Pondering Transition

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.

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16 thoughts on “Pondering Transition

  1. When I was a young scrap of a lad, I wanted to be a biochemist – I love science (and still do) and it put me on the college prep path in school when many of my peers were more about learning a trade. What did I get an associate’s degree in when I went to college? Computer Science! Before I got my big break so I could put my degree to work, I did all kinds of jobs, from driving a cab to being a line cook in several restaurants but I never gave up my goal of securing that IT job.

    Then I finally got it and I spent the next 21 years doing it and getting my BS in IT Technologies as well as several Microsoft certifications. I had my dream job and my dream career and when I got fed up with the politics of corporate work, I retired.

    In those 21 years, I thought about changing careers several times and even becoming a consultant – those guys were making money hand over fist but, nah, while I made decent money, I didn’t feel such a change would be a good one because I needed to be able to work every day without having to go from assignment to assignment and similar to what I had to do when I worked for temp agencies.

    In the meantime, a lot of my peers and even family members were changing jobs like they change their underwear and even the two family members who had MBAs often found themselves unemployed because they’d quit a very good job in the hopes of getting a much better one – and that didn’t happen.

    One of them asked me why I put up with the day to day drudgery of my chosen profession and I’d tell them that unlike them, I had a mission: Do the very best I could do for myself and my family and that meant sticking with a job and career path that often failed to meet my needs and, being catty, I pointed out to them that at least I had a job and a career… and they didn’t.

    My job was fulfilling and full of stress and while I often felt that I was slaving away dealing with computer systems and for some folks at home who didn’t seem to appreciate my efforts, I stuck with it, not just because of my mission but because not everyone gets to do the “job of their dreams” and not everyone who tries to change horses in the middle of the stream do so successfully. So the secondary mission was to stay the course; do the best that I could with what I had to work with and if there was something I couldn’t get done, don’t spend a lot of time stressing about it; skip it, and go on to the next thing.

    One of the most important lessons I learned is that once you make a decision, you stick with it and it’s like being married – for better or worse. The other thing I learned is that other thing isn’t as dyed-in-the-wool as it seems to be – if you can effect a change when one is called for, then do it. I had decided, at the beginning of my career – and as I watched people come and go from plum positions and because they wanted more – that the moment my job stopped being fun for me to do, it was time to go – it just took me 21 years for it to stop being a lot of fun.

    I didn’t need my job and career to give me a purpose – it was a tool that served to help me toward my goal – to do the best I could do for myself and my family and for long as I could do it. Even though I wound up getting divorced from my wife of 32 years, I never forgot the most important goal of all and the one I call Rule Number One: Take care of your own ass first; anything other than that is truly of secondary concern and if that means standing in front of the fan while the shit is flying, put on some foul weather gear with a face shield and stand as tall as you can against the shit storm life is going to send your way.

    The cause is always a damned good one: No matter what you do, keep your ass alive and able to do… whatever. Because the alternatives tend to suck big time and not in a good way. And if there are, ah, other people involved, well, it’s like this: If you’re not gonna be a part of the solution, don’t be part of the problem and more so when I’m very sure you’re not gonna like how I deal with the problem. So many people have just one chance to do what they have to do; some are fortunate to change jobs and even make more money.

    And there are so many other people that if it wasn’t for bad luck, they wouldn’t have any luck at all. One of the things that helped me get through the trials and tribulations was understanding that if I thought I had it bad – and many, many times that’s exactly how I felt – there was someone out there somewhere who had it a lot worse than I did… and if I didn’t want things to be worse, I had to keep at it and no matter how I felt about it because if I didn’t, my primary missions and goals would fail.

    And failure is never an option.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I know the feeling all too well and as I wrote, it’s what led to my retirement. The thing is that unless and until one can retire, ya still gotta hang in there and keep fighting the good fight even if against all odds; one can change jobs but the mission – the cause – is still the same, isn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oohhh I can SO relate to this!! I’m feeling so unbelievably restless and frustrated. I have two passions: writing and making jewellery. So if I could wave a magic wand I would have a she-shed in the garden with a desk in one corner and a jewellery workshop set up for melting metal, hammering, drilling, setting stones, creating…. And magically making a living from the two.

    Question: WHAT IS STOPPING ME?

    Answer: ME.

    Jeez, I hate it! There is nothing stopping me from pursuing my writing. Hell, I’m here writing now, on my own blog and commenting on others like now. Why am I not working on that first almost complete draft of a novel? Go figure. And although I don’t have a permanent workshop, I have all the tools I need and plenty of metal and glittering stones to create a vast variety of jewellery. I can without sacrifice in other areas dedicate a couple of hours every day to these passions and if I did, I might actually approach the magic wand scenario a little bit. Yet I procrastinate. If this, if that, THEN!

    Not saying this is your problem but could really relate to the frustration you express and it got me thinking.

    Oh, and I think you write incredibly well. Do something with that. And then tell me how you went about it so I can get my ass moving too, hahaha!

    Big hugs,

    Anna 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find your post after looking for the transition tag. Guess why? I totally feel the same. Well, not totally, of course. My life situation is different. But I share your feeling of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’ve established some goals and started working towards them. But it feels like it’s gonna take a long time till I get there. If I ever. I hope I will, though. And I’m doing something for it. So I don’t quite know if this comment is helpful. Maybe I just wanted to tell you: I feel your pain. And you are not alone in this. I have no solution. But a lot of compassion for your situation. And I wish you all the best for your own transition into whatever you truly want for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can relate to you on this. I know people will say I’m still young but I don’t really know if there’s an age where you already want to land a job that you really love and could also secure you financially. I want to work in the academe but my college grades are not enough to back me up with that dream. I also want to do research and make a big break in the field of science but I’m slowly doubting that this would happen (I really love Science, so much, that I only planned my future in the field of sciences and research so I’m kinda lost at the moment). However, with my current job, I made some adjustments and considered it good enough. But I still hope that someday I will be able to pursue my dreams that I postponed because there are other things that I need to consider and prioritize at the moment. It’s just nice that because of what you’re going through, you eventually find people who are experiencing the same thing or can somehow relate to you, and it makes you feel less alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sending much love your way and a consideration. Everything you need is already inside of you and it will depend on what you decide. Perhaps when you decide what you really need and want, maybe just maybe some responsibility and financial burdens could be eliminated. I’m sure you already considered it, but I still wanted to mention it. You know I’m your fan and I’m cheering for you. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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