This week, after seven years at my current job, I received an office upgrade. It’s bigger and has windows with a pretty nice view. But the new office is really just another form of “golden handcuffs.” It’s still just a space, inside a building, where I’m supposed to trade years of my life for money. Setting our sights on the goal of early semi-retirement has allowed me to have more peace when it comes to our current situation. However, there are still many days when I still struggle not to say “F*** it,” run away, and never look back.
Life has a way of forcing you to confront juxtapositions. At the same time that I was sitting in my new office this week, Scary Mommy posted a very special piece of mine on their site. I read through the many comments and was so moved by how my writing elicited emotions from other people.
Reading the feedback (on Facebook) gave me so much more satisfaction and joy than my current work. It made me feel far more accomplished than any reward of moving to a bigger office. People wrote about being brought to tears and thanked me for finding the words that captured their thoughts and feelings.
This piece about a mother-in-law who I will never meet, took months to write. I worked on it here and there, only when I could give it the attention and energy it deserved. Yet, Scary Mommy has stopped paying for submissions. Thus, my special tribute represented a significant amount of completely voluntary effort. I might see a small amount of added traffic to this site, for which I might earn a couple of extra pennies. However, being able to touch a stranger’s heart truly feels like reward enough.
Needless to say, I can’t help but wonder what I’m still doing in my current, joyless job. There seems to be so very many advocates out there for following your dreams and not worrying about anything else. Social media is filled with inspirational pictures, quotes, and videos about living life now, while you still can. It’s hard to see all of these messages, telling me what I want to hear, but knowing I can’t act on those urges.
As the war between dreams and responsibilities wages on, my rational side reminds me of why I must continue in my present employment – money. We still have quite a bit of debt and need more assets to fund our dreams for semi-retirement. The only choice I have right now is to continue along this path, no matter what the extrinsic voices say about chasing dreams in the present.
There were some interesting things that had been living in my old desk. One item I came across in cleaning it out, was a brainstorming-type note to myself.
A note from October 2013:
What are my goals?
Right now, it seems that I am constricted by debt – need to make $$$ to alleviate financial pressures.
But how much will that really help? I will still need a job, right?
What do I know?
I don’t like sitting in my office. I waste time and am not productive.
I am most productive at home, at night.
How can I use my time better?
If I complete my work, they won’t care if I’m in the office all of the time? I can do work at home. Is there something else I can do while in the office?
What do I want to do?
I want to write my book. I want to start a blog. I want to spend more time with my kids.
I’ve made progress, which is worthy of some pride and satisfaction. My schedule was successfully tweaked, so that I can take advantage of my more productive times and work from home on occasion. I have been spending more time with my children. And of course, I did start this blog and have kept it going for almost two years. The book referred to in this note is a fiction story that has been, unfortunately, untouched for several years.
I’m left with the realization that my dreams will have to be pursued in bits and pieces of time, at least for now. My continued employment is a necessity, but there is hope. I have identified the goal and will be able to escape from the demands of full-time work far sooner than most other people. And I’ll never stop dreaming, or writing.