I have been musing and pondering about being content for a long time. The subject occupies the fore of my brain now and again, and most recently it pushed it’s way forward with my career conundrum. I was so focused on my perceived lack of direction with job and career that I lost sight of something of what I do have a lot of, and many don’t: contentedness.
When you start to ask people what they think you should do with your life, because you genuinely are interested in their opinion, they throw all kinds of things at you. One friend suggested I should be a Bounty Hunter… or work in a bakery. While the Bounty Hunter job is appealing because I wanted to be a Sniper, the bakery thing… is equally appealing, however, okay… BIG HOWEVER – most bakeries in town are not exclusively gluten-free, and sadly, my issues with gluten extend to having my skin turn red and itchy when flour, full of delicious gluten, lands on me. I’d have to work in a HazMat suit.
Mr. Muse isn’t too much help, mostly I think he’s too close to the situation so he sees all the things that I do, and knows I can do, but ultimately he just wants me to be happy. I might be an Introvert, but Mr. Muse is even MORE introverted and trying to have him give an opinion on things like this is akin to trying to have him eat cauliflower – it’s just not going to happen. So, friends try to be helpful in their way, but I’m left feeling like, A) I’m being pushed in a direction that doesn’t feel right, and B) they don’t really know who I am.
There are many, many things at which I excel. I usually enjoy doing them, and there are days I don’t. I was asked what my “dream job” was, and I said, “Traveling the world and writing about the places I go and the things I eat, like Anthony Bourdain.” I was told to “go do it” and that I “already kind of do that – now you just need to get paid for it”. That’d be nice, but then again – that might suck the fun right out of it – I’m not sure.
I’m a Homemaker (I dislike “Housewife” though I do use it sometimes) who has a lot of other talents. I like numbers. Considering I used to dread Math, hearing me say “I like numbers” is strange – but I do. I like words, so I have this blog and maybe one day I’ll write a book. I like to cook and bake – so I do that for myself, Mr. Muse and my friends – now, I just do all of that gluten free.
Mr. Muse and I had a sit-down four years ago when I was working full-time as an Account Manager, or as I liked to call it, “Guido” – I had to quit. I was working in the private student housing industry, 40-60 hours a week, dealing with residents who came from families where the parents were making a LOT more money than I would probably ever see. These people lived in penthouses on Central Park, water-front homes in South Beach and gated communities for the rich and famous in Los Angeles. These people had staff… gardeners, maids, etc. But overwhelmingly the traits that I noticed a majority of them had were:
- They thought they could buy their way out of, or into, anything.
- They were never satisfied with “good enough”.
The buildings in which I worked were taken over by a new management company and I was “let go” from a company I really liked and “hired” by the new company. Things fell apart. Things weren’t good and I felt like I was on a sinking ship. I was going home every night and complaining about work and having an adult beverage. Then another. And then maybe another…. and one night, as I was about to pour my third drink for the evening for the ____ consecutive night in a row, I stayed my hand and I set the bottle down on the counter.
I walked out to Mr. Muse and said, “Did you realize that I have come home every night for the last two or three weeks and have had 2-3 cocktails every night to numb myself from the stress. This is a bad thing. I need to quit working for X Company.” I walked back to the kitchen, put the bottle away and filled my glass with water. I typed up my Letter of Resignation and submitted it the next day.
I was making a nice paycheck. The new company panicked and offered me a 50% raise if I stayed on. I politely declined and said with all honesty that it wasn’t about the money – it was about working for them. Their disorganization. The slash-and-burn management. I was stressed out and no job was worth that much stress. I spent two weeks showing people how to do what I did and then happily left on a Friday.
Our house isn’t huge, but it’s tidy and comfortable. The yard gets maintained. The day-to-day operation of the home is taken care of and Mr. Muse can come home at the end of the work day and not have a mile-long To Do List staring at him every night. Our evenings and weekends are free to do as we please and my part-time paycheck pays for the little “extras” like travel. We live within our means. Sure, I don’t drive a $70k car, or live in a McMansion, own a private jet, a yacht or have a cadre of staff to take care of me. But, even though we don’t have all of that, we’ve been content.
I’ve lost sight of that contentedness because things at my current job have been going South. There isn’t much work. I’m not getting many hours, and those I do get are essentially sitting at a desk being a “warm body”. I’m feeling useless and unfulfilled. I was proud of my paycheck for 3-4 days a week working, even 2 days was enough to put money into the savings account, but now… I’m down to one day a week. It’s an improvement from the being laid off for four months, but deep down I know that I’ve “already left” the job. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m no longer “pulling my weight” here at home and I see the completion dates for things Mr. Muse and I want to do stretch out farther and farther – I’m feeling stressed again.
In a discussion over my conundrum, my college roommate, who chose to be a stay at home mom after she had kids, works part-time at a non-dream-job that doesn’t use her degree but one that keeps her “busy and paid”. She’s content. My Mom worked at a bank for many, many years because she was good with numbers, it wasn’t her dream job but it kept her “busy and paid”.
So, what is wrong with being content? Isn’t it okay to be happy with what you do have and not feel the need for more, more, more? Isn’t it okay that I don’t know what I want to be if I grow up? Isn’t it okay that I enjoy being a Homemaker, and having a clean house, cooking and baking good food, writing and working a part-time job (even if I have to find a new one)? Isn’t it okay to not have an answer to “What is your dream job?”
I only know that I really enjoy being content. I like being happy with “good enough”. It might not be flashy or expensive, but like the worn-out jeans I’m wearing, it’s comfortable.