In this moment…hitting a wall, a plaster wall

It could be hormones, it could that the cold long days of winter are finally settling in or it could simply be reality. I strive to stay in a positive state of mind but for some reason today after getting the mail and receiving my W2 form, my mood has plummeted to ground zero. It’s not as if I didn’t know that I am grossly underpaid for what I do, that’s really no surprise, after all I am the one who does the budget for my agency. We have grown, our budget has grown but we simply aren’t at the place yet where my salary can be increased to be more in line with industry standards. Unless I want to give up all semblance of having a life and do my job and someone else’s which logistically isn’t possible. Trust me, I thought about this during the most recent budget season.

Standing on the cusp of what feels like a milestone birthday, I find myself wondering is there an age where following one’s bliss is simply foolish? Sure, stories abound about people who have made epic life changes at 40 and beyond but is there a point where those stories are just stories with odds slightly better than a winning Powerball ticket?

I attended a gathering recently where I ended up in a serious conversation with a man I know who is a little bit older than me. He told me that the greatest thing for him about being in his 40’s, was learning to accept what he was really capable of and making peace with life as it is. That conversation has stayed with me because on the surface while I was agreeing with him, part of me was wondering could I truly get to that place myself. A place where I accept that the trade-off for working as I do; is that I do truly meaningful work that makes a difference in the lives of many yet the financial rewards are little. At the same time, I have the work/life balance that suits me well, something that I don’t take for granted at all.

The past few years I have done a great deal of work around acceptance but I admit when it comes to money, I get tripped up. Money matters, too much of it can corrupt, but too little of it can make life hard. I see that daily in my work. Then I start to feel guilty when I throw what in essence is a private pity party. After all, I have a house that is brimming with love and all our needs are met. When so many suffer and struggle with getting their bare needs met, it feels shitty to even be discussing this. I mean is seeing my dad a necessity? Is seeing my family and friends a true need? Is it selfish to even worry about retirement when my genetic pool doesn’t favor my living much past 60?

Recently I received the most encouraging message from a new reader who also happens to be someone whose encouragement early in my academic career made me realize what was possible if I dared. Yet in this moment, despite all that I have been working towards with regards to growing my dream of writing into something more than a hobby, I have hit a wall. However as dire as this may all seem, I am going to trust that this wall is made of plaster and not drywall and will simply take a little extra strength to knock down. In the meantime while I am battling with this plaster, I will strive to keep passing the open windows since the alternative is probably not so pleasant.

I realize that posts such as this may seem almost too personal for posting in such an open manner but one thing I strive for here is honesty. I suspect that I am not the only one who grapples with such issues yet too often we rarely feel comfortable having these discussions with others and in some cases even with ourselves. So have no fear, I have no shame in getting raggedy and sharing the journey with you.

2 thoughts on “In this moment…hitting a wall, a plaster wall

  1. Forgive me. This will be a long response — I’m not trying to hijack your page, but your post made me sad — for you because I empathize. First, let me say, I feel for you. The conflict from your words on the page is so real. It resonates with me. I’ve been there. I am there. But I don’t intend to be here forever. Second, “following ones bliss” isn’t foolish. What I think is foolish is just jumping out of frying pans into fires without careful thought. For instance…Why would I walk away from my job without making sure I have an “emergency fund” even during the best of times? Why would I walk away from a job if I have mouths to feed other than my own who can’t fend for themselves? Why would I walk away from a job when I haven’t thought of whether I have the skills necessary to launch my own business or find a job in a completely different industry/area?

    I often wonder quietly and out loud: Do we, should we, walk away from the work we love for the almighty dollar? Or, do we stay while struggling (at times) to make it? Do we walk away from jobs if feel we are becoming physically, spiritually and/or emotionally bankrupt? If I knew the answers to these questions, I’d be be making bank, believe me, because I’d have a corner office, charging an hourly rate and working on very steep retainers.

    I remind myself constantly: (1) To a great extent I own my own happiness and direction in this life (2) I’m not living on the street, I have food in my belly, and I have a job (3) Life is too short — I shouldn’t waste it. I’ve lost too many people close to me, who didn’t get a chance to live a lengthy life — gone too soon.. (4) A quote from Anatole France: “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”

    I am at a major career crossroads — and I’ve been here for several years. Yes, several. I’m stuck, and it all comes down to money. Sure, “Mo money, more problems” maybe true, but trust me, if I had more Benjamins, I’d walk away in a heartbeat and take my time to find what I’m looking for — whatever that is, or simply following several of my blisses like traveling to far off places while doing churning out gastronomic-related blog posts.

    I’ve lamented much on my blog and on Twitter about my daily life of work. Reminding myself above the things above are a constant struggle. That’s when I pull out the 23rd Psalm, The Serenity Prayer and Footprints.

    I’ll find my answer and my way I know. One day. I believe you will too. The gentleman you were speaking with has said he’s made peace with life as is. Great for him. To make a statement like that at this point in my life — no way, not while I still have all my faculties and I know in my heart I am still capable of more. Much more.

    Do not give up on your dream! Even if your walls were made of bricks, guess what? They can still be knocked down.

    1. Girl, you didn’t hijack my post. You said some of the very stuff that I often think. While I am wallowing in pity, the fact is I am responsible for other humans, both a 7 yo and my eldest who has another year of college and whom I have a financial responsibility to. I often think of that when people give me advice on what I “should” do.

      On the one hand I am fortunate that I have a partner whose work provides the main entrees and mine provides the sides. This is really the first time in my life that I have stayed at a job even when I was ready to leave. Part of it is I do love what I do, but then there is that money factor. Yet as someone close to me told me a few years ago, sometimes the grown up and right thing to do isn’t always going to be fun and that is very true. I think this is just a season in my life, once my son graduates from college the reality is that will free up a bit of cash. Cash that can be used for some of the things that I mentioned in the post like visiting my family.

      On the one hand while I am bitching, I am also very aware that in this day and age the fact that I can help get my kid through college without him completely selling his soul to Sallie Mae is a blessing. My go to verse is Psalms 34 “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” I trust that this is all for some reason that I simply am not meant to understand at this time.

      In the past I used to jump straight into fires but one too many burns has made me cautious, maybe too cautious, but hey it’s what I am comfortable with at this time.

      Thank you for your words.

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