Ever since I was laid off from my job three and a half years ago, I have really struggled finding my way back to any sort of fulfilling career. By all reasonable standards, I should consider myself a success. Granted, I have not come anywhere close to coming back the the financial security I had at the beginning of 2015, but I have secured a job back in the industry I worked with a decent income and decent benefits. It’s no where near as interesting as the job I once had. But I’m not satisfied.
There are a number of factors for this situation. I’m not financially secure at all. I have no savings, no retirement capability and an extreme amount of debt. You all have heard me discuss this time and time again on this blog. Honestly, it’s one of the three major reasons I struggle with my sobriety so much. Although there are a lot of problems with my situation, I have always had the belief that a job that lacks passion will never make you feel like the money you make is worth the effort. And, quite simply, I am no longer passionate about my career, I am no longer interested in the industry I work and I hate waking up and going to work.
Everything distracts me while I am working. And, like my attempts at sobriety, I find myself literally shaking with frustration. I want to be happy about what I do and I want financial security too. And the older I get, the more frustrating it feels that neither one of those will happen. I feel all the roadblocks that can possibly occur in trying to find a new path in life and I feel like my time on this planet to pay off my debts and reestablish savings and retirement are quickly dwindled.
And yet, I still ponder dreams of a different life. Below, I’m going to offer some brief thoughts and some of the paths I have considered walking – even if they aren’t serious. I’ve also offered some of the reasons I don’t know that they are ever going to be a reality for me. But, it is still nice to dream.
- A professional writer. Every once in a while, I receive a compliment about my writing. Sometime people tell me here and sometimes people tell me in Twitter that I am a good writer. Granted, I feel I’m a lot better than that professor indicated when I was a freshman in college, but I am super sensitive and self-critical when it comes to writing. Shoot, I even started a short story on here that I have never gotten back to finishing. Sometimes, I feel like my writing is boring, uninteresting and unintelligible. Of course, I can’t even imagine making money from doing it. I have even written a fair share of poetry, but maybe there is a reason a lot of poets read their own work from a coffee shop or do it for spare change, huh? I’ve even wondered what I would be like as a professional blogger, doing some sort of investigative work into the evils of society. But, when it comes down to it, I feel like it’s all so far fetched.
- A scientific researcher. When I’m really fed up with my job, I often make the joking statement, “I should have been an astrophysicist”, but there is some element of truth in me writing that statement. When I first became interested in science, it had a tremendous amount to do with my love of astronomy. I was 5 or 6 years old, when I remember first beginning to ask questions of my dad or teachers or anyone who would tell me the secrets of the heavens. Of course, this led to me eventually taking an interest in chemistry. I earned my B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering & Petroleum Refining, and always saw myself doing something related to science. Even while I was finishing my undergraduate education, I had the opportunity to work for my academic advisor in his research lab (I won’t name the lab, because it could lead back to me, and I’m pretty protective of my identity due to not being out about my sexuality). I’ve always been interested in science, scientific discovery and understanding the world around us. Truthfully, however, I feel like my interests in science and the eventual career field I entered were related, I also felt that I had other interests in obtaining a degree in engineering. Of course, now I feel trapped, burdened and have no clue how to escape. It’s hard to convince different industries to hire you when you’ve only worked in one industry for 15 years. Making that transition seems almost impossible. I tried about 2 years ago, and although I was excited about working in a different industry, the position I had was neither scientifically related nor was it paying very much – I took a 40% pay cut to take the job. Honestly, I have so many interests with science related careers, but many of my interests will not put me in a position of any financial success or security in the short term. I could build myself up in a new industry, but what impact would it have on my family, from a financial standpoint, if I were to do that? Even as I write about it, I feel my blood boiling and my body shake, because there is so much about this I can’t control or make happen and I feel like I get no chance.
- A data analyst. A couple of years ago, I began a M.S. (non-thesis based) degree in an online program. I missed working with numbers and using data and interpreting data that I felt this would be a spring board to a new possible career choice. The problem is that my experience here has been spotty – if I would have done the program straight through, I would be finished already. But I have been away from the program for almost a year as it is and I am not quite sure I want to pursue it anymore – primarily because it’ll require me to continue getting student loans and I am already burdened by my student loan debt. Quite honestly, I just don;t see this being the big opportunity I had hoped, because of the financial impact it’ll put on my shoulders. And again, how easily will any new industry accept me into a new role. And, I am just utterly unsure about my ability to remember anything I have already learned.
- A return to law enforcement. I’ve mentioned before that I am an ex-cop. But, I’m not so sure I would be any good at this anymore. I know when I did this job, I absolutely loved it and I have often told people that it was the best career I ever had. But at the time I left law enforcement, I had a lot of issues going on in my life that I felt were of paramount importance and me being a cop was not helping the matter. I had lost my brother to suicide. My marriage was in shambles (sadly, it still struggles quite a bit), and I was trying to find a financially secure way to provide for my family. I left law enforcement to be closer to my parents, to go back to school and to try and convince my wife I loved her. Some of these worked out well and some of them didn’t, but I have still flirted with the idea of going back to law enforcement. And, honestly, I think my biggest hang-ups are the fact that law enforcement has changed and I feel like my values and idealistic thoughts have changed. But I feel it’s the kind of job that is focused on other people and not on myself.
- a bum. Yes, sitting on a street corner with a sign has crossed my mind.
The reality of my life is that I don’t know at this point I am able to transition to anything different. I know I hate where I’m at and that change is a painful process, but I also want to make sure I am making the best decision possible. Growing up, my dad used to advise, “It doesn’t matter what decision you make; whatever decision you make, you make it the right decision.” But sometimes, I don’t really know if that is feasible. But I do know I need to make something happen. I need a cause and it needs to be fulfilling.