One week from tomorrow will be my last day in an uncomfortable chair, staring mindlessly at a computer for hours. Making a decision to change things has taken me more time than I care to admit or even know (maybe a year or more).
Like most college students in America, I left believing I had worked hard for something. That I had worked hard in high school to get in to a good college to work hard to get a good job. I did my interviews on campus, because that is what you do. I interviewed and fretted and couldn’t believe recruiters weren’t pushing each other over to hire ME. When I got my offer, I jumped up and down, I was moving to Houston and I was employed. I spent the next two weeks buying work clothes.
Then I started my job. When I started working and looked around and saw all the people who worked there, all the people who come every day, and all the people who have been coming everyday for 20 years, I FREAKED OUT. This was it? This is what I worked so hard for? I wasn’t using any of my good ‘ol college learning, I was learning systems and an industry I had never knew existed.
It was difficult to perceive how my work experience was compared to that of others. When I graduated, my friends were still in school. I had no close friends to compare experiences with and I didn’t know if all offices were like mine or completely different. I started working 8-4 (with usually an extra hour or so tacked on). Eventually my friends started getting jobs and then I got bumped and began working 11-7. While working 8-4, I was able to meet people for dinner or drinks and go to the gym regularly. When my schedule changed I couldn’t get basic errands done, my gym attendance dwindled and it was hard to find anyone who wanted to have dinner at 7:30. Work made me miserable. I knew it, but I didn’t. I complained, but didn’t really see that I had a choice. I often talked about making a change, but was too scared to initiate any kind of life movement and I just didn’t know what to do.
This past May, my brother and I drove from Orlando to San Antonio. (The week before the trip was probably the worst work week I’d ever had at the office, so that helped things a long as well). Spending a week with a recent college graduate reminded me of the ideals I had just two years ago. I couldn’t believe how much I had changed in just two years. Mostly, I didn’t like how I had changed. I have developed skills in dealing with angry clients and explaining financial documents. I don’t like angry people and I sure as hell do not like financial documents.
In one week I am leaving my job to pursue something with more meaning. I observed my friend Christine’s classroom, her fiance’ Justin’s classroom, Mrs. Oswalt’s kiddos, and several classes in one of my mother’s favorite schools all in May and June. These people showed me more about themselves that I expected to see and about the job they love. Teachers have a hard job, but they make a difference, they have purpose and meaning to their careers. They laugh. They have the joy of watching a child read and knowing they helped get him there. I have a long way to go, but I’m doing something. Change has been initiated and I can say I haven’t felt this happy in two years.
So let the countdown begin. 7 days.