career explo (one way to look at it)

Yesterday it occurred to me all at once (like that moment during the morning commute when I realize I’ve forgotten one earring or neglected to put on deodorant) that one big hank of my lust for the harebrained lab career is the immediacy of change. Thinking of this friend-of-a-friend who inspired me, I’m drawn mainly to the cleanness of the break. She finished teaching in June, and by mid-July she was halfway through her first set of summer classes. Never to return to the not-right-anymore job.

How appealing that is! The quick change (which, even if I did it as quickly as possible at this moment, doesn’t seem so quick, as I have been asking myself for years now whether there’s something else I’d rather do). I think of it like hopping out of the lap pool, chilly with wet, and immersing myself in the hot tub. Contrast, relief.

The longer I spend exploring the idea, the less likely such immediate change seems. I am not, as I fantasized in July, going to quit my job in August and begin chemistry classes in September. It’d be financially irresponsible and existentially unwise. Not to mention rude to my coworkers. 

But I am going to keep looking into this new science life until it stops seeming interesting. There are for-profit college sales guys who will talk for an hour on the phone. There’s a community college admissions adviser fifteen years my junior who hands me a numbered list of steps, and, as I wind down my list of questions, asks me how I feel. There is a website called that tells which credits will transfer from one school to the next, more or less smelting my hard core heartfelt expensive liberal arts education (the hours in the throes of philosophy!) down to a handful of coins. There are easy ways to do what they call “job shadow”; hospitals have forms you can fill out to ask to come and watch. I’ll do this. I’ll be a shadow.

Meanwhile, also, I keep existing in my job. Not a shadow. Real, casting a shadow, working. Craving leaving, but still showing up for what I’ve promised to do. Our local library is hiring. For two-thirds my current pay, I could shelve books and help people sort out library card snafus. How’s that for a repetitive job I already know how to do? Hours of alphabetizing; moments of customer service. I could get to that. What shape can change take?

Twelve days ago I wound up the nerve to call the life coach a friend recommended a year ago, and she still hasn’t called me back. I will take this as a sign of a disorganized life coach (one I don’t want to hire) rather than the start of a book about someone hopeless. I think. I keep hoping to be jarred out. I keep looking for the possible change.


One thought on “career explo (one way to look at it)

  1. I hope you can find a good career coach. I’ve used one twice, and both times they have had helpful exercises for figuring out what I really want out of a career. This latest round provided the clarity needed NOT to pursue an opportunity that two years ago I would have gone after. If I’d gone after it and gotten it, it probably would have left to end up dissatisfied again in a couple of years. It just isn’t right for me, given what I really want out of life. I can’t believe that it took someone else to help me understand this, given how much time and blog space I spend navel-gazing on the issue, but it did.

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