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.
I became a part-time Homemaker and a part-time employee for my current company. Mr. Muse and I had a few long discussions and we opted for “Less Money, More Free Time”.
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.
I was enjoying this. Admiring the fact that you had the courage to face yourself when you took to evening drinking and then leave the job which was stressing you. I was admiring the character which had such a balanced sense of priorities. Lovely stuff. Then I started reading about how the amount of work at your current job was draining away leaving you stressing again. Which really sucks as I feel you deserved a better break. Having said that, one thing you have demonstrated in spades is loads of character, so I have every confidence, with Mr Muse’s backing that you will find your way out of this temporary impasse
Thank you 🙂 I know I will, too, eventually. I have this weird relationship with change; some things I absolutely hate when change occurs, and others I welcome change. I was “content” with my last job until… change happened. I’m actually like that with every job – very content until major changes happen. LOL I know some people would get bored, but for me, just knowing I’ll go into work and for the most part everything will be on schedule and “routine” is good enough. Even when I worked retail, the days were the same even though the customers changed (mostly) – and I was good with that.
The problem now is finding a job, preferably part-time, where I don’t have to work evenings or weekends and can work full 8-hr days instead of 4 hours every day of the week.
…or I just need to start writing internet porn…
Something will turn up for you – you have so many contacts out there – you’re like the Boy Scouts – Be Prepared and the opportunity will find you!
😀 Thanks, Mom! I’m like a cat – always landing on my feet.
I would love to be a bounty hunter but would probably just end up tasering myself…I like the idea of being content. It is enough for me.
LOL Knowing how accident prone I am – I’d probably taser myself, too!
Good luck with the job hunt. And I know exactly what you mean about being content in you career and your life. I really like my job. It’s not my passion, but it’s interesting and challenging and I am good at it. My ambition though, extends only to being the absolute best at what I do. I don’t want to be higher level management. They work too much and they are too stressed. Where I am now, I get decent pay and I still get to have a life. Content is exactly what I am.
That is awesome! Mr. Muse is a very well-liked and sought-after Electrical Engineer. The higher ups at his company keep telling them they want him to think about a management role – and he has no interest in it at all. He just wants to be the best damn Electrical Engineer he can be. His direct supervisor is an engineer who was moved to management and said that he misses working on the drawings. That solidified Mr. Muses steadfast refusal to move to management no matter the money.
I’m the same way. I’m great at office administration and I’m great at Accounts Receivable and Collections. I’ve begrudgingly been a manager, but I don’t care for it. I want to be the wheel greaser that makes sure the office runs smoothly.
Our mutual friend who told you to “go do it” has given you some excellent advice, and I don’t disagree with her.
However, from the little bit I know Ms. Muse, I believe you and I share similar personality traits. We’re introverted. We’re thinkers. We’re passionate. We’re diverse.
I want to remind you that it’s okay to never grow up. It’s okay to have “just a job”. I am very fortunate to be well-paid to do something that comes easily to me and I quite enjoy. It makes spending my full-time hours away from home bearable.
My passions, though, reside outside of my workweek. I could honestly say that, if I were able financially to retire at age 27, I would. I’ve got plenty of interests, hobbies, and things on my bucket list to keep me from withering away from boredom. You love traveling, writing, photography, crochet, and so much more. Sure it’d be great to be able to define a “dream job” that encompasses those passions, but like you said, wouldn’t that have the possibility of sucking the enjoyment out of them?
I love playing the piano, and had every opportunity to attend any one of the finest musical schools in the nation. I broke my parents’ hearts by going to college for something unrelated to music, racking up student loan debt rather than pursuing music which probably would’ve gotten me oodles of scholarships, and ultimately dropping out of school. I don’t regret my decision for a second, though, because had I boxed myself into music as a career, it would have lost all its luster.
Especially for introverts like us, I see no shame in finding a job that serves only to pay the bills and to which we ultimately don’t mind losing 40 hours of our week. I graduated high school at age 16 and got nearly a perfect score on my ACT, and despite all that potential, one of my most rewarding and enjoyable jobs was working retail at a home improvement store for over 5 years. I didn’t mind my duties at work, and learned a lot while earning a great sense of accomplishment by helping so many customers. Still, the best part of that job was the fact that, when I punched out, I was able to wipe my mind and leave everything in the store. It was just a job for me, and once the hours were clocked, the real fun began.
And so, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being content. It’s okay not to define yourself by the job you have. Some people don’t have “dream jobs”, because the job is merely a social requirement to pursue bigger dreams.
Best of luck in your job search.
Thank you, Sir. I agree with you completely. I also think it was a really smart thing you did going to college.
You know, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being content. I’m a stay at home mom, something I chose to do soon after I found out I was pregnant. My husband has been very supportive through the whole thing. We have a nice house, our bills are paid and we have some money left over for fun things on just his income, yet everyone else in my life (with the exception of a very few close friends) keeps asking me when I’m going to go out and “do something” with my life. I always smile politely and reply with some quip about how I AM doing something, or that I’ll go back to work when the kids are in school. Basically I’m just telling them what they want to hear, because I sincerely have no desire to be back in the work force. Yes, having extra cash would be nice, but for me staying at home with my kiddos is much more fulfilling than having a super fancy car and lots of expensive things. Our society calls us, lazy, apathetic, or unmotivated if we desire things that are different from the accepted norm, which is what I think breeds the uncomfortable sense of discontentment. I’ve only recently said to heck with it all, and my life is much more stress free. Hopefully you’ll find what you’re looking for in a job and something that still provides you the time and energy to do the things you enjoy. 🙂
Thank you for stopping by, reading and commenting!
I agree! I actually have another friend who is a Homemaker, she and her husband are child-free like Mr. Muse and I, and also like us, they set up their finances to live within their means. She takes care of the cooking, cleaning and yard work and then their evenings and weekends are free. I’ve heard friends say things about her stay-at-home status that made me wonder what they have said about me! But, her staying at home works for them, and my working part-time works for me. Even if I have to go back to work fulltime for a while, I can handle it when it’s a job that I can truly leave and walk away from at the end of the day.
Let’s hear it for bucking the system!!