Changing the Game: Reflections on Work

I hate how I react whenever anyone asks me where I work or about my job; I tend to flinch. Truth is I don’t hate my job, I don’t have nightmares about it nor do I dread coming into work so why the flinch? I’ve realized that I’ve hit a wall, I’ve been in the same position for going on eight years! I’d been under the impression that I was only six years in which goes to show how disconnected to real time I seem to be. Thanks to LinkedIn for automatically tallying the years and startling me when I updated my status during the Christmas holidays.

I’d love to blame leadership for why my great potential and abundant talents haven’t been recognized or exploited, but truth be told I have no one else to blame but myself for remaining stagnant for so many years. Most of my thirties have been spent in this position.  Yeah, marinate on that! Almost a decade working with the same employer (that’s not the problem), in the same position. I might as well be sleeping beauty, snoozing away in a castle far far away or driving  cross-country on cruise control through plains where the horizon meets the sky for infinity.

 So earlier today I was checking out the February Marie Claire , reading an article in the  @ Work section “Sweat Equity” about Sarah Robb O’Hagan, president of fitness chain Equinox.  She said, “Careers are more like jungle gyms than ladders— sometimes a sideways or backward step can propel you forward.” This is such a powerful statement and one that I needed to see. At age 38 I’m finally attempting to redirect the trajectory of my life; I’m embracing my creative self, attending graduate school despite the constant ‘starving artist’ jokes, and forcing myself bit by bit out of my comfort zone.

When I think about job opportunities particularly in Baltimore it’s a bit daunting. Then when I talk to some of my friends they make it clear that when the move to another position, the only trajectory is up. They’re not telling me what to do rather what they would do, but sometimes those comments seem judgey and I allow that to sink in and render me action-less.  My  mental block is the fact that I think I should be in a far more financially successful place in my life, I should not be renting an apartment and definitely not fading away into the grey walls of my cubicle.

There are plenty of people that joke fine arts degrees but the collective creativity of many is a massive financial engine for the US and I want a piece of the action. After all writers come up with the stories for all of this original programming we’re seeing on HBO, Showtime, Netflix etc. The rules for our parents: go to college-get a job and stay there aren’t relevant today which brings me back to my original flinch. When asked about my job my reaction reflects my disappointment with myself and the fact that I’ve coasted and part of why I’ve coasted is fear;  fear of making less, fear of not having a job, which leads to fear of homelessness, my car being repossessed, no heat due to high energy bills, etc. What O’Hagan’s quote did for me today was to still the voices  within and those around me; her quote gave me permission to be more open to possible opportunities wherever they may be.

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