Finally my midlife crisis is appropriately timed - coming to terms with mediocre life prospects
September 11, 2012 9:42 AM Subscribe
I think I need to give up on my dreams and sell out. I don't feel like I can get on board with it emotionally and I think it's interfering with my chances at any kind of success.
posted by Luke Skywalker to Work & Money (36 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Frankly this is the question I created this account to ask. Help seems like a long shot but I do need it. I'm honestly not back-handedly asking to be talked into believing in my dreams again, so eschew delivering that sort of advice if you can.
I'm sorry I'm so wordy but it would take me five times as long to put it in half the length: I am a one-time high-potential type went onto a solid but undistinguished undergraduate education in a technical field. Plan A was to go straight through a PhD, after 4 years I hated school and wanted out. Plan B turned out to be a decade of several 1 to 3 year stints in office work of various types. Always very unhappy with work.
"Dreams" were creative endeavors (specifics not important). I can't say I absolutely did all I could trying to make a go of them but I did put a lot of work into them, made substantial efforts to be recognized and get footholds into some sort of ladder of self promotion. Though I always found a the odd enthusiastic supporters nothing every really caught to even a minimal degree to think I had real potential to make a career of it. I have a regular creative practice that I am reasonably satisfied with as an outlet.
As my spouse and I had our first child I chanced into a decent part time job I could do at home and I did this many years. It was a contract basically and I finished the work a little under a year ago. Child is in school now and I have been job hunting for several months. My heart is absolutely not in it. The urgency of it is wholly driven by financial necessity born of bad debt a year of bad luck in terms of unexpected expenses. The money situation is getting bad. We're not in trouble yet but I feel like trouble knows my name these days and could develop an interest in me at any time. The stakes are so insanely much higher than the last time I was seeking employment (house, child, living without health insurance an absolute disaster waiting to happen).
Seeking employment in this job market under this duress is one of the worst things I've experienced which is saying a bit. I'm losing hope that selling out even under particularly favorable terms is going to be an option, though really we would do fine with me in a lowish level clerical job like I've worked many times in the past. However these jobs have traditionally been a slow process of going crazy for me.
Final complication is that my spouse is in a very demanding corporate job now. If we had made better choices we could live on this income but that ship has sailed and mere personal austerity will not bridge the gap. As it is we have become very dependent in a day to day lifestyle sense on my everyday homemaking efforts to make her life more supportable. I'm sincerely worried that trying to make up all those hours I put in on child-rearing, attending to schooling, cleaning, cooking etc. is going to put a terrible strain on all of us. Also I cover all sick and vacation days of our child and am with him several hours on school days and the prospect of losing most of that time with him is breaking my heart. I know many people deal with this and much harder schedules but it doesn't change how it makes me feel.
I feel terribly disappointed in myself given my dim prospects as of my early forties.
There is a strong impulse to take whatever work will pay as soon as possible to relieve the constant background radiation of money anxiety. But this is how I've taken every job I've had since college and its gotten me nowhere and made me very unhappy in the past. I've been trying to leverage the decent recent experience I got in a technical field related to my education but it was in kind of a niche and a little weird and so far it is not getting me anywhere. I know the market is very tight but I can't afford to wait a year. I fell like another stint in office work is going to doom me to that for a long time. It feels like doom.
I feel like my best play of a bad hand is just to make the best deal I can, hunker down, get the financial house in order, take a decent vacation once in a while. But emotionally I hate everything about this. I daydream constantly about some magical success with my creative things even though I intellectually don't believe in it at all. I go off on mental tangents with flavor-of-the-month get rich quick pipe dreams (think things like apps, kickstarter). I'm so tired of these thoughts. I don't feel like I'm bringing my A game to the job hunt and in these times it absolutely needs it. 15 years ago I wandered into some mindless clerical temp work out of sheer financial necessity and now it feels like I'm absolutely back a that square one.
What's the question, right? I'd most value related experiences that turned out reasonably well. How did you keep your heart in chasing what very much felt like the consolation prize? Where did you find a good attitude to bring to your job every day? (I've been a rotten employee during a couple periods in the past and I don't ever want to feel that way again). Did you find ways to shut up the intrusive crazy fantasy daydreams? Or just have to let them babble in the background while getting on with it? I guess generally I could use someone telling me from experience that this scenario can have an OK outcome because I can't get myself to believe it right now.
Extensive counseling for non-major depression and anxiety has been part of my big picture but never made a dent in my lifelong career woes issues. Feel free to suggest more of the same but that consideration is in kind of a separate track for me and the pragmatic issues remain immediate and pressing.