Lent is over. Forty days has passed between the start of this mental health exercise and the end, and so much has changed for me in this time. I started out around a 3 on the scale of 1-10 and now I'm closer to a 6. I'd really like to get myself to a seven or eight, which I'm sure will come once I'm back up on my feet again. I think it would have been a bit better if I hadn't become sick, but I keep telling myself that it was all part of the bigger plan. The stress of this job, this terrible mind-f**k that has been slowly killing me over the past few years, let's throw that out. Let's focus on the things that have been forgotten - home life, your own personal health, friendships and enjoying spending time with your family - let's get that focus back. Oh, let's make you sick because you were still too focused on this old job so if you're sick you'll have to focus on yourself personally. Let's make you spend some time focusing on what you'd really like to do with your life from this point out. But there's also some things that you need to do to help your family and those around you, so let's bring that out for a little while so you can start to realize what really matters.
I have been stuck in this job so long that I don't have a 'dream' anymore. I realized this while spending time slowly dying from this cold (well, not really, it's just a cold like any other; miserable). But when you're miserable and your body doesn't want to do anything you have a lot of time to think. And I started to realize that all of those old dreams I used to have, I really have put on a shelf over the past few years. Why? Because I had a full time job that gave me plenty of time off and plenty of benefits, I had just started making friends who actually came over to my house to play Dungeons & Dragons, and thus my time was taken up between work, home, games and friends and there was very little time left over for anything else. And for the past few years that has been enough for me. But now, suddenly, with my time almost completely opened up for me (well, at least around 40 hours of it where work used to be), I don't know how to fill it - I don't know how I want to fill it.
So, there is where the "aftermath" part comes in.
What do I really want to do with my life? Do I want to go back into the role of a manager again, putting the stresses of an entire store on my shoulders again where I just bend over again? Do I want to attempt to get back into that world as a part-timer and work my way up again but with very little room to do things? Do I want to get into a completely different world where I can maybe have a whole bunch of awesome benefits but also be part of a world I'm completely out of my comfort zone? Or perhaps I want to balance it with something else that keeps me busy? What do I want to do? I just don't know...
I had at one point wanted to be a writer. I had at one point wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a crafter. A photographer. A commissioned artist. But those jobs, unless you throw your entire being into it, doesn't pay the bills. People don't flock to this blog to read my words and throw money at me! I'm lucky to have a couple people read these things when I actually share them on my webpage. But, I'm okay with it, this page is mostly for my mental health anyway. Doesn't pay the bills, but that's okay.
That still doesn't give me an answer to the initial question. What to do now?
I feel better (well, except for the cold) and I'm still fairly confident in the ability to find a job. But I also worry that if I 'settle' then I'll just be stuck again in the same sort of spiral that I have gotten into over the years. I'll find a job where I do really well. I'll get to a point where some boss will get angry at me for something and then I'll not want to do my job as well anymore, and eventually they'll blame me for their misery and eventually I'll have to leave because I can't get my attitude up any more.
Burnout is most likely the true reason that I have had so many issues. I went back to my diaries back when I first started working, just kind of looking around at where my brain was back then in my twenties, and realized that indeed, I'd gone from being very excited about the places I worked, really busting my booty to get those customers, and then realizing that all of this work might be helping but that there's a boss somewhere that still wants more and that I should have more but I'm worn out and I have no motivation anymore to continue on. And that's where the burnout came from and I miss those years of working for managers who actually wanted to succeed and help the rest of us too. So, how do I find a new job that has a manager like that? Or if I were to become a manager, how do I help my employees find meaning and also not find myself being squashed by a money-grubbing regional who wants me to chop hours so they can get their bonuses and hold my job over my head to do so?
So, maybe I need to get out of retail and go somewhere else. Maybe I need to go into a smaller place again and work my way up and find a slower paced atmosphere. But if I get interviewed, what should I answer when they ask, "what's your five year plan?" What IS it? Make enough money to retire someday? To live comfortably? To be able to go on vacations again? To be able to find time to do a craft table? Have enough money to finish my basement so we can have a game room? I don't know... And I think I may have to wait on this job thing until I can finally make up my mind. I keep telling myself that it doesn't matter that I put out applications because I don't have to take a job unless I like it, right?
I guess I should apologize for this rambling blog today but I figured this might be a good way to show you the confusion that goes through one's head during this period of time. I feel better, but I don't have direction. The war happened, the bomb dropped, now the cleanup begins, but it's not yet time for rebuilding.
We'll get to rebuilding next time....I hope.