Every Friday (you know, if I remember), I’ll post my answer to one of the 50 questions.
7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
I have definitely settled, but it no longer feels like a permanent state of being. This fall, I am going to start taking classes to get a degree in Paralegal Studies. This is a decision that is not based solely on trying to make enough money to survive on, but it will also get me on a real career path, where I will be able to really feel like I make a difference and that what I do matters.
The last two jobs I’ve held, after two years of voluntary unemployment to be a stay-at-home mom, were both jobs that I just sort of accepted because I knew I needed to work. The first one, I was desperate to get out of the house, and to help with the finances, that I took the first thing that came along. I applied to everything I could think of, and that’s the first place that offered me a position. It was administrative work for an environmental record-keeping company in town. I was trapped in that horrible place for almost two years, if only because I didn’t think I could get anything else.
Then, I slowly started applying to new jobs. I stuck to what was comfortable – administrative work – and the first place that offered me a job, I said yes. It was less pay, but I would get benefits – something I just couldn’t afford to accept at the last place. They wanted to hire me because I had experience working with EPA and OSHA regulations (from my last job) but this firm does environmental consulting on more indoor air quality (whereas the last job dealt more with volatile emissions into the outdoor air). But they liked me and my experience, and I liked the escape.
For a little while, this place was great. I enjoyed coming in to work, and took comfort in what I was doing.
Now, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, everything has changed. I am unhappy and unfulfilled, and I am ready to move on. But I know if I start job hunting again, I’ll take the first thing that comes along. And I don’t want to work that way anymore. Instead, I decided that the right thing for me to do is to go back to school (something I’ve wanted to do since I got that first BA so many years ago). I changed my mind a dozen times, but finally settled on the paralegal degree. With luck, I can finish in about two years and then (with more luck) find a position with a law firm. Probably concentrating on family law, but that could change after I get into the program and take a few classes. Then? If it feels right, I could even go further and give law school a shot. Or I can just do the paralegal thing.
Either way, this is a big change. And I’m excited about it. It’s the first time I’ll be going to school with an actual career path in mind. Plus, for reasons too many to go into now, I really feel that I will be in a career where I feel that there is somewhere to go in the future and I will be able to do some good in the world (or, you know, my community). I want to help instead of just being helped. I want to work because I enjoy it, not just because I need the money.
And it’s going to take me a while to get there, but I’m on my way…