I really appreciated all the comments on My Parachute is the Color of Apathy a few weeks ago. I didn’t formally tally the comments into the “pro-change/take this job and shove it” side versus the “pro-stability/milk the 9-5 for all its benefits while you fulfill yourself in your free time” side, but it seemed pretty evenly split to me.
Since I wrote that post, I’ve been exploring ways of making my current work less of a drain. These are “around the edges” kinds of changes; things like working from home more and actually scheduling a long-overdue vacation.
I hate how long my commute is. For years at work, we’ve been told our office would be moving “soon.” Of course, the date kept slipping. Until it stopped slipping and the early 2012 date became real, became soon.
I estimated the change would shave 10-15 minutes from my one hour commute. That’s 20 to 30 minutes of my day I could have back! Let’s just say I was wholly in favor of this move and looked forward to cleaning my office in the tiny bit of downtime we usually have before the holidays.
A few weeks ago, we received an email with the following subject: “Move Delay.”
I hadn’t even realized how much my fragile little flower of a psyche was depending on this move until I got the official word it’s delayed again. Until 2013…almost two years from now.
Do you remember Marie (Carrie Fisher’s character) in When Harry Met Sally…? How early in the movie, she’s always complaining that she doesn’t think the married man she’s seeing is “ever going to leave” his wife? How Marie’s friends always say, “of course he isn’t,” and Marie always responds, “You’re right, you’re right. I know you’re right,” but still doesn’t break it off with him?
I ask because a voice saying “your office is never going to move and it won’t make any real difference anyway” went through my head as I read the “Move Delay” email. And the next thing that popped into my head was (because I talk to myself!), “You’re right, you’re right. I know you’re right.” But, like Marie in the movie, I wasn’t ready to act on that knowledge.
I’m not saying staying in my job is as dumb as dating a married man. I’m simply saying I can identify with Marie’s inertia.
Marie didn’t really believe the married man would leave his wife. She was probably just afraid of being alone. Maintaining the relationship she already had in hand was easier than the upheaval of breaking it off, of having to think about what she really wanted, of having to do something potentially scary to get it.
I’ve never been a big risk taker, but I used to be more adventurous than I am now. The choices I’ve made as an adult have been informed by a desire to guard against uncertainty and upheaval. But I’ve also been incredibly lucky not to have experienced any uncertainty or upheaval during years when the economy hasn’t always been so solid. I got a secure job in my field directly out of school with good pay and great benefits. In 15 years, I’ve never been forced to make a change.
So I’ve been lucky. But ironically, I have started to wonder if maybe some uncertainty and upheaval might not have been all bad. Maybe it would have forced me to think harder about what I wanted, might possibly have led to a more fulfilling career. Perhaps the lack of external pressure has made me soft, made my adaptation muscles atrophy.
The best thing about having my post Freshly Pressed by WordPress was hearing your stories. Margaret, at Figuring Out Fulfillment, has a great story. I’m very excited to have a guest post from her this Wednesday so she can share it! Margaret chose some upheaval for herself. In addition, the dot-com bust around the time she started her career didn’t let her get too comfortable.
Be sure to come back on Wednesday to hear Margaret’s inspiring story.