Thursday, May 10, 2007

What comes between a quarter and mid-life crisis?

Cuz I think I'm there.

My 29th birthday, job dissatisfaction, and a conversation with my girlfriend regarding a hypothetical move to Chicago seems to have combined into a mind-racing restlessness.

In terms of the 29th birthday, I have this personal notion that it is one thing to be a nomad with an unstable career when you are in your 20s and "just out of college." It is another thing to be pushing 30, with a 10 year high school reunion under your belt, and holding down two jobs that have little hope for upward mobility. When I say this is a personal notion, I truly mean for me personally. On the spectrum of stability desired, mine is stronger than my ex's, but less than say, my sister's. And it is firmly rooted in my history of depression and anxiety. I like a certain level of predictability. But playing it safe can get boring. While I was in desperate need of more stability a year ago, now that I have it, I'm feeling like I could take some risks. I'm a little tired of the status quoness of my life at the moment. The problem with that it, I'm trepidatious of rocking the boat should it capsize into depression if I change too much too fast, or take a risk and fail.

Random aside: Stability shouldn't be confused with spontaneity. I've been accused of not being spontaneous. I can be very spontaneous and fun, dammit.

Anyways, on to the job satisfaction (or lack thereof). Let's review my post-collegiate career path. I'd say said path resembles a course akin to the path an R2D2 with faulty wiring would take. Since graduating from college in 2000...

2000-2001: Lived in hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan: First job out of college was as a patient advocate at a women's clinic. Later worked as a research assistant at the University of Michigan. Volunteered with NARAL during the 2000 election.

2001-2002: moved to Berkeley, California and held 2 jobs (with several temp jobs when I first got there). Worked as a fundraiser for another women's clinic and did customer service in a crunchy granola solar panel store. Very Berkeley.

2002-2003: Back to Michigan, 2 jobs: Customer service in bookstore. Data Entry at a environmental compliance software company.

2003-present: Minneapolis. 2 years of temping at multiple jobs (mostly data entry, but some accounting) in two corporations. At the same time, I worked as a house manager for the Fringe Theater Festival for two summers. Spent three weeks in Louisiana with Red Cross after Katrina. Presently holding 2 jobs: full-time job in the admissions department of a university and a part-time job at a non-profit professional theatre.

I got the admissions job during a time of much-needed stability. I'd been unemployed for several months, very depressed and my relationship was on the rocks. I needed a reason to get off the couch everyday. I went after the admissions job because I thought I could get it, period. There was no particular dream to work in Admissions or even academia for that matter, although I was glad to be leaving Corporate America. I can't really complain about the job. It fulfilled the requisites I needed at the time. It got me out of bed every morning, gave me a regular schedule and enough money to be autonomous. But now that I'm out of that bottomless pit of depression, out of debt and out of the rocky relationship, I'm think my needs in a job are changing.

The pros:
Work with a great group of people (not the whole department, but the 4 people I work with daily)
Don't take my job home with me
Flexible Schedule
$, benefits, 401K

The cons:
As a cynical, low-income lesbian, working at a homophobic Catholic university for rich kids sometimes makes me feel like a sell out.
My group is the low man on totem pool within the dept and we can tell.
Work is not meaningful in any way, boring and mindless actually
Little hope for upward mobility
Money is enough for paying bills, but have to have a 2nd job to buy luxuries such as contact lenses.

Don't even get me started on the part-time job. Recently, when is comes to scheduling, my boss has royally screwed me. Screwed is too polite, it's more like getting pummelled up the arse with a splintered broomstick.

As for the move to Chicago, while it is purely hypothetical at this point, it brought up a bunch of other life stuff. Do I want to stay in Minnesota? My reasons for moving here no longer exist, but that doesn't mean there aren't reasons to stay. I considered moving to Chicago a year ago when my ex and I split (especially when a room opened up in the apartment of a fabulous drag queen across the street from my friends). But I ultimately I decided not to make anymore major life changes (there's that pesky desire for stability coming into play). Do I want a relationship to be the major motivating factor behind another move? No. At least, not yet.

Moving to Chicago Pros and Cons:

Live in the same city as my nephew, sister, brother in law and 2 of my closest friends (and girlfriend if Chicago is where she decides she needs to be).
Live closer to my parents (who are in Chicago all the damn time now, visiting their grandson).
I'd be down south where the weather is balmy. :-)
I'm a Midwest girl.

I have reservations about living in that city (size, quantity of concrete).
Have to leave the friends I have here.

Ultimately I need to decide what my goals are and then prioritize them. Education, career, family. You know, the little stuff. When I try to picture my career, I have a tendency to dismiss my dreams as unrealistic. The whole fear of failure leading to the Smitty that can't get off the couch problem. Family is difficult to picture too, especially as a gay lady. I go back and forth on whether I even want kids, let alone how I would attempt to procure them. But let's not even go there, my brain is fried as is.


chinesetwine said...

We should talk! Having lived there & moved here and been in a state of flux with my own life & all that. Let's grab some drinks & gab soon.

Love ya.

Smitty said...

Chinesetwine- That's actually why I asked you and Leafu if you ever plan to move back to Chicago... it was on my mind!

chinesetwine said...

just realized you wrote back to this... if it says anything, lately minneapolis has been feeling entirely too small & i've been missing the more bustling life of chicago. i guess we'll see next time we visit. i know that while there i did start feeling totally overwhelmed by cement.