13 February 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go?


Yesterday my old job, the one I left when they downsized my position to 20 hours a week, called and said, "Hey! Turns out 20 hours a week doesn't actually work! Turns out we need someone full time! Turns out you were right last fall and we miss you and we love you and we want you to come back!"

Well. While I'm not a bit surprised -- in fact, if I were the sort of person to say, "I called it," "I told you so," or any other sort of expression that rubs my foresight in people's faces, I would have said all of them -- I'm also not entirely convinced I want to go back.

Perhaps I have mentioned the fact that I'm not a big fan of, you know, working. Temping's great because it allows me to support my Junior Mints habit without ever forcing me to make any sort of commitment, so I can tell myself that if I get really entrenched in this re-write and just need a few days of nothing but the manuscript, or if I want to run away to Iowa or New Orleans or Mexico for the weekend, I can, or if maybe I want to start subbing or freelance writing or selling my services on the street corner (and by "my services" I mean of course: reading a lot of books, making fun of people I see on the street, baking awesome peanut butter oatmeal cookies... what were you thinking, Dirtymind?)... all options are open.

Good things about my old job: some awesome people (as well as some people who made me want to stab letter openers through my eardrums just so I wouldn't have to hear their voices ever again), really nice part of town, giant windows and lots of light, plenty of time for reading and blogging, not too far from the zoo, casual dress code, um... near the New Mexican restaurant.... Oh, and: steady paycheck, health insurance, security.... That stuff.

Bad things about my old job: Really crappy schedule. Nine and a half hour days four days a week, plus five hours on Saturdays. Rotating days off so you can never plan too far in advance. I was always tired. Working Saturdays impinged on visits to family AND kept me from volunteering at New Leash on Life (and made me feel like I never got enough of a break). Longish commute on a slow bus. Relatively low pay for an often annoying & sometimes stressful job. Dealing with old people, crabby people, and crazy people. Inconvenient part of town. No flexibility in scheduling (plans to go to Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Reunion in Grinnell and wedding in Barbados will all have to be revisited & possibly cancelled). Did I mention always tired? Feeling of suffocation & claustrophobia in own life, never enough time to write.


This year I've prided myself on following my passion, on stepping off the "sensible" path and onto the uncertain road of my intuition. It's scary as hell. There's a reason people feel trapped in their unfulfilling but secure jobs: lacking security, going without a steady paycheck, playing the old shell game every time you pay bills... it's stressful and scary and unfun. But. At this point in my life, that stress might be worth it if it means I have the time and space and freedom to write, to re-write, to pursue this passion and continue to move toward the life I've always seen in my dreams.

Thoughts? Opinions? Should we put this to a vote? Where should I go from here, folks?


Rachel said...

Whew. When I clicked on this I thought you mean the old teaching job and I was going to be like "Sure they want you, you're the best teacher ever, but stay in Chicago!"

Anyway, my life philosophy is that you simultaneously have to consider the possibilty you could be dead in six months OR might live to be 100. Thus, you want to try to live the general life where you'd be glad this is how you're spending your last six months, but you also want to be smart about things like health insurance and saving some money.

To some degree the answer of what to do may involve how much you value security. If being jobless and without health insurance or money causes you tons of stress and anxiety then that's no way to live your possible last six months! Take the job! But then maybe you don't care so much about those things.

Also, will the job help you get where you want to be in 1 or 5 years? That's an important consideration too.

Finally, saying yes and going back is not making a long-term commitment. You can always change your mind later.

Sara said...

I say screw 'em. The conventional path can only lead to regrets. And so forth.

Seriously, I just took my first real, live, long-term full-time job, mere months before my thirtieth birthday. I'm happy to do it because it's just a sweet job, but I certainly have no regrets about the many years I spent *not* on the career treadmill. If you're happy with the temping, stick with the temping until something truly better comes along.

Rory said...

Don't do it. Don't. Do. It. If you can continue to temp to make sure you have electricity, clean undergarments and Junior Mints, then that's what I would say you do until you can get your book finished and your life headed on the track it needs to be. I would worry, however, about a lack of health insurance; only you know how you can do without that. One day you will have to have a full time doingwhateveritis job again. If you can survive long enough to finish the book before having to go back into full-time world, that's what I would do; while you still can...

Alder said...

Your list of bad things about the job is much longer and more passionate than your list of good things. Really, health insurance is the only thing that sticks out on the good side. If you can make it without the job, go for it!

Amanda said...

Don't go back!! I've faced this situation twice and both times I went back, only to find myself just as unhappy as I once was, no matter how much they were paying me and what the benefits were. Just my opinion though!