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Ruminating on my next move

November 30th, 2014 at 11:36 pm

While I am still acutely aware of how grateful I am with my new job and all that it provides, Sunday night thinking of Monday makes me go "blah."

The next few weeks will bring a few office Xmas parties that I'll be expected to attend, with the requisite Secret Santa gift exchanges with people from other office locations whom I hardly know. I could care less, really, and going to parties I'd rather just skip introduces a degree of stress in my life I wish I could avoid.

NPR had a great series of interviews this afternoon with people who chose to test their personal physical endurance by rowing across the Atlantic Ocean (a woman) and the French guy who walked a high wire across the Twin Towers in NYC years back.

The French man was very interesting to listen to; asked why he did it, he mentioned something about wanting to do something more important and meaningful with his life than feathering his own nest. The woman rower said that although she was petrified with fear the first 2 weeks of rowing alone, with no backup, what kept her going was realizing she was even more afraid of having to return to work in a little cubicle.

The first comment made me wince, the second one made me laugh. They both hit home. Sometimes I feel that my only goal for a long time has been amassing enough savings so that I can retire "early" from work.

My conundrum for years has been that either I'm working and I have "no time" to do the things I want to do, or I'm unemployed and have "no money" to do the things I want to do.

I think it was Monkey Mama who once spoke about the importance of balancing saving for the future with enjoying life now. I need to follow that advice better.

I'm at that point where I'm assessing my life in its entirety, and the ugly truth is, I do feel it lacks purpose. Unlike most people, I can't say I raised a fine human being. And I've worked mostly for private, profitable companies where the bottom line is how much money is made, not making the world a better place.

In my own defense, feeling "secure" has probably been more important to me than many. Due to divorce and multiple moves before I turned 10, I have to say my childhood was very unstable and insecure. We lived in more than one scummy apartment complex; I remember as a kid seeing rats swimming in the stagnant lagoon separated from our apartment building only by a chain link fence.

And although my mother claims not to remember it, I very much remember being told to use no more than 4 squares of toilet paper at a time, and to not drink so much milk, because we didn't have a lot of money.

Perhaps it's been an internalized determination not to live in squalid surroundings and, seeing my own mother's marriages disintegrate, not to depend on anyone else, that's made financial security a pretty big priority for many years.

But I'm getting close enough to reaching my financial goals to see I need other things to focus on. Paying off the mortgage in 2012 was a biggie, and I imagine reaching $1 million in assets a few years from now will also be huge, but after the initial euphoria, what then? I mean, it's not the kind of thing I can go around shouting from the rooftops anyway.

Volunteer work might be part of the answer. I've volunteered in the past for animal organizations and a food pantry. I always have to fight my natural introvert tendencies to get involved, and truth be told, I can be perfectly content to watch movies or do a crossword puzzle, alone.

But I hate committees and meetings, and would rather be DOING something positive. I remember one animal shelter where I volunteered to write an article for the newsletter and I pitched my idea for a story about how destructive to local bird life (not to mention other critters) domesticated house cats can be when allowed to roam free, and the dangers posed by texting drivers, coyotes, dogs, etc.

The woman running the show asked me for an "outline" of my article in advance, and I told her I don't work from outlines. So then she had a long phone conversation with me where she attempted to learn what my "approach" was going to be and how exactly it would be written. She made me feel like i was in the 3rd grade. She was a very controlling person and wanted to vet everything, right down to how I wrote the story. It was a great way to disenfranchise a volunteer. She might as well have written it herself if she didn't trust another person to do it. In the end, I wrote it and it was published, but I never volunteered again for that group.

Contrast that experience with the food pantry at a local church. The leaders there were very amenable to any suggestions I had for improving or expanding on the services the group provided, and they let me run with it. When they experienced shortages of donations, I found a hunting group that agreed to donate venison.

There were a series of discussions, and while in the end the group decided not to take the venison (the hunters didn't want to break down the meat parcels into less than 5 lbs each or something), it was still an interesting initiative that I spearheaded. When a local organic farmer donated some leftover produce, it was my idea to interview him and do a press release that would benefit both the food pantry and the farmer. I found the work there very empowering because I was encouraged to come up with ideas and then run with them.

7 Responses to “Ruminating on my next move”

  1. Dividing the Dime Says:

    I can so relate to this post about Monday (it comes quickly) and the Christmas social/Secret Santa deal this month at work. Heavy sigh.... I'm grateful for my job, and I'm doing what I can to cope even though I feel like I'm in complete burnout. I'm having a hard time staying balanced and creative, but I keep trying. I've also faced the fact that I'm no longer noble about the job or career--I am working in order to quit working. I at least intend to get to the point where I can retire and experiment with other types of work and service and charity and not be so dependent on a 40-hour workweek paycheck. I thought I would be the kind of person who could work a 40 hour week and then do great creative and charitable things in my off hours, but that didn't pan out. A full-time job, a house, church, my health issues, my family's health issues, family (period), has me spent. I have a ways to go for the retirement income of my dreams, but I'll take a runner up. Appreciate your post. What do you think your next move will be?

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    I get a lot of this. Especially wanting to volunteer or donate something of myself, but having to deal with my introvert nature and the fact that much of the volunteer positions are about outreach and dealing with strangers.

    I did come up with one good idea where I think I can put my copywriting skills to work for a local anti-police-brutality group. Now that NaNo is over I'm excited to give it a go. It's hard to find those niches in volunteerism.

  3. PatientSaver Says:

    The funny thing is, I am fine dealing with strangers. I just don't like having to interact as part of a larger group.

    This may all be a pipe dream since I have to deal with my mother's dementia. It's still nice to think about it.

  4. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I so get both the feeling about yet another Monday, and I'm totally in the mode of working to be able to quit as soon as financially feasiable.

    The volunteer thing .. I tried volunteering at the local cat shelter. But they want you to commit to one shift per week. That was just a little too much for me .. where I volunteered at before, you came as you had time. I just don't have the energy to commit to a schedule outside of work.

  5. PatientSaver Says:

    FT, that is another aspect of volunteering that is hard....I don't want to make a commitment unless i can really follow through, and sometimes, especially with committees and regular meetings, it can begin to feel like a 2nd job.

  6. snafu Says:

    A point of information you may find helpful...

    Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania has published a major study attempting to identify differences that related to downsized and retained staff over the 2008 -2012 downturn. [ authors Bailey/Getty not exactly clear]. They concluded that those staff who were clearly social, communicating electronically about coffee, lunch, baseball, football but no more productive or qualified than others were the staff retained. I was surprised that productivity was not a significant factor. You may wish to look at details of their results.

  7. PatientSaver Says:

    Snafu, I'm not surprised about that Wharton study. You can be a real go-getter, but if people don't like you on a personal basis, they probably won't want to have you around, even if you do a great job.

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