Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Spend Your Life Doing What You Love

We are at work moreso than any other aspect of our life.  Actually that is a lie.  I know #mathishard but if you account for not sleeping or anything, we aren't at work more than anything.  If there is 24 hours in a day (well not if because there is), that is 168 hours a week.  And I am at work for 40 of those hours.  Some weeks way more than that.  Which equals to 23% of my life per week at work.  But then take into account sleeping.  If you get 8 hours of sleep (who does that by the way??!!) you are now down to 112 hours a week you are awake.  So now you are at work 35% of the time. Seems like kind of a small number but if you hate what you do, that 35% feels like 135% of your time.  And then you will hate life.  And hating life is not a good way to life.  Trust me.  I have been there.  I hated it.  I hated life and I hated the fact that I hated life.  And when that hate got to the point of it actually becoming maladaptive to my life, I made a change.  Easy to type, not easy to do.  But I decided that if I was going to have to work for the rest of my life, it was going to be something that would actually make me want to get out of bed and do.

I completely turned my life 180, went back to school, got my masters and found something that I was passionate about.  But more on that below.  

I am not your typical office worker.  I listen to music.  Music with swear words.  I swear.  Quite often.  I have stuffed animals at my desk.  I lose any and all professionalism I have after 3pm.  I have questionably inappropriate conversations with people via email and telephone conversations.  I don't wait for someone to tell me what to do (people not doing what they need to do without people telling them to do it is quite common), even if I have no clue what I am doing (me not knowing what I am doing is also quite common).  However, I used to not be like this.  I used to be your prim and proper office worker.  And I hated it.  And it hated me and ate away at my personality and happiness.  So I decided to say fuck it and be me at the workplace.  And if I am not as professional as they want me to be, then that isn't a place for me.  

One of my interviews at a law firm, they asked me if I could describe myself using 3 adjectives.  I used the comfortable, nothing wrong with them answers of responsible, punctual and kooky.  One lawyer I used to work for, when asked to describe me, said 'fearless'.  And that has stuck ever since.  But again, not the word I would have used prior to this knowledge.  But it has been a part of me ever since.  However, I have learned that even though I feel like I have a fearless disposition, it doesn't come across as much as I would like it to/it should.  When I worked at the jail, my supervisor told me that after my interview, she was worried about hiring me as she didn't think I was cut out for working in the jail.  And I pleasantly surprised her in showing her that I could hack it.  But that showed me that I need to show my skills, personality and fearlessness right off the bat and go in guns a blazing.  No holds bar.  Make people aware of my mad skills right from the get go.  And that is what I did when I worked in Nebraska and I think it helped me make all the wonderful friendships and relationships that I did while I was there.  

I have learned that there are many places that aren't right for me.  Before I had kind of a life epiphany, work and I had a tumultuous relationship.  Tumultuous in the way that if I had a bad day,  my mind instantly went to the thought of quitting.  That was my go-to.  Especially in law firms.  But those are a different breed in and of itself.  I would rarely make my three months as I couldn't last that long.  Which means I have had many jobs in my life.  Many many.  Let me list them for you:

  • KFC worker
  • Caretaker at a college
  • Hallmark associate 
  • Dennys waitress 
  • Bartender
  • Legal assistant (9 law firms and 1 temp agency)
  • Worker in a golf pro shop 
  • Receptionist at a school 
  • Jack of all trades (plumbing/heating)
  • Therapist in a jail 
  • Therapist in a community based setting 
But as I grew up, I realized that as an adult, I would have bad days.  I would have those days where I really hated my job and had no energy to do the work.  But guess what - that is life.  You learn by overcoming those days.  You learn what helps you cope those days.  Me, I put on an upbeat song.  I take a walk and get coffee. I go talk with the gals in accounting or corporate and just get away from my desk and reset myself.  And tell myself that tomorrow is a new day.  I know I am not doing what I want to be doing but I am making the best out of what I am in at the moment, knowing that eventually I will be doing what I want to be doing and knowing that goal is in the future, makes the day easier to handle.  

By far, bartender and therapist have been my favorite.  Which makes sense as people say that bartenders are therapists.  And I completely agree.  But I would go back to jail in a heartbeat.  To be a therapist.  No other reason.  I loved it.  I found my niche, I found where my heart is passionate about.  I found what I was good at.  I have so many amazing memories from working in the jail.  Here is one of my favorite.  

It was during one of my anger management groups.  We were talking about how to prepare oneself if they are going to go into a situation where anger may be a result.  So for an example, I told them that when I need to go into meetings or discussions where I feel that I may become frustrated or angry, I bring in a cup of tea with me as that is a calming thing for me.  So then I asked them to think of something they could do to avoid anger getting the best of them.  There was a long pause and one guy said 'yo Miss Ashley, I got one.  Instead of bringing the gun into the club, I could just leave it in my car'.   In my head, I laughed.   I talked about tea, they talked about guns.  Lesson there for me - know your audience.  But I was very happy and proud that he was able to make that connection.  And he was proud.  And it was a glorious day for me.  

I wish someone was able to see me interact with the individuals at the jail.  To see me do something that I feel so passionate about.  I think when you see that in person, it resonates so much more deeply inside of you.  I was lucky enough to see my sister do the work she does, which was very helpful because when she first got into the industry she is in, I was so confused on what she actually did.  But then I got to see her in action and it was unlike anything I see on a daily basis.  She loves what she does.  And she didn't even like that aspect of her job that she was doing that day.  But when I was watching her, I could tell that this was a passion.  And then watching people take pictures of her work and go up to her and thank her for her contributions and talk to her about her job and roles, I was in awe.  Because she is doing what she loves.  She is doing what she has a passion for.  And it took her some time to get there.  Which I completely understand.  What most people don't understand, people who haven't ever made a 180 change in their life, is that you can't just quit one job for another.  It isn't that simple.  It takes time, planning, perseverance, and patient.  And you will find resistance from people.  But that is where the perseverance comes in.  I could have stayed a legal assistant the rest of my life.  I could have been unhappy the rest of my life.  I could have made my stable paycheque, kept my stable job.  But I would have been unhappy.  And that is the key here.  Happiness means more to me than having a "stable" job.  And I think my sister felt the same way when she did her change.  It wasn't about the notoriety of being in the position that we were in.  It wasn't about the paycheque we knew was coming in.  What we were doing was not making us happy so we decided to do something about it.  Again, very hard to do but it is possible.  

I am happy for all the experiences I have had in my working life.  I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable of.  And for that I am grateful for trying new things, seeing what I am capable of and letting myself flourish in atmospheres that foster that.  One day I will get back to being a therapist.  I know it.  I will make it happen. 

Moral of this blog:  F*#k it and do the thing that makes you happy.  Even if it means flipping your life 180 and doing something you never thought you could do.  Find your happiness. Be happy with what you do.  

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