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Help! I’m Having a Mid-Career Crisis.

You have a job. Perhaps it pays well. It’s an okay job; you don’t hate it but you don’t love it, either. You daydream about another life. One where heels and business suits and hairdryers at 7am are but a distant memory. In this other life, you see yourself in a different career. One that requires you to use your creative self. Does such a thing exist, you ask yourself? And if it does, how do you know if you’re any good and, more importantly, whether it will pay enough for you to still afford Christmas gifts for your friends and family which don’t contain craft glue and pipe cleaners?

These are serious questions that must be answered. Friends with fabulously creative jobs that also pay well are all around me, and they love going to work every day. Curse them and their early self-knowledge. I however, flailed around for a while, kind of like Tom Cruise on a talk show host’s couch, until I just kind of fell into a career; a career in which, if I do say so myself, I do pretty well at. Problem is, I just don’t love it.

I get that some people at 18 know what they want. I was not one of them. At no point did anyone guide me, assist me, encourage me or understand me. I blame well, everyone else. So what if I was a little stubborn and refused to listen to what anyone else had to say? Okay, okay, so it’s really no-one else’s fault but my own. Either way, it’s arse! And I need to make a change. Where to begin?

What does one do in these situations? Ah, google it of course! Apparently everyone on the interweb has an opinion; “You need a plan”, “Just Do it”, “Get Educated”, “Intern for Free”, “Don’t Give it Away for Free”. How am I supposed to work it out when the experts can’t even agree?

I’ve realised that I’ve become very good at talking about changing my career, as opposed to actually doing a whole lot. If I say it out loud enough times, surely it will just happen? Perhaps by talking about it to other people then I’m being held psychologically accountable? Or maybe, if I’m honest, it’s just a lot easier to talk about something than it is to actually do it.

Actually doing it means finding out if I’m any good. Egads! That’s what I’m mostly afraid of I guess. I can hardly ask another successful person in my desired field what they think of my work. That takes a chutzpah I don’t have and I’m too chicken to hear “No”. So I figure the only way to find out is to compare my efforts to those of others who are already doing it. I think I’m doing pretty okay. In comparison. Now, I will admit a certain bias towards my own work but as we’ve already established that can’t be helped. So, am I any good? Check! What’s next?

Am I willing to make sacrifices to get where I want to be? Ummm sacrifices… nobody ever said anything about sacrifices. You’re making me nervous. What are we talking here? A little of my time? The odd Saturday afternoon? No problem!
Those Google boffins suggest something a little more like, weekends & weeknights. In fact, they suggest I use all my spare time practicing and honing and focusing on achieving my goal. Humph! Seems a bit much but I guess it’s doable if I really have to. Spending time on it? Check! As long as we’re not talking monetary sacrifice. I can hardly be expected to go back to being, you know, poor.

Oh, a quick search tells me that I can expect my income to halve. Halve? That’s outrageous. Sacrifice is bullshit. Why can’t I just get what I want without too much effort on my part?

You know what, screw it! Just pass me the hair dryer, a natty coat, a pair of sensible heels and a tiny steel sarcophagus in which to bury my creative self. It’s back to corporate life I go. Hey ho.

This decision doesn’t mean I have to stop talking about it, does it?

words: Kristen Hodges


December 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM Sara said...

Oh Kristen. You just described my predicament to a tee! I feel your pain! I'm not sure I could afford to take a paycut, what with the mortgage and the bills etc but I'd love a creative job that uses my skills and brain and hands...does such a job exist? I make do with being creative in my spare time, but I'm pretty sure a part of me dies everyday I sit in this office...

December 8, 2009 at 1:18 PM Sara said...

well, what do you know, moments after commenting on this post I was called into the boardroom by my CEO and made redundant (not because I was commenting on blogs at work though!) I guess I've been forced into action - fingers crossed I find a new job, maybe even one that I enjoy?! Before I was worried about not using my creative talents and now I'm just worried about the bills...

December 8, 2009 at 8:13 PM Kristen said...

Holy crap Sara!!!!!

There is only one immediate answer - vodka and lots of it.

The rest can wait for another day.

Keep us posted :-)

December 8, 2009 at 10:34 PM lividlili said...

Wow, Sara, that's extraordinary!

I quit my job a few weeks ago cos I hated it, and I thought I'd land another one really quickly (as always). But no, it's actually been a struggle. Still, there's nothing like that fire under your butt to get you looking at new jobs in a new light!

December 9, 2009 at 8:50 AM Fritsky said...

It exists...I found it after being laid off in June. This career is way better than the office, for sure, but it comes with monetary and lifestyle sacrifices. A lot of people aren't prepared for that. Best of luck.

December 10, 2009 at 6:59 PM Sara said...

Thanks for the support and kind words guys! I'm torn between not feeling good enough/capable for some jobs and feeling too good for others.
I have my first interview on monday morning, which is fast, but I think the role will call for my experience than I have. Still, good practise right?
In the meanwhile I shall try to remain positive, use this time to think about what I really want to do and spend some lazy hours working on creative pursuits that were previously reserved for train travel to and from work!
Sucks how many of us are in this predicament. Good luck to everyone!

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