Have you noticed how practical matters seem to disrupt the creative process? At the end of July, I accepted a part-time position at our local Chamber of Commerce. I thought it would be a nice change of pace to have somewhere to go to three days a week, earn some pocket money, and spend the rest of the time working on other projects.
The transition to work outside the home and back to an office was difficult. In fact, I hated it. I didn’t like to talk to anyone on the phone; I wasn’t comfortable answering questions about the area, and there were certain things I learned about the town and some of the people that I didn’t need to know. The romantic view I held of our little forest hamlet was trampled by a herd of moose.
Although I was the one who wanted the job, I resented having to go to an office Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I missed out on events occuring in other towns; I was stuck sitting at a desk on beautiful days instead of taking a long walk with the knuckle-heads; it completely disrupted my workouts; but, more importantly, the job threw in disarray my writing schedule.
The job in of itself was not difficult. It was public relations with a side of administrative responsibilities. You don’t need a graduate degree to do the job, but you need to have an outgoing cheerleader personality. And if you’ve followed my stories throughout the years, you know I rather be among a pack of coyotes instead of a group of my own species. Why did I accept it?
It’s a good question and one I’ve asked myself often throughout the years when I worked in PR, but also when I pushed myself to be more outgoing. It may seem I am describing myself as socially awkward or inept, but I can function at parties and it looks like I’m having a grand old time, and I am, most likely, enjoying myself. However, afterwards I’m drained and exhausted because it’s a performance. And that’s what this job was a performance. Three days at the office left me not wanting to write, read, workout, or think. And I resented it because I promised I would still be able to start and complete the other projects that mattered to me.
The reality was, and still is, that I quit my previous job, because—and even though the income and benefits were was nice to have—I wasn’t happy working in a corporate environment. The personalities of the managers and clients; the incessant meetings where nothing was ever accomplished; the non-stop ringing phone-calls and pinging emails; the office politics, the mind-numbing administrative duties and so on.
For this little job, I’d be scrambling to get ready to go to the office on the weekends, muttering curses under my breath for an hour. When I’d arrive, my plastic smile would be pasted on my face. Yet after a couple of hours the veneer of faux good cheer would peel away and the look of “I need to get out of here” would be plain to see.
The job came to an end Saturday. I was told that it wasn’t a good fit (I knew that). I was planning to say so long after I returned in November from the Writer UnBoxed UnConference, but it caught me off-guard because I like to leave under my terms. I was disappointed, but at the same time I was relieved because I can be me again.
After stewing about it Saturday night, I went to bed realizing there’s a lesson to be relearned: no matter how much you rationalize that a certain job, individual, or activity might be good for you, the moment that doubt creeps in leave under your own terms and don’t look back. Know yourself and and be true to your beliefs, ambitions, and desires, because you are who you are, and you control your future.
Now that I’ve set it aside as an experience that’s not worth remembering, I can enjoy my forest hamlet again, be clueless of all the petty politics, and get back to writing.