Monday, November 7, 2011


I walked out of my therapist's office the other day $60 poorer and having lost another 50 minutes of my life to discussing what's become a recurring theme lately: my disappointments at work. The lack of upward mobility and the feeling that my work isn't valued, to be more specific. I've been struggling to find a way to make the situation work, but it doesn't seem to be happening and it's left me feeling angry and frustrated.

On my way out of the office, I spotted something on the ground. It looked like a word, so I leaned closer and discovered I was more or less right; it was a single piece of magnetic poetry.

Sometimes life forces you to face the questions you're not asking yourself. I know the superficial reasons why I'm unhappy at work - I listed them above - but that doesn't explain why the situation makes me so unhappy. So I asked myself the bigger "why?" - why does this really bother me so much? - and the answer became clear immediately. I feel trapped.

I've been in the same job for 5 1/2 years. I've progressed to the point that I make a good salary for someone my age. Good enough, in fact, that leaving my job will probably mean a pay cut - something I can't really afford. I work in a field that's very narrow, and there aren't a lot of opportunities where I live, which means I'll also probably have to move if I want a better job - something I don't want to do right now. And with no opportunities to move up, or even laterally, there isn't room for growth of any kind in my current situation. In short, I'm stuck. I'm only 30 years old (for another week, at least) and I already feel like my career has stalled out. That's the real reason I'm so bothered by the whole thing: I feel stagnant and powerless to do anything about it.

The thing about powerlessness - for me, anyway - is that it's usually false. There are very few situations in which I'm truly powerless; it's just that it's often easier to feel powerless than to do something about it. Lately, I think my default position has been "powerless," waiting for some amazing opportunity to land in my lap. Not only hasn't that happened, but it's probably not going to happen, and waiting around for it is only making me even more unhappy. So I've decided to do something about it.

I just don't know what. Yet.

But I'm going to figure that out. I need to think about my options more broadly. I can volunteer. I can try freelance writing. I can do more nonprofit work. I can blog more. Whatever it is, I need to find a way to feel more fulfilled, and if work isn't going to do it, then I need to figure out what will.

And more importantly, make it happen for myself.


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