Career-challenged

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

 

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You do what all day?

My sister and I had the opportunity before my mother’s ankle surgery last week to accompany her to the pre-op room. I don’t think this is normally allowed (we seemed to be the only family members in there), but we wanted to speak to the anesthesiologist and were permitted to do that in pre-op.

It was quite fascinating. I had been in post-op after my dad’s heart surgery, which was awful (I’ve never seen anybody so white, and quivering from the anesthesia), and in the ICU a few times, but never pre-op. It was like an ER, with lots of “slots” for beds and many people in scrubs and booties scurrying around doing their thing, which included taping the doctor’s name to the patient’s gurney, taping a note if the patient still needed to be “marked” for surgery, taking vitals, administering shots and IVs, and checking and rechecking to make sure they had the right patient slated for the right surgery. We talked to nurses, the CRNA, the anesthesiologist, and her surgeon, who all explained what they would do. Everyone was kind and matter-of-fact as they went about their life-and-death jobs.

All the while, I kept thinking, “How do people do this every day?” It was about as far away from my solitary desk and computer and “oh crap, e-mail’s down” worries as it could be. Nothing I do is even remotely critical (“My God, a typo! What will we do?), yet for these folks and millions of medical professionals in thousands of hospitals, it’s all in a day’s work.

It got me thinking: Along with “take your daughter to work” day, I wish they had “take anybody to work” day so I could see more of what others do day to day. It’s fascinating. Maybe I’d finally discover what I really want to be when I grow up. For sure I’d continue to marvel at people whose skills and talents are so vastly different from mine.

Nothing is really work unless you would
rather be doing something else.
 
                           ~ James Matthew Barrie