At The Crossroads Without a Map

At The Crossroads Without a Map

Currently, I feel like I’m standing at a crossroads, with a sign as helpful as the one above, without a map. And in all honesty it’s a struggle. I don’t intend to sound as dramatic as this does, but in March everything changed for me, not a single part of my life, bar my home (for that I am grateful) stayed the same and I have been floating in limbo ever since. I lost my job, my hobbies stopped, my community responsibilities changed drastically and any semblance of a sense of purpose went with south with them and now I have no idea a) what I want, b) how to get there or c) how to cope with the complete lack of stability that it’s causing.

I know, I know, very dramatic, but it’s also the truth, it just doesn’t present itself in quite such a dramatic way until you say it out loud or write it down. I am feeling hopelessly lost at the moment. It’s mainly stemming from the lack of job, because much as I don’t like it being the case, a job takes up most of my waking hours when I have one, and therefore the rest of my routine/structure gets built around it. That is not a concept I have ever enjoyed, but ultimately we live in a [disaster] capitalist society and much as I love the thought of rebelling against it, I am not made of strong enough stuff to be able to forge a path where my work doesn’t define a huge chunk of my life.

Unless I just stop working, but that doesn’t really feel like an option either. Yes, we have survived these 8 months without me working, there’s not huge amounts left for ‘fun’ spending rather than necessity but we are in a good position, and for that I am truly grateful. It does, however, seem both lazy on my part and unfair on my Husband to just live off his income, without any contribution and without any good reason for not contributing. Yes, the complete lack of pressure has been nice, but it’s getting a bit boring and I would like to be able to a) prove my worth, to myself more than anything and b) bring in some income for the nice things, the time we go ‘we should probably get ‘X thing’, (usually useful item I hasten to add) at some point when we have some spare cash’ and those days seem to never come to fruition. And I am very aware how privileged that makes me, painfully aware, but it doesn’t stop it being true.

Most of the problem stems from not knowing what I want to do. I really, truly have no ambition to be ‘this’ or ‘that’ or do ‘x’ or ‘y’. And I hate that. I feel totally uninspired and totally uninspiring, I have worked in a range of jobs so far and also done a range of volunteering roles that have meant I have the skills to do a range of things, therefore I could pursue various avenues if I wanted to, but working out which one will make me happy (which I have learnt is so important at work), or at least happy enough to keep going, is hard because none of the roles in which I could go down based on my skills hugely appeal. I think it’s safe to say, I have never been career focussed, being the top of a company or having ‘X’ profession has just never, ever been my passion. I don’t know what my passion is instead, but it’s not that. Which means it is hard now to say “I want to go and do ‘that'”.

I’ve fallen into all of my previous roles and although I have enjoyed some, especially my last role, which unfortunately there aren’t many avenues in unless you have qualifications (more about that later), there are some I have definitely not ended up enjoying and there are some that ended in ways I wish they hadn’t. Ultimately, I am also unsure because I am scared. I am so painfully scared of starting another job and a) not enjoying it, b) not being able to do well in it, even though I now have a better understanding on where some of my workplace struggles stem from and c) the combination of the above destroying the thin sliver of career confidence I have left.

Before starting my previous role, I was in a pretty bad place career-wise, I had left two jobs I was really struggling in and started my previous role terrified of doing the same again. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, I had an incredibly supportive manager and worked for a nice company who supported me, my health problems and my confidence in a way that I will always be truly, truly grateful for. But I know I was lucky, previous experience has taught me this isn’t usually the case and with another recession coming (here? I don’t know if it’s started or not, I’m no economist but between Brexit and a pandemic I know things are going south) and the likelihood of more jobs being cut and the pressure being mounted on all employees to work way beyond there capacity without complaint or consequence (can you tell I’ve been here before…?!) I am terrified of going backwards instead of forwards. I would like to be able to come home from work a) happy, b) without having to keep working and c) without having to worry about work and what I’ll go back to the next day but so far life has laughed in my face when I’ve wanted that, all bar the 10 months I spent in my previous role.

I also nearly destroyed all my career confidence by hitting ‘self-destruct’ in the summer too, when I tried to set up my own Virtual Assistant business. Essentially, the idea is sound and there are plenty of people making a go of it in that role, providing a range of administration/PA services to companies/individuals as a paid-for, external service. I had everything set up and I am still proud with how much I managed to set up in a short space of time, but when it came to finding work, I crumbled. Now, the odds were stacked a little against me, as I was trying to find work in the height of a pandemic, with companies that were probably not wanting to start spending extra money right now etc, but ultimately, I found out the hard way I am not very good at either selling myself or directing myself. I have the general idea, but if I don’t know where to start I flounder like a dying fish, it’s almost spectacular to watch. I have found that to work best, I need clear instructions and manageable tasks, turns out I have absolutely no ability to provide those things to myself. Could I have tried harder to make this business a success? Well, yes, I could. Would I have spent many more days sat trawling Linked In with zero idea where to start, because all the information about setting up as a VA told me Linked In was the best place to be? Also yes. It probably doesn’t help that I really don’t like Linked In. It’s just a pretentious, ‘look at me doing well at my career’ version of Facebook and I can’t stand it, but I was willing to try and work out how to make it work for me and all I was doing was crying and swearing. After a while I decided I valued my mental health that I had worked hard to keep intact through 10 weeks of isolation and that at least for now, this was not my calling. I’m not proud of giving up, in fact this is the first time I’ve really admitted it out loud to more than a handful of people, but I am glad that I put my health first.

My little knitting business with Mum is doing well, but the harsh reality of that is, it’s never going to pay enough for it to be worthwhile as a main job. I am trying to do more with it, but I struggle with motivation as I try and balance between putting all my effort into it, for very little return and trying to keep it a manageable amount of work to fit around another role when I eventually find one. I am still doing a bit of knitting at the moment, but I think I also managed to burn myself out in the run up to Christmas where I was trying to make it a viable job.

Ultimately, if I had to say ‘I’d really like to do this one specific thing’, I think it would be writing about Country Music. It would give me an opportunity to combine my writing ability (if you can call rambling on the internet that) and my love of music and the specific genre I enjoy most. But this also feels unattainable, most places would expect a) experience or b) qualifications and of that I have neither. And I have absolutely no desire to get the qualifications that would allow me to gain the experience. I didn’t hate school, but I found education hard, especially my degree. I now understand why my ADHD was making things difficult for me and why I had the struggles I did, but it’s been 6 years since I left education and the thought of going back to it, the pressure, the deadlines etc still send a chill through my bones. The thought of crying over essays and trying to revise for exams makes me still want to hurl and I am not putting myself through that again. Especially as I would probably have to learn a hell of a lot about things I am not interested in, in the world of journalism/writing, just to be able to tell a small internet website that I liked but didn’t love the latest Morgan Wallen album. And with the dying art of print media, the innumerous number of people trying to do the same thing online and the stiff competition from Youtube, again I am not sure that it’s where I’m meant to be. It’s true though, I did like but not love the latest Morgan Wallen album, for anyone who’s interested…

So I find myself here, scared of well, everything. Failing, mainly. Scared of jeaopardising my mental and physical health, scared of not doing well at anything, scared of making choices in case they are the wrong one, again. I know that if I made a choice and it was the wrong one, I would still learn something from it, I have learnt from all of my experiences so far, but I have also learnt that those lessons come at a price. The price is usually a lot of crying, a lot of stress and a lot of gut wrenching worry and more than anything I don’t want to pay that price again. I was in a semi-constant state of struggle and worry about these things from starting my GCSEs in around 2007 to 2019 when I finally found a job I loved, forgive me for not wanting to risk doing it all over again.

I know things will change eventually, they will have to because I can’t spend the next 12 years rooted to the spot either, but right now I am just scared of my future becoming a lot like my past. So I’m going to write blogs about it and continue to have no idea for some time longer. If nothing else, the past two week’s church services have been about making decisions and it’s probably gonna help if I watch those, they seem quite pertinent right now but as usual, I haven’t quite got round to it, so if you want me for the next couple of hours I’ll be on the sofa, catching up on Church.

4 thoughts on “At The Crossroads Without a Map

  1. I totally understand how you’re feeling in terms of not knowing where to direct yourself in your career and having a ton of skills that mean you can do pretty much anything, but having no idea how to combine them into something you actually WANT to do. I have been there all my life, too. My suggestion to you, for the short term, is to spend time writing here about country music. Write about the music you love, the musicians you find interesting. You never know whether it might get some traction and get you started toward that career professionally writing about it. You might also consider starting a podcast about country music. You’d be amazed how easy it can be to get artists to join you on a podcast to talk about themselves. If you are passionate in what you do, other people respond to it. I say this having done a good deal of podcasting myself. It has provided me with a network of creative people I never imagined I would have access to. So, while you’re looking for your next job, also devote time to your passions, because those are what will bring you joy and may turn into more than seems possible. It’s worth a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Sorry it took me so long to approve your comment. I read it at the time when the email came through and haven’t logged on since. I can’t tell you how nice it was to hear such an uplifting and empathetic comment, it brought happiness at a time when I was running out.

      Turns out one sentence rather stuck out and I thought you’d like to know that my new Country Music podcast is launching next week. It was something I had toyed with the idea of before, but seeing it suggested by someone else was the kick I needed and I have had such a happy and fun week planning, prepping, recording, editing and setting up online.

      I can’t thank you enough!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah!!! That’s AWESOME!!! Welcome to the wonderful world of podcasting! I hope you find great success with it and get some really amazing guests. Reach out to everyone you’d like to talk with! What case, that say no or just ignore the invite. No big deal. But, some will say yes and you’ll have a great conversation and start building your network! I can’t wait to see where you go with this!

        Liked by 1 person

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