“Praise the bridge that carried you over.”
~ George Colman
For 20 years I have under-exceeded my own expectations and those of people who knew me way back when with the daily job I have done. The job does not require a college degree even though I have one, is socially isolating, invisible even within the medical community, and does not provide much income.
Yet, if I view my life from a bird’s eye lens, way up there, as the speck of existence that it is, I could not have chosen a better livelihood for my life’s circumstances, even before I knew what those circumstances would be.
Let me count the ways:
- It provides just enough. And a bit more than the $10 to $12/hour jobs I qualify for in the county where I reside.
- Even though I started the job before I was partnered, before I had a child, and before I knew my healthiest choice was single parenthood, I could not have dreamed up a better scenario to allow me to be present for my child as much as possible by working from home, working night shifts at times needed, since hospitals function 24/7. (Check out the piece I wrote on strategies to make working from home manageable with children).
- It allows me to be for myself what I would like to have (a helper to cook and clean) because I am able to almost be two people. For example, it takes me less time than a bathroom break to sweep a floor or put a load of laundry in, and return to my desk. Then I can use the time I would be commuting to prepare a dinner.
- I could work through illness and weather that would keep me out of most office settings, including my child’s prolonged illness.
- I preserved my 14-year-old car and the environment by not commuting.
- I saved precious funds by buying little car fuel and work clothing.
- This one is theoretical because it is practically impossible with no funds to relocate, but mentally important: I have the freedom to work from anywhere with an Internet connection (and enough space for a few foot pedals and a good keyboard), so the job contains an open door.
- There are occasional slow workflow days that allow me to step aside and do things like write this blog. Or chauffeur my daughter to an activity or a friend.
- I have avoided office politics, except by e-mail, and that is worth about as much peace of mind as a walk in the woods.
- It has allowed me to learn as much medical language as a doctor knows, only without being able to save anyone’s life.
Have I wanted something more fulfilling for my life? Yes. Do I think I am capable of more? Probably yes. Did I try everything in my power to change my situation by applying to other opportunities? I believe so, but after enough times of hitting one’s head against a proverbial wall, one stops.
I am working on connecting to whatever I can that allows me to feel whole, purposeful, and in my own power, and none of these things have to do with my job.
This post is written partially in response to all the advice to “not spend another day in your crappy job,” because I want to urge people (and me) to see that sometimes the picture is not that simple. When seen from above, a crappy job might be a lifeline that cannot be cut with one magic wand. Sometimes extraordinary people might just be in an ordinary job for a reason that may have a higher purpose all in its own.