I will be the first to tell you that NOT having a job is awesome. That said, when you’ve spent the last 13 years of your life at full-time jobs, suddenly NOT having a job feels an awful lot like being a lazy, freeloading bum. (And not in the good way) It’s a hard contradiction to comprehend, let alone explain, but someone else just provided me with the perfect words.
“…it took me about a year to shake the … feeling that I was really just a lazy slacker who should go back and get a real job. While I spent time looking and took on some interesting projects, it was a huge shift from working 60+ hours a week… Compared to that lifestyle, any time I had to take a walk or sit down and read felt like cheating somehow, like I was playing hooky.” – Jodi Sweet
YES! Even cooking dinner for myself and my husband, which is something we would take turns doing when we both had full-time jobs, seems like an indulgence. Somehow the fact that I have the extra time to pick out new, interesting recipes and then put them together at a leisurely pace is tinged with guilt for having that extra time.
To be fair, I’m in a very lucky position, with Adam currently able to support us on his own. But that brings a whole new guilt to the table. If I were single, living on my own, and took this risk, the only person truly affected would be me. As part of a partnership, however, there is a voice in my head telling me that I’m taking advantage and not carrying my own weight. Adam has been very clear that all he wants is for me to find my passion and go after it, with all I have. That’s what I want, too! The difference between us is how we are able to measure success in that endeavor. If writing is my passion (eek! – I wrote it out loud!) then success, to me, would be having my words resonate, inspire, soothe or otherwise touch people that I have never met. I think that Adam believes success will be measured by more quantifiable means. He is a business man through and through, which is motivating, inspiring and downright fascinating to me. Since the things that drive us are different, it is sometimes difficult for me to discern whether Adam is happy with his work and his job. I suppose that it only makes sense that he would then have trouble determining whether I am happy with the things I’m doing.
This could quickly devolve into a Mars vs. Venus piece, and the dramatically different ways in which men and women communicate. That’s just not the point.
(What IS the point?)
Perhaps the point is that changing your life, even in a way that seemed to be exactly what you wanted, is filled with just as much doubt as relief. And self-doubt is scary. It can be easy to give in and go back to set of known variables. Even if those variables are distasteful, at least you know what you’re getting into, what you’re dealing with. There’s a sense that it was your own decision to lie in that particular bed. Whereas the alternative is more like not being sure where, or if, you will find a bed.
Since starting this post, I took time away from the piece to think over what I wanted to say, and the things I wanted to get across. Coming back, it finally became clear to me why something seemed to be missing. There was a nagging feeling that I should be able to close with a solution. A catch-all. Something that wrapped the doubt and concern into a neat package and shipped it away. Then I finally realized, and admitted, that can’t be done. The best I can do, right now, is simply acknowledge the worries, but keep moving forward anyway. That, in itself, brings a bit of peace with it.
So today I’m not a slacker, I’m working towards my passion. Success (in whatever form that may be) will not come overnight, but I’m taking steps in the right direction. Whatever bed I end up in, I will sleep a little more soundly tonight.