You’ve heard the tongue-in-cheek lingo…a short person is “height-challenged,” someone who can’t drive around the block without getting lost is “directionally challenged,” a new parent is “sleep-challenged.” Me, I’m career-challenged. As in, I’m terribly challenged when it comes to my work.

Take today…an ordinary day, slow, waiting for clients to give feedback or start a new project I know is coming. Wondering what the heck is going on with that other client who’s grown silent in the middle of a brochure project we’re weeks invested in. Then I get an e-mail from a client I haven’t worked with in over a year, wanting to know if I’m up for traveling to Phillie to cover a roundtable discussion (write up the event, possibly do a white paper or other piece about it after).

My first thought: I’d rather go to the dentist and get a tooth pulled.

A. I don’t like traveling.

B. I don’t like the pressure of having to sit through a roundtable on a topic I know nothing about and be attentive enough (and smart enough) to write about it afterward.

C. I don’t like traveling.

D. You get the picture.

One of the reasons I work for myself for considerably less money and security than I could get working somewhere else is that I want to be able to say “no” to assignments like these. But that doesn’t mean I feel good about it.

Mike would say, “You should do it.” (He’s very bottom-line focused. If it makes money, do it. Hell, if someone wants you to do it and it doesn’t make money, do it anyway.)

If I was at all concerned about improving my skills as a writer, I’d do it.

If I was at all concerned about making more money, I’d do it.

If I was at all concerned about my career, I’d do it.

But I’m just not. And I kind of hate that about myself.

Truth is, I live in my comfort zone, and I’m quite happy here. But all the pundits and business-types would advise me, for my own good of course, to break out of it…to establish “stretch goals” …to always be pushing to become better, stronger, faster….to get out there and network…to just do it.

But I know I won’t. I just don’t care enough. I’m good at what I do, but I only want to do what I want to do. So maybe that means I’m not so good after all?

Maybe if I had a job/career/vocation I was passionate about, it would come easier. Or maybe if it was a topic I was interested in…what if someone asked me to go to a gardening roundtable or cooking roundtable or decorating roundtable and write it up afterward? Yeah, I could see myself doing that. Looking forward to it even.

Clearly, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Actually, that’s a lie. I know what I want to be. It’s called a housewife. And I know a lot of other smart, talented, educated, capable, gainfully employed women who want to be the same thing.

But for now, I suppose I’ll put my writing expertise to work, tactfully, perhaps regretfully, telling my client, whom I really like and hope to work with again, “thanks but no thanks.”

And I’ll hate myself for it. Even as I thank God for letting me be in a position to do it.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
~ Confucius

Choose a job you sorta like, but only on your own terms,
and you will always feel like you’re wasting your life.
~ Christine



  1. BoatDrinkBaby said,

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Chris! Stop beating yourself up. None of the pundits know anything and all of the “shoulds” are cookie-cutter bullshit. (And I can only imagine what THOSE cookies would taste like!) In this piece you have answered your own question but perhaps you can’t see it. “I’m good at what I do, but I only want to do what I want to do.” . . . I’d say that sounds pretty brilliant and idyllic. Happiness is what matters. (Not clients, not shoulds and coulds, not society, not Corporate America.) You know this. I know you know this. But I’m reminding you.

    Jealous in Cubeville,

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks, B. I know YOU understand, having been on both sides of the fence right with me. But I know you get the guilt part too…(Where do I get off saying no to assignments others would love to have? Where do I get off turning down a paying job because “it’s too hard” “It’s too far” “I don’t wanna” waa waa waa) It’s like I’m a GenY instead of a late Boomer. I clearly didn’t get the career/duty gene.

  3. BoatDrinkBaby said,

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    You have earned the right to say no to jobs others would love to have and to say “I don’t wanna.” I refuse to admit I understand the guilt 😉

    p.s. I used to be type A but I gave it up long ago. Come hang with me at the type B table. We have more fun.

  4. robbie said,

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Sounds like you’re depressed. Or you have that winter/gloomy thing someone made up a few years ago. Maybe you’re just in a HUGE rut. Whatever, honey, it’s time to get out. It’s too easy to say no. And you’re too young to start. You need to look at that trip to Philly as not work but play. A gift from the fun fairy! After the meeting, schedule a bunch of fun stuff. Maybe spend the night. And for crying out loud, take that husband of yours with you. You need to live life AND get paid for it! Now that’s something to be thankful for.

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

      Goodness — any gift from the fun fairy would NOT include a roundtable on life sciences compliance. But I agree, a real vacation would definitely be great!

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