In about two weeks, I’ll be starting a very new chapter in my life. I’m quitting my full time job and moving to a part time gig doing communications, supplemented with freelance writing. Unlike my usual 9-5 gigs, this is a slightly more adventurous and less stable venture.
I’m excited. I’m so incredibly excited that I’m finally going to be doing the thing I’ve known I wanted to do since I was 10, that I’ll have time to work on my book, that I will get the freedom to set my own schedule and work at my own pace. Not to brag or anything, but this is basically the dream set up for me, so that’s cool.
But of course, because my brain is my brain and it does what it does, I’m also completely terrified. Thanks brain! And I suppose that’s the point of today’s post: even good things require coping skills. It’s not rare for a good decision to be one that requires change and growth. Oftentimes the best things mean you have to leave behind a safety net, a comfort level, because if you were already in the good place, why leave?
The thing that scares me, that scares people like me, the perfectionists and rule followers and “good girls”, is free falling. An open field without a path. Of course open spaces are entirely necessary for growth, but that doesn’t make them any less scary. I know that I’m not the only one in the Millennial crowd who’s dealing with stuff like this. There are more freelancers than ever, the traditional college/career path is becoming more and more rare, full time well-paying jobs are harder to come by, and part time or retail or other work is getting more common. I know people who are perfectly happy working a low wage retail job for now because they like it and they can get by on it. I know people who are struggling to find contract work or temp or freelance, people who are mashing together a variety of part time jobs.
Work looks different for people my age than it has in the past. The good part of this? More people have gotten ok with choosing a different kind of life path than their parents or the received wisdom. People are more ok with looking at what works for them and building a life based on their priorities and goals. That’s awesome. The less awesome part is that it’s a generation of people trying to figure things out in a very different way from what they were prepared for. Until this year I had never even considered that I might work a job that wasn’t a 9-5 office gig. Many of my friends are living lives very different from what their parents and teachers told them they would.
There’s some bravery there. There’s at least a little bit more emotional awareness in a generation that’s starting to learn that there isn’t one way to be happy. And there’s also some rebellion. My generation was groomed to be really good at working. We were supposed to get good grades and volunteer and do a lot of extracurriculars and get into Harvard or something. There’s a lot of Rory Gilmores around. Except it turns out none of these Rorys actually want to get that dream job, they’d rather work on their own terms and live a little more simply.
I suspect this is a big part of the fear and whining that you hear a lot from the Millennials. It might be why our parents and older generations think we can’t get a job or don’t work hard enough. We work differently and have different priorities, but it’s scary to try out those new things. It’s scary to realize that going through a lot of stress in a change might mean feeling a lot better over the long term. I don’t know entirely what my point is, except that I feel a lot of people around me feel as if they’re standing on the edge of a precipice. Perhaps some of us would have taken the normal path if it were more available to us, but thanks to crap tons of therapy most of us have learned that it might be a lot easier and feel safer to do things the “normal” way, doesn’t mean it’s actually a good fit.
I don’t have to tolerate things that feel crappy over the long term. There’s no benefit to it. I get to do things that look stupid because they make me happier. I get to take the less stable job because it’s what I enjoy. Woohoo!
Also I might be a bit muddled with all the change, so apologies if this is even less clear than my normal posts.