My Quest for “Career Bliss”–Yes, it Exists!

a guest blog post by shopgirl of shopgirlanonymous.com

 
 

My daddy could sell ‘ice to an eskimo’, or so I was told.  Growing up, I remember my daddy was a jovial person.  He laughed more than any human I have still yet to meet, and he always donned a smile that extended across his entire face.  I would trace the deep crevices that had cratered in a sunburst pattern from his eyes at only 35.   He was my love, my hero, and held all my admiration.   I asked him to marry me over and over again.  Call it childhood instinct, but I knew our time together would be short.

 

It was a Sunday night, 5 days before my 11th birthday, when we received the tragic call; my daddy was dead.  The day before my birthday I sat nervously locked away in a back corner, hiding from his corpse displayed for the viewing pleasure of all those that had loved him as much as I did, “He died doing what made him happy,” everyone kept saying over and over and over again as they passed me. Looking back at my life, I can tell that statement became a subconscious mantra.

 

My childhood was not the happiest, and the option to do what just made you happy was not exactly conducive.  My mother was left in piles of debt with an 11 year old, 5 year old, and newborn infant.  My job was to help clean the house and take care of my brothers, I had to repress the pain and understandably step up and take my role as oldest sibling.  Each night as I lay down in my bed I could finally weep over his smile.  How much I longed for someone to laugh or smile, or to be able to genuinely laugh or smile myself, but for a time I had lost the ability. My stepfather loves to remind me that when I was teasingly asked at 13 if I wanted to marry some crush of the month my response was, “whoever I marry, I want him to make me laugh.”

 

My grandfather was founder of a bank in Houston and as I hit teenage years I would spend my summers working there. At dinner time my grandparents would build me up, “You will be a banker, there is no more accommodating field for a woman to climb to the top.” They would groom me for a position they had in mind for me at my grandfather’s bank.  Each day as I sat behind my desk my soul would fade, I would find myself venturing onto Livejournal to just write, my heart was not in my work, and I was miserable.

 

Once at the university, I finally began taking only what made me happy.  Although by my later teenage years my responsibilities for my brothers had faded, it was a difficult state of mind to shake.  It was difficult to just let go and be a child, but in the dorm, for the first time I experienced a euphoria of freedom.  I began to really laugh.  I began to take whatever classes sounded like they would make me happy, and bring great interest to me.  If  a friend said a prof they had in astronomy was amazing I signed up for it, if I read that a women’s writers teacher was the bees knees on a school review I would apply.  I took whatever sounded fun at the time with no real direction.  Finally in my Junior year, I was called into an advisors office who said I had to declare some sort of major, we looked at my plan and with my credits English junior high education was my calling.

 

I married a man at 21 that made me laugh, I was only a sophomore in college at this point.  We bought a house, and though his salary paid for our home he wanted my equal contribution and requested I get a job.  I applied at my favorite store in the mall, the one I visited every Tuesday night for inspiration and story ideas, and within weeks was their new lowly sales associate.  The man who hired me was the most jovial man I had ever met, he had that distantly familiar genuine twinkle of happy in his eyes.  He let me know that my job was to make my customers’ day.  I was inspired, my job was to bring joy to customers!

 

I was encouraged to dance, I was encouraged to laugh, I was encouraged to reach out to each and every individual and bring a smile to their faces.  I was given the opportunity to listen and to care. I was able to take the sad and mistreated and inspire or reignite a light within. I felt my mantra come to life.

 

With great consideration and pain I left my retail career (now an assistant manger) after a year to student teach where I was told not to allow laughter in my classroom. I was told to teach the children how to answer questions on a test, not to teach them the correct answers. I was told I could not encourage their own laughter and clowning. The principle would walk in if she heard laughter and tell me she could not concentrate, that we had to work silently in my classroom.

 

This was the career path I had chosen, this is what I had studied for.  But one night I sat and thought of my last conversation with my father.  I remember there was no time that I saw him with more confidence and excitement then when he was describing to me his successes as a traveling sales man.  We lived in the desert, and he sold scuba equipment which ripped him from our home for weeks at a time.  He showed me all the sales he had made, how suddenly we were going to be able pay off debt, and how someday soon we would own a red suburban (his dream car). He had such a passion and talent for sales, and so had I. For his final breath he was standing in the pacific ocean with his best friend, just off the shore of California, putting on his flipper to begin another dive.
 

I didn’t want to die doing what I felt I had to do. I was going to spread smiles and laughter, I was going to return to sales.

 
 

Featured photo is owned with all rights reserved to the guest blogger, it was taken in a trip to Grand Cayman

To blog or not to blog

So I let Monday pass without even opening my blog. I haven’t been very active last week either. I’ve been contemplating a lot since the day we had the blogging101 assignment of writing about me and about the blog. I realized, I, myself am confused as to the direction I would like to take. I wanted it to be an outlet where I could document my reflections and ideas and how Economics applies to each of them. However, more often than not, I find myself lost in my own sea of thoughts. What would I write about next and how would I relate it to Economics? At the end of the day, I end up wanting to write about something else, something more in sync to what I feel at the moment, which was evident in my last post. I originally wanted to blog to have an outlet where I can exercise the other side of the brain (not sure if it is left or right but I am referring to the creative side) since I am tied to an 8-hour day-in-day-out life of a corporate employee. But come Monday evening, the time which is the schedule I set for weekly posts to be published, I find it very difficult to collect my thoughts. It is highly likely that it is because I’m so preoccupied by the limitations of what I am supposed to write about. I have to be faithful to the purpose which I set for this blog. I started to feel like writing a post is another assignment outside of work. That is in truth, contrary to why I jumped into blogging in the first place. When I wrote the page about the blog and asked others to let me know what they honestly think, I got the feedback that they don’t really know what they’re reading about. It’s confusing what direction the blog is heading towards. That left me rethinking the idea of me blogging. Is this for me? Should I press on? What do I really want readers to see? Why would my thoughts be worthy of reading? Do I intend to please people so that I get a loyal following, who is the target audience?

So I took some days off from WordPress and blogging101. I had to contemplate on answering that question whether I should continue on or stop as early as now (when I haven’t given too much of an investment yet). I am grateful to my blogging101 ‘classmates’ @perelincolors and @paddastoel for giving me their brutally honest feedback and to my friend, James, who patiently read every single one of my posts to give me an unbiased evaluation. With their help, I realized that by virtue of the blog purpose I wrote about, I have failed. I wanted a blog that doesn’t show much of my emotions and only talks about things from an economic analysis point of view. Considering their thoughts, I asked myself, “Do I want it to be a heartless blog with purely intellectual articles for which my qualifications are clearly lacking? Is it the direction I want to take? Would it be worthy of any reader’s trust?” I revisited my first four blogs. Reading them again, I noticed that in each of them it felt like I was trying to pour my heart out while also trying to hold back. Can you imagine that? If someone talks to you that way, that person will not gain your trust and more likely than not, you would not want to talk to him or her again. Maybe that’s why all this time, my blog always felt awkward to me. In the end I’m not so convinced myself that I’m loving how my blog is shaping up.

It’s easy to commit online suicide. I can just delete my wordpress account or abandon this blog never to come back again. How melodramatic! The simple question is, should I blog or not in the first place? If there’s no significant purpose for it, why waste my time and energy? Why invest emotionally in this? Might as well use the time sleeping. How productive, I know but that is really the best substitute I am think of at the moment. After all, I gave up on a few hours of sleep writing and trying to set-up this blog. So after blabbering for three paragraphs now, the question that begs an answer still remains, do I want to continue doing this or not? If so, what is really my vision for it? Do I feel compelled enough by the current vision to continue on regardless of month-end peak season at work, heavy readings for the day required for my studies, the temptation of abandoning a post unfinished to watch a movie with my husband who consistently plays one every time I try to come up with a decent post? Is the currently stated intention for the blog strong enough? Is my mind all geared towards the direction I want this blog to take? Man, I wish I could easily say yes but pretending would lead me back where I am now—lost and unsatisfied every after a few post because I am not happy with it. Wow, now this is beginning to sound much like my career journey. So, if indeed it’s a no, will this be my last post? Or do I redefine the vision,do I steer to a new direction?

A Little Background

I went back to the day I decided I want to have blog. It was when I asked my husband why he, himself, blog. He said it is more for him as he intends to document his thoughts and stand on issues and topics about his blog theme. He’s had this blog for 7 years now. He told me that if I ever have to blog, I better start thinking that I do it for myself. So ultimately the utility (economics term which means ‘satisfaction’ in ordinary language) must be for myself. Regardless if someone reads it or not, I should feel fulfilled and happy when I see my blog. This is one thing I also learned about the very first blog I followed, Confessions of a Food Tourist. In her description of the blog, the blogger said she doesn’t intend to change the world only to share what she has experienced. Her vision was very clear, simple and straightforward. I was told that I cannot really do away with revealing myself when I blog. Who would actually listen to life advice from someone they don’t even know? That makes a lot of sense. I must somehow reveal parts of myself which will comprise my online personality. After all, if I have to write it for myself as my husband advised, I have to be able to see and understand me years down the road when I read posts from the past. It is like leaving behind footprints of the person I am today, so that the person I will be tomorrow has something to look back to and watch how life happened, realizing how far she’s been, how her thoughts have changed, her thinking evolved on some things and remain firm on others. This is why I wanted to blog. I want to write about my story, my discoveries ultimately to create an interesting tapestry that unfolds as life goes on in the hopes that in the future, the bits and pieces will be encouraging, to my future self or to anyone who comes across it in the online world.

Blogging’s Place in my Life

Keeping your sanity in the midst of an obvious degradation of interest and all sort of excitement from the ‘work of your life’ can be daunting. Looking back, I wonder in awe at how far I’ve gone and how long I’ve been able to keep it all together (well, this is contestable by virtue of the ‘episodes’ which I so frequently used to have) in the long ~7 years of my career in the field of finance. I realized how much of a big fight I’ve been through, and still is going through all these years. It’s been a long-term love-hate relationship with my line of work. I’ve only managed to come out of each phase better because of the outlets I’ve used: I was lucky that for my first few years, I got to travel as part of the job. When I moved out of that role, I started to take up French classes which I really enjoyed. Oui, je parle un peu Français! After that, I took a formal diploma course in Floral Design. I had lots of fun designing and creating arrangements. When I got my diploma, I had another focus—our migration project. It was not easy getting all the requirements ready for the visa application, investing on something we don’t even know will be granted to us and later planning on how to move 20+ years of our lives in 80kgs of luggage going to a place we’ve never been to before, where we neither have a family nor close friends. We finally settled in and it was not long enough ‘til I was in search again for another outlet. That’s when I thought of blogging. But then again, this has to compete with my studying. I am currently enrolled to the CPA Australia program which, though it is not really my idea of exciting, is a requirement my career demands.

The blog’s vision

If you’ve survived reading this lengthy post, you would have realized by now that, in all honesty, I am not sure what I would like this blog to become. However, there is a little picture in my head which inspired me to continue writing the previous posts I published. That is my future son or daughter reading my thoughts through this blog. If I will ever have kids, which I can’t tell as of the moment, I am not sure they would have the taste for such blabbering from an old woman from a generation past. I would like to think at some point in time, they would. After all, they would have to have my genes in them if they are to be my children. That being my vision, this blog is dynamic. It will be about my life, my experiences—as a frustrated economist; a bored finance professional who despite that fact, strives to be best in her field; as a wife; as a migrant; as a dreamer. As I write from nothing but my own experiences and view of the world, it will be inevitable for me to write about my faith and about my love for God who is the source of my encouragement to live my life every waking moment. From time to time, I am sure I will also write about my past, which would always relate to how my thought process is in the present. I hope that like my husband, 7 years after, I would smile reading my posts and realizing how much I’ve been through and how much beautiful memories I’ve made. Seeing them not from blurry visions of memory but from the words I did write, myself. I am excited about the fact that this blog will take its shape as my life unfolds. So I guess, I am deciding to keep up what I started. I will continue blogging. The categories, topics, the tags will come later. But, I must build on the foundations first.

About this blog

This morning, I told my husband as I was on my way to work that my job is not the kind of work I want to do for the rest of my life. “Go with the wind and sail,” he answered. That sailing—that’s what this blog is about.

 

 

Featured Photo: “At the Crossroad” by Hermanne Allan Poe, taken from the blog of @Christopher B!