I’m all kinds of grumptastic today. This was me, leaving for work this morning:
The I realized, that’s pretty much me every day going to work anymore.
There’s something seriously wrong with this world. Okay, there are a LOT of things wrong with the world, and many of them are way worse than the one I’m bitching about here. But this is my blog and I’ll complain about what I want to.
What I’m talking about specifically is the abject pigeonholing that happens when one chooses a career path.
When you’re 18 years old, you’re expected to choose what to do with the rest of your life. Twenty-five years later, when you realize you’re bored to tears with your chosen path, beaten down by the corporate drudgery, and craving nothing other than a little bit of change… that’s when you realize that the business world has written you into stone.
I’m a software engineer by trade. Have been for too many years. You know what I do? I mostly sit in a dark corner and swear at the compiler. I say “I hate this” out loud multiple times per day. I dread going to work. I do the best job I can, because: work ethic. Then I go home and I pour my passion into what I’d really rather be doing in the tiny cracks of time that exist between cooking, cleaning and mom-ing.
Meanwhile, I look at the other skills that I’ve slowly simmered on my own back burner over the course of my life: Writing, editing, art, marketing, media. When I engage in these activities, I feel alive. They feed my soul in a way that software never, ever has. I’ve merely tolerated my career, always wanting to be something else. I’ve tried working my way into the creative departments of my companies. I’ve tried applying for jobs outside of IT. I’ve had little bits of freelance success.
But you know what people always ask me? “Why are you writing? Why are you editing? You’re a software engineer.”
Seriously, I could set a stopwatch at the beginning of a talk with a recruiter or potential employer. It would go “ding” right as they asked that question. Every time.
Dear everyone: I’m not a software engineer. I’m a person who chose IT as a career as a teenager. I’m the idiot who didn’t listen to her writing professors when they asked, “Why are you majoring in Computer Science? You should be in Journalism, or English, or… anything but IT!”
You know what, professors? You were so right.
It’s not my passion. At this point, I don’t even like it. I don’t see my value or feel my potential being reached. It doesn’t do a goddamned thing for my soul. All it does is pay my mortgage while I make money hand-over-fist for my corporate overlords.
About a month ago, I took a freelance contract editing a thesis paper for a Taiwanese graduate student. I got more enjoyment out of the four to five hours I spent reading his paper and making corrections than I have in the last four to five years I’ve spent in IT. I’m looking forward to the editing contract I have for a novel starting in a couple weeks. I’m dying to get going on that!
And the thing is, if I could just stop for a few months… if I could just dedicate enough time and energy toward building up editing contracts… I could do it full time.
So yes, I’m out here complaining. I’m whining like there is no tomorrow. But I’m also scheming. And planning.
The world may have built me a pigeonhole, but whether I choose to live in it is up to me.
Many years ago, I used to follow a site called AstroFish. It was a funny little horoscope site written by a guy who spent equal times studying the stars and fishing. His definition of the zodiac signs always made me laugh. In particular, he had this to say about the Pisces (i.e., me)…
“When a fixed, immovable object confronts a Pisces, it’s not like it’s any great challenge. Problems and obstacles which provide hours of frustration for a normal sign just don’t seem to bother the Pisces. The Pisces comes up to the brick wall and sort of transmogrifies right through it. I guess it’s like the old Star Trek “Transporter” everything dissolves, and suddenly, the Pisces is on the other side of the wall. How do they do that?” – Kramer Wetzel, Astrofish
Right now, I feel like my 20-year career is that fixed, immovable object. I’m calibrating my transporter and preparing to teleport myself from where-I-am to where-I-want-to-be, all while leaving everything around me intact and unharmed.
Yeah, it’s a little like this:
There is a way to do this… I know there is. It’s time to start seeking solutions. After all, there’s no such thing as “ready.” So what am I waiting for?