. I don't know if you would be a good teacher or not. I don't really know you. But I have three very very good friends who were/are teachers, and they loved it. They got burned out, but they loved it.

    I also like the Peace Corps idea. Seems like a good fit for you, possibly.

    the important thing, I guess, is that you keep trying. Really. What else can you do? Just keep trying, and be nice to people. In the final analysis...isn't that what we all need? Love, Love, Love.
    Love, Love, Love.
    Love, Love, Love.


    Nothin you can do that ain't been done....

    (well, you get the idea)

  20. OH...not only is he playing the guitar while taking a dump...he's also playing the harmonica...yes...I embiggened to see more detail. How pathetic am I?

  21. everyone else has pretty much already said it, but that usually doesn't stop me from saying it again.

    i think life is about the exploration not the finish line. when you look back will you regret not trying? that's the question i ask whenever i'm faced with something new.

    i'll say this, 'you got big balls, lady.' it's scary to try new things. don't worry so much about whether you will like it or not yet. just try. no one will think less of you and if all of these supportive comments are not lies, then most people think you're pretty amazing for even contemplating it.

    which i agree with.

    much luck to you.

  22. Sorry for being late for my reply. Was a bit busy last week and didn't have much time visiting all my favorite blogs.

    I agree with most people of what they have said already, but I think I can suggest you to go through an "simple exercise". You know how some people have a "life changing death experience" and all of a sudden they take on life differently and start to do different things?

    Try to visualize that you are in that position, where you just narrowly escape from death, you feel that you don't want to waste more of your time on things that you don't like. What is the first thing that come to your mind that you want to do? If one day someone is going to write about you, what do you want to be known as? What will give you the most impact about your life and other's life?

    Generally, by the time when you answer to all those questions truthfully, you should have more confident in your decision. Whatever doubt that you have in between are just external circumstances that you don't have control over. If you can't control over them, don't worry about them. Focus on what you can do to achieve that goal and everything else will fall into their places, because that's how life works :D

    *hug* Couldn't be more proud of you, from the bottom of my heart.