Getting off the career roller coaster

In the past seven months of my career, I have gone through nearly every emotion possible: fear (financial), excitement, relief, loneliness, promise, joy and indecision. I wasn’t happy in my last job and had considered starting my own business. I had that chance, and I enjoyed most things about being a business owner: autonomy, flexibility, doing work I like with people I respect and controlling my own destiny.

I’m a month into my new job, and I sometimes feel like I have to explain why I took the job. I was working from home, doing work I liked. Why take another office job?

I’m not giving up on some lifelong dream to be an entrepreneur. That is my brother, not me. What I want is to do work I enjoy with people I like. I’m not against working for someone else – as long as the work is the right fit for me and my family.

Even though working at home in yoga pants is nice, I missed being around people. It wasn’t just the past six months that I’ve felt it, but my last job was very solitary, so it’s been three years with very little social interaction during the work day. Although many writers are fine with that, I have a more broad communications background, so I actually miss, you know, communicating.

I also missed being part of a team. I had an amazing team at UC San Diego. They were my coworkers and I respected their work, but I also considered them my friends. We chatted about our lives regularly and worked well together toward a common goal, which brings me to something else I missed: feeling like my job makes a difference.

I’m not a doctor saving lives or a teacher who helps kids learn to read. Those jobs must be very rewarding, but I was never good at science, and I’m not sure I’m even patient enough to teach my own kids. Although I didn’t teach at UCSD, I felt like the work I did helped the school grow and our students were the direct beneficiaries. I watched people change their lives through education and my work helped publicize this amazing progress. I was always proud to say what I did.

I’m happy to report that I feel like this again in my new job. I love talking to people during the day again. In just a few weeks, I feel like part of a team. I’m excited to watch kids learn and grow and head off to college to become productive members of our society.

As much as I wavered on whether I wanted to go back to an office full time, the first time I stepped onto the campus of one of San Diego’s best private schools, I felt like it was something special. I felt like I belonged there, and more importantly, my future coworkers felt that, too.

I’m one month in, and I’m glad to be off of that emotional roller coaster.  I know I made the right decision – for me and my family – and that’s all that matters.


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