Here’s some more of the career change agonizing I do periodically, because I owe it to myself not to get complacent. Also, I mean to keep myself honest and document all stages of this confounded process so I might be of help to someone else someday.
I think the most important part of chronicling this stuff is acknowledging the nitty-gritty, unromantic elements. One of my pet peeves is when you watch a documentary or biopic, and one moment someone is down and out and doesn’t have two pennies to rub together, and then, bang, smash, they meet this really influential figure or some such, and one thing leads to another, and all of a sudden life starts happening for them. There are never details about the budgeting, networking, or other banal adjustments that get made to facilitate the leap from here to there. Well, let me tell ya, those dull details are what people in my current situation really want to know.
So here’s where I am, in all of its unromantic glory. I took a technical writing course and realized I don’t care a whit about technical writing. My story was featured in the “advice from our readers” section of a career change publication, and let’s face it: the crowdsourced weigh-ins, while well-intentioned, were better suited to someone with a breadwinner spouse who can finance their shift. Some more life happened and acted as a diversion. I haven’t seen my career counselor since mid-April (though I am trying to schedule an appointment with her in early June). My boss has supported slight tweaks to my team’s work schedule that make it just palatable enough to tempt said complacency. I’ve been creative as ever, but I also remain baffled as ever by how to monetize any of it. Absurdly, I’ve been tapped to serve as a mentor to someone else at work, while still being unable to find a mentor myself. Which is tragicomic.
Thoroughly vaccinated as I now am, I should be arranging more face-to-face meetings with people to broaden my sphere of contacts. But it is hard to pursue that when you still lack a clear focus. Should you meet with someone in every role that crosses your mind? Or should you attempt to narrow your scope, to be strategically selective? These journeys are so individual that other people’s examples seem of limited use to me.
In any event, the sticking point is this: I struggle to believe that what I’ve got is anything someone else would want to pay for. Not to mention, I’ve always felt that if I have any chance of standing out, it’s my weird a$$ itself that’s essentially the product. But that’s worth little without outside parties to sing one’s praises.
All I can think to do right now is list a few vignettes during which I felt I was really onto something (i.e., “living a truth” – as they say – that had the capacity to balloon into something bigger than myself):
-2017 when I wrote an entry on Alopecia World expressing desire to spin my autoimmune challenges into a purpose, and people poured out responses in a way I’d never received before. Similarly, when I emailed my story to an online wig shop and they were ready to interview me solely on the strength of the testimonial.
-In college when I not only presented my works to peers but also dissected my creative methodology for them in a Q&A.
-In high school when I gave concerts to small groups of interested people; similarly, certain karaoke performances where I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and captured the room. Along with that: a particular time I sang with someone else’s band and all the pieces fell into place to the point that I felt supremely in control of my narrative.
-When I wrote a review of a young independent musician and then read his joyful, profanity-laced effusion about it.
-Last month when I spoke to the editor of aforementioned career change website, and despite being strangers across the pond from each other, it was a lovely and uplifting, and not at all awkward, experience.
I am sure there are a few more; I might revisit this later.