EDITORS NOTE: This blog post is the first in a series, intended to celebrate Embracing Ambiguity reaching the 50 post milestone. In response to a recent post, Embracing Ambiguity received an email response that asked a lot of great and challenging questions. To celebrate a year and a half of existence, and our 50th post, various authors will be responding to these questions over the next week. In general, the theme is (roughly) “making the decisions that will IMPACT EVERYTHING”, and “the narratives we tell ourselves about what we’re doing, why and how we feel about it”. It is left to each author to choose how closely they reference / stick to these original prompts. We’re excited to see what they come up with. If you like what you read, share it on Facebook and Twitter and help #EmbAmb increase it’s reach. Happy reading.
As the new year rung in for 2014, I was happy that my masters was behind me, and that in a few days, I would be reunited with amazing friends and helping run a conference in Toronto for approximately 800 people (the result of 8 months of working remotely with remarkable people). I told myself that I would take things seriously after the conference was over. I had already moved back in with my parents for two weeks at this point, and I had decided that I wouldn’t worry about looking for work until the dust settled from the conference and I had time to breathe again. Who would be hiring during this time anyways? Everyone is too busy stuffing their faces, enjoying the company of friends and family. Who would have time to care about what a fledgling engineer-in-training was thinking about in regards to careers and what to do with their life right?
After I came home, I muddled around, sending one or two resumes out a week, but mostly read, played video games, and went to yoga every day. And then I miraculously stumbled into a job, thanks to my friend’s connection. I’ve been working that same job for just over half a year now. It wasn’t work that I thought I’d be working in when I first got out of school, but somewhat related to what I studied (in my undergrad at least). Now that I’ve worked this long at my job, I’ve been asked several times how I like it. My best answer?
“Well I don’t loooooooooooooooooove it… but I don’t hate it either… I guess I’m content.”
I thought for the longest time, that I would only really enjoy working if I loved it. If I felt like I was making a difference in the world. And everything I did at work aligned with all my values and beliefs. That ultimately dictated the direction of where and what kind of jobs I was applying to during my funemployment phase. It also dictated a lot of emotions and frustrations I was feeling during my first couple of months of employment.
Over the next few months, and allowing myself to have more patience, to open up, to talk more and converse with coworkers and to build actual relationships there, I’ve realized a few key things.
- No, this job is not my ideal job. I don’t know if I actually know what that ideal job is for myself yet. But I am also just starting out, and no one is going to take me seriously or give me any credibility with no experience and such marginal understanding of how things work if I only looked for these ideal job opportunities. They simply do not exist for people as junior as me, even if I arrogantly think I have what it takes, and so desperately want it.
- I am not powerless, however. I do have a say in shaping my own direction and path. Right now, my responsibility and goal is to learn. Simple as that. I am here to learn and gain experience and it is then that I can start finding opportunities to grow and improve. It is with this new knowledge that I grow, that I can start seeing where I can and want to go and to direct myself in those directions.
- Famously reminded to me by a coworker friend on a near constant basis, as he is seeing signs that I’m burning out and overworking, that we should “Work to Live, not Live to Work”. Work cannot fulfill all aspects in life, and it shouldn’t have to. It does allow me to practice my problem solving, team work, and technical skills. It does not, unfortunately, allow me to truly practice my interests in environmental sustainability (arguably it can be counterproductive to this point), or other social justice issues of international development or gender equality, mental health awareness, or leadership building and youth engagement. But the interesting thing is it does provide me the opportunities to do so. I can afford to attend conference, talks, and even certification programs in any of the above. My job has provided benefits towards maintaining a healthier lifestyle if I so choose. And it even has team building events geared towards doing volunteer work together in our local community.
- I have been reminded once again, how important relationships are to me. Over the past 6 months, I’ve been able to make some great friends at work that I truly enjoy the company of at and outside of work. I work with a great team, and we’ve gotten to the point where amidst frustrating scenarios at work, we can laugh and joke. I even like working with my boss. How many people can say they like their boss, and working with them? I am very fortunate to have come across these amazing people, and if I were to decide it was time to leave, the hardest part would not be the pay or benefits, but to have to say goodbye to these great people.
Do I necessarily see myself working this same job 5 to 10 years down the road? I can’t really say, it could go both ways. I honestly have no clue. What about 2 years from now? Who knows? If I’ve learned anything in my early 20s and adulthood, it is that a lot can change and happen in a short amount of time.
Is this job the right job for me? Once again, I do not know. But, for now, in the present moment, it feels right. 6 months from now, it still might feel right, 1 year, still right, 5 years, maybe it still feels right. But until it feels wrong, there isn’t much for me to worry about and to have to take action against.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t any excuse to be complacent. I still need to keep on my toes and find opportunities to improve and seek those clues that might take me on a grander adventure, one that will provide me greater challenges and enjoyment. Things will always be ever changing for me, and if you stop and talk and listen, it is always ever changing for everyone else too. No stint of work, no matter how short or long is a waste. It is a learning opportunity, each one being a directory guide on the long hiking trail, helping me decide which direction to pursue. And you know what? I may not end up at a final destination where THE ULTIMATE MEGA JOB has been waiting for me to get to. It will actually probably lead me back to the beginning where I get a good laugh at my work life, and I then discover the joys of retirement and being a bratty old man. But as long as I am learning, and gaining and fulfilling some aspects of my life at my job, I will stick with it, and when the time comes where my position fails to provide me with those opportunities I seek, then it just means that it is time to move on. But time is not now. Although I am sure that time will come, as the time for all things will eventually come. For now, things feel right.