Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm in a Mood

The reality is that there isn't a five-days-a-week-in-the-office job that would make me really happy.

The reality is that I'm not going anywhere any time soon.

The reality is that working from home didn't make me happy either.

The reality is that I'm apparently not especially easy to please.

The reality is that waiting for my life to be the way I want it to be means all I ever do is wait.

The reality is that I'm not even sure what waiting for my life to "be the way I want it to be" even means.

The reality is that I'm restless and distracted and ineffective.

The reality is that I have to learn to live within my reality, and that reality is here, now.

The reality is that I have no idea what that means, either.

Reality bites.


Emily said...

We are similar. I'm embarrassed about how difficult it is to satisfy me, especially jobwise. There is without question no 5-days-a-week office full-time (or even part-time) office job that's gonna leave me feeling anything but dread every single morning. I hate that feeling you express of being stuck...of not going anywhere any time soon. I, too, am very difficult to please, being hypercritical and demanding.

I find myself feeling restless and distracted almost every day, and I'm currently HAPPY with the work I have. Happier than I've ever been, and it's for the best and the stupidest of reasons: I learn something new every single day, and I don't have to put on clothes to do it.

All this biographical information is to say, I'm with you, sister. Edgy, distracted, wanting something--what is it?--else, something more. I *think* what I want is a quiet life of writing, reading, editing, on my own time, in my own home or place of my choosing, wearing nothing binding. While I have the writing and editing and reading part, the quiet part is, I think, what I'm waiting for. And the thing is, when I've got that, I'll probably miss what I have now.

Niksmom said...

Oh, Emily hit the nub of it in her last paragraph. At least, for me. While Nik was in school I hated not having him home. Now he's home (older and so much more, um, "active") I realize i can't homeschool and have a life and take care of myself, try to get back into the workforce or write... and...and...and... I feel like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. Yep, reality bites.

TC said...

Oh, bingo, Emily. Niksmom is right; you got it in the last paragraph. That's exactly what I was feeling, and why I wrote this.

It's funny. I went to a reading tonight (I'll try to write about that tomorrow), and on the way home I was thinking that what I'd written today was just self-indulgent and made me look like a brat and I should just delete it, and then I saw the comments from you two and realized that, at the very least, I have comrades in brattiness! (I kid! I kid! I kid because I love.)

Meg said...

You have many comrades in brattiness. Although not a writer, reality bites is real to me and common for many working moms. Part of it is being pulled in too many directions between work and home and not having enough time to decompress between the two. I feel like my to-do list is constant and ever-growing and I don't have the added concerns of special ed and IEPs for my kids.

As my kids get older (youngest is an Aug '97 like Em), the stakes get higher in some ways. Although I no longer have to remind them to put on their shoes, I am still "in charge" of reminders, wake-up calls, homework oversight, rides and parental control. It is harder now that hugs and "play with me mom" are rare. However, when that was the constant refrain, I found it overwhelming. I know I miss some aspects of having little kids, but not others.

I work part-time with a lot of flexibility. But I don't "love" what I am doing. I know I wouldn't have loved being home full-time with young kids. I know have the best of both worlds, but I still felt stressed and unhappy at times, both with the juggling, the lack of free time and the view that I could have done something better or more important.

I know that living the life I have makes me one of the more privileged people on the entire planet, yet I still can't let go of the "something else", the perfect life that only exists in my mind. I am trying, to butcher the words of Stephen Stills: "love the one you've got".

Anonymous said...

To carry over the lyrical theme, I think this is why the Stones song: "You Can't Always Get What You Want" speaks to me on every level: motherhood, career, marriage, life...

I often wonder if we are just pre-wired to be restless, unsatisfied, unable to settle in and enjoy the lives we have. I don't know the answer, just that you aren't a brat and that most women can relate to this on some level... I'm betting the men can too.

po said...

I think we all suffer from '70s Girl Power Syndrome: we were smart girls who were told (and this was revolutionary) that we could be whatever we wanted to be. Well naturally, we wanted to be happy, and fulfilled, and dang, that didn't quite work out the way we had hoped. Because however your time is split between working for cash money and caring for your kids, you're not always going to feel happy and fulfilled. You're going to wonder, "Is THIS my life? Is this IT?"

It's a luxury, though, to be able to wonder and fret about these things. A lot of moms spend every waking moment just trying to keep themselves and their kids alive. That was the norm for much of human history, a fact that I try to remind myself whenever I'm feeling bratty.

But somehow it does not break me out of MY mood. You're certainly entitled to yours!

Emily said...

TC, it's funny you say "brat" because I often think of myself as one. I'm an embodiment in some ways of a "first-world problems."

I think that what keeps me happiest is change. And that's why, if things aren't changing, I'm not happy. That's all there is to it.

My husband is the exact opposite. He's happiest with stability. All he wants is a good job, good insurance, being able to support his people. He likes to travel, etc., but he needs to know that bedrock of stability is there. I, on the other hand, would pack us all into an Airstream tomorrow, sell everything else, and take off.

Good thing I've got the Viking. you have that kind of balance? I think change-seekers need the balance of stability-seekers.

TC said...

I'm actually the stability-seeker, Emily; I hatehatehatehate change. I hate unpredictability. I am not only a brat, but a very boring brat.

I think that's a key part of my dissatisfaction with my current situation: Not only do I not necessarily like where I am, but I also don't like the idea of what it would take to change that. As it is, a good part of my issue with it all is that things at work keep changing--my hours shift, my responsibilities shift, and it takes me months, if not years, to catch up to that internally.

Same emotional result, different internal conflict.


Emily said...

Oooh. I get it. That's just how Viking would feel...and does when I start talking about big changes. All of our big changes have me behind them. Maybe you need me to come live there for a week, bug the crap out of you, arguing that to move forward, we've GOT to do something different...and you'll be so desperate to get me to shut up, you'll make a move.

More seriously, I do understand how untenable it is to have an unpredictable job and an unpredictable schedule when you've got children, especially special needs children and many appointments, meetings, etc.

It is interesting that the internal conflicts can be so different, yet the outcome is so similar.

My WV is pillazed. I think that pretty accurately describes the emotional outcome here.

Anonymous said...

I'm in kind of the same boat - have a boring unsatisfying job where I don't get a lot of respect, but I want to work/like the stability that goes along with having a good salary and insurance and all that stuff. I have other things I'd like to do but nothing so compelling that I'm willing to really go for it.

I mostly just vent to my boss about how much my job sucks and that makes me feel a teeny bit better LOL. And who knows, someday I'll probably get fired as a result and forced to try something new!


Hilary said...

Thanks for the tweet to check this out TC. I'm there with you - and the commentors. I agree with everything that's been written here.

I talk about my cushy government job and in many ways it really is - I have lots of flexibility both in terms of time spent at work & what I choose to work on, but I still wish I was doing something else. What else is anybody's guess.

But to add to it, I feel like such a failure career-wise. After getting laid off from two much better paid private sector jobs in two years, I convinced myself that taking a low level staffer position with a government agency would make me happy. It's not as well paid, but that would be more than offset by the lower stress levels. What I didn't consider was the self-imposed stress I give myself.

I'm at an age where many of my peers are managers or directors - The Boss. I'm in a one step above entry level position with a boss who is 10 years younger than me and doesn't miss the opportunity to remind me that he is The Boss. He's oftentimes unjustifiably arrogant about his own abilities and highly defensive if you challenge him. I look at him and wonder what he's done so right and what I've done so wrong. So I end up rubbing my own nose in my failure to be a success at my age.

But I cannot and will not let on to my daughters how I feel. I never ever want them to think they can't manage a career (notice I didn't write "successful career") and have a family and a life.

So yeah. Meh. It all piles up and it's SO complicated. I try to tell myself that I won't get laid off and I should just come in and do my job and collect my paycheck. But I want more than that. I'm just having a hell of a time figuring out how to figure out what that "more" is.

TC said...

(The advantage of knowing many of your readers personally is that you can call them on their stuff...)

But, Hilary! Weren't you just PRESIDENT of your professional organization? I know that on a day-to-day the attitude of a boss can really work on you, but I don't think that saying you haven't been successful--or that you aren't thought of as someone relevant and contributing to your field--is actually accurate.

That's one of the few things I DON'T fret about--my 'level' at work. I keep telling my boss that I'm the best person to have under him, because I'd quit before I'd take on his job. I don't want the headaches. I like taking orders. (I think that's why he likes me.)

On the other hand, I do look at some of my ubersuccessful former colleagues from magazines like Discover and want to weep, so actually I'm being hypocritical; I don't want to be the head PR person at the university, but I am envious of my friends' abilities to make a success at freelancing and to be well-known and respected in journalism.

So, nevermind. ;-)

Niksmom said...

I had to chuckle as I read Emily's description of herself & her husband; that could me & mine to the letter! He gets so antsy when I even start to just "fantasize out loud" about "what-ifs."

Anonymous said...

My situation is slightly different than what you guys are describing.

What I've realized thru a writing/self class I've been taking is that I'm actually fairly satisfied with how things are going, but I feel like I'm supposed to want things to be different. Like I'm supposed to miss working, or I'm supposed to want to love all the home-related stuff (like landscaping and decor) that it seems like other homeowners care so much about.

My dissatisfaction and subsequent unhappiness comes from thinking that I'm caring about the wrong stuff.

How freakin' dumb is THAT?

I figured out that if I can just tune out the voices around me and in my head - that life is OK. I'm actually not jonesing for change (for once). And that's OK. In fact, it's a damn-near miracle.

Leightongirl said...

Oh the "supposeds! I'm supposed to be more successful, more ambitious, better paid, and, yes, HAPPIER. What if in reality I'm supposed to be antsy, craving change, in a permanent state of transition? In that case, I'm right where I'm supposed to be, I guess. Thanks for the great discussion.

AB said...

Here I am a retiree... never had children, didn't get married until I was 55 and had a job that I actually loved for 39 years. Never ever thought I could be retired... Husband dies, employer dies and the other job that I had part time collapsed when the building was sold.
Could no longer afford NY so here I am in FL... not terribly happy about it, can't find a job because I don't speak Spanish. Here I thought I would be able to get a job in a Drs office as a receptionist (no more CPA offices for me) and they want me to speak Spanish. There is no way I could go back to school and learn it. I did have 3 years of it in school but that was way back in1956/57...
So here I am a couch potato and can tell everyone what is going on in the world, watch the birth of babies for 4 hrs... and play with my cat who really understands commands... here I have the best of all worlds and I am unsatisfied...

I am TC's OLD aunt...and damn proud of it.

Anonymous said...

"Not only do I not necessarily like where I am, but I also don't like the idea of what it would take to change that."

Struggling with this myself. But, at the same time, I know that I'm privileged enough that it's really my responsibility to figure out how to get the life I want.