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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Scissors for a Safety Net

Okay, so as promised, this is going to be a double Diary entry this week. Yesterday, I made a little bit of an impromptu diary entry on one particular type of person that I can't deal with anymore in the constant battle to keep my sanity in check. It was kind of an inspired piece, as I had no requests to honour that week, but now that I have it out there, it makes me feel glad that I found the courage to talk about it.

And courage seems to be the word for today's blog entry as well. And, for this one I have to be careful how I word this particular one. It would be easy just to write what comes out of my head unfiltered and uncensored. But that's the thing. It would be TOO easy to do, and it may cause me some serious repercussions down the road. So, my challenge for this entry is to talk about a realization that I have had about myself over the last few weeks and talking about it in such a way that doesn't unleash a can of whoop-ass onto the world.

For me...challenge accepted.

August 1, 2013

I'm sure that many of you out there have gone to the quintessential school event known as “Career Day” at some point in your lives. But, just in case you haven't, I'll refresh your memory.

I would imagine that “Career Day” varied depending on what province, state, or country you lived in, but the basic gist of it was this. You had a bunch of people crammed inside a gymnasium, hotel lobby, or shopping plaza setting up booths that corresponded with a career option. For instance, you would have a representative of the police force informing people about how they could get into a career in law enforcement, or you'd have a chef talking about how you could run your own restaurant while providing free samples of tossed salad with homemade vinaigrette. You know, things like that.

I remember being a fresh-faced teenager...

...okay, okay, I was a teenager whose face was being attacked by scourges of pimples and blackheads. You happy now?

Anyway...when I was thirteen or fourteen, I went to one of these career fairs (keeping in mind that at that age the only jobs I could get were as a paperboy or french fry chef at McDonald's), and I was absolutely blown away by the array of opportunities and career options that were available to me. I could be a firefighter, a lawyer, a doctor, or even a mechanic.

(Only I really couldn't. My childhood asthma effectively banned me from fighting fires, I would be too emotionally involved to become an effective lawyer, I hate the sight of blood, so no medical career for me, and I would likely find a way to blow up a car if I ever attempted to do any work on it.)

But you know, that's all a part of growing older. Everyone learns that they can't be good at absolutely everything in the world, so they fine-tune the skills that they do show promise in, and go ahead towards what is hopefully their dream career.

And certainly I had some rather lofty goals as a child. I was determined to make a success of myself in one way or another. Having witnessed the financial hardships that my parents have had to go through during their lifetime, I didn't want to go through that in my own adulthood. So, my thought process behind trying to settle on a career choice was to try and find a career that I could do where I would be guaranteed a high income and be able to support myself financially for the rest of my life.

But keep in mind that this was the pimply faced fourteen year old me talking. The one who didn't quite understand how the real world worked, and the one who was unaware that finding the perfect job wasn't quite as easy as he thought it would be.

The truth is that finding the right path to easy street is not an easy one for almost anyone (well, unless you happen to have a huge trust fund that matures on your twenty-fifth birthday, that is, and even then that isn't a guarantee). You have to work for success and work hard for it. Or, at least that is what I have always been told, anyway.

So, when I set forth in pursuing my ultimate career goal, I did it the same way that a lot of people did. I worked a part-time job at the local newspaper – stuffing inserts into the newspapers (but hey, at least I can always say that I worked at a newspaper for a little bit), and I took co-operative education to learn more about how the work force worked (which is an experience that I absolutely recommend for every high school student out there). And, then I went off to university like everyone else that I knew because I thought that it was the way to go (even though as we all well know that experience didn't work out as well as I had hoped it would).

And, well...we all know what my current situation is now. I work a job in retail (that I have worked for the last eight years now), while dabbling a little bit in writing a blog for the last two.

And it is here where I must make my confession.

Don't get me wrong here. The last eight years of my life have been filled with many ups and downs, but overall it has been a positive experience. I have made quite a few connections with people who I probably would not have met otherwise, and let's face it - adding eight years of working experience on a resume always looks fantastic, no matter where you work.

But eventually there comes a time where you sit back and re-evaluate everything that you have done over the last decade or so, and you think to this it? Is this the path you want to follow for the rest of your life? Is this what you see yourself doing for the next thirty years of living?

Honestly...for me that would be a no.

It's not because I don't like what I am doing. This past year, I've had quite a few opportunities given to me, and I've been handling it to the best of my ability. It's been an absolute pleasure most days to do what I have been doing, and my patience in dealing with people has most definitely improved over the years – as anyone who has worked with me over the last eight years can definitely attest to.

But there's only so far I can steer this boat until I hit a patch of rocks off shore and I get completely stranded. And while I am not saying that I'm at that stage in my life at this point in time...I think that the longer I sit on my hands, the closer that day will come.

As much as I have had a lot of fun working retail (and no, I'm not being facetious here...the job for the most part HAS been fun due to the people that I have worked with and the regular customers that I meet and greet on a day to day basis), I know that I can't continue doing it forever. I've come to the conclusion that I've gone as far as I can go in my current job position, and that I don't think I can go any further.

So, I'm going to try and do something about it.

The thing is that I'm incredibly nervous about the idea of leaving a place that holds so much familiarity to me. For the last eight years, it's been a form of security for me. As long as I come into work, and keep doing my job, that was all that was required of me. And, for a while, it was good enough.

But then I keep thinking back to what I said at the very beginning of this blog entry. About having to watch my parents go through financial struggles, and wanting to not have to go through those same struggles myself. And that kind of makes me rethink everything about the next few years of my career.

I know that the longer that I stay in my current workplace, the less time I'm inevitably going to have to actively pursue the goals that I really want to achieve for myself. After all, I am not getting any younger. I've had some good times where I am right now, but the writing has been on the wall for some time now. In the past, I was too blind to see it, but now it's staring at me in the face like the “REDRUM” message that the main character in “The Shining” sees.

Only in my case, the message reads “WEN GNIHTEMOS YRT”.

So, as we turn the calendar to a brand new month, I flip the script in my own professional life, and I am now starting the next chapter, as frightening and scary as that may be. I'm still not one hundred per cent sure what this uncertain future will hold as I make my way through what seems to be known as my “twisted thirties” (seriously, that was the only thing I could come up with at the spur of the moment), but I do know one thing for sure. I can't continue the way that I am right now because the way that I am going right now is right towards a dead end. I still plan on keeping my current job while I pursue other avenues for the time being, but I'm just going to make it known that I am looking for other opportunities, and if one happens to come up that will benefit me for the long-term future, I won't hesitate to take it.  What I have is okay for now, but down the road...I'll need more than that.

But I just want to stress that it's nobody's fault that I feel this way. I don't blame anybody in particular, or the bad economy, or the fact that minimum wage is too low. This is just something that I have felt for some time now.  In order to better myself both physically, emotionally, and financially, I'm going to have to do something about it.  And that may mean trying something completely out of my comfort zone.

I'm doing an okay job right now handling things, and right now I feel like I'm in a safety net of sorts. But I'm at the point where the one thing I need the most is a pair of scissors to cut myself free from that safety net and pursue the opportunities that I know are waiting for me out there. The opportunities that I know that I am capable of handling now with eight years of customer service under my belt.

No matter how scared to death I am of what might await me.

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