Skip to main content Skip to footer

craigmcn

Jobs, Careers and Identity

Mondays here are for music (Music Monday) and Thursdays are for ideas (Thoughtful Thursday). Lately, my ideas have had to do with a failed relationship and the loss and doubt I felt because of it. Today is still about doubt, but it’s about my career and some doubt I’ve been feeling because of recent and potential future events.

A job or career can be a defining part of us. We spend almost a third of our life asleep and at least another quarter at work. Whenever we meet new people, they often ask, “What do you do?” And the answer forms a significant part of their idea of us. If we question our career choice, we’re often questioning part of our identity.

The week after my relationship ended, I had a frustrating and stressful few days at work. The frustration and stress were because of a project with misunderstood requirements, but my reaction probably had more to do with the relationship. There was an idea that I had some knowledge of and control over additional systems that were not part of the project, but were being included unnecessarily. I was not aware of the actual scope of the project, nor did I believe it was my responsibility to know the actual scope. A conversation with my manager revealed that he had an expectation that I would take control of my part of the project and be clear about the parts that weren’t mine, while I had no such expectation.

Given that I was stressed and frustrated and had been expected not to be, I began to wonder whether this was the job for me, and whether I was comfortable with expanded responsibilities. I know that I’d like to be paid and recognized for the work I do, which is usually more than my job level requires, but certainly not if it’s more than I can (or want to) handle.

As soon as I had doubts about my job, and combined with my doubts about my relationship and my ability to have a successful relationship, all kinds of thoughts were going through my head: What job, what woman, what life will make me happy? And what kinds of changes am I willing to make?

A year ago we had some major workforce reductions (i.e., mass firings) at work and I was pretty cool with things. I figured if I was fired I’d have a couple months of paid vacation and then I’d find a new job somewhere in town. We’re looking at some similar activity again in a month or so, and this time I don’t really know. I’ve already been looking at local job listings and not finding anything interesting. I ran into the same thing five years ago when I was actively looking. In the past when I’ve really been looking for something else, my response has been to move somewhere else. Am I ready for that now? I don’t know.

I had it in my head that I could move out to the Gulf Islands and run a bed and breakfast. I was not really able run my own business when the product was just my own abilities, but maybe when the product is a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, the result might be different. But part of this dream involved the beautiful woman who dumped me. Do I want to start living a dream that belonged partly to someone else (who makes me sad)?

I don’t expect to get fired any time soon, but if I do, I expect it will be as much of a struggle figuring out what to do next as it has been moving on from a failed relationship. A lot of my identity was attached to my relationship, and a lot of it is attached to my job. It seems I have a lot of questions and few answers, and I’m not sure I’m ready yet for the experience of finding the answers.

Note: I’m really having fun using this new Getty Images embed feature.

0Comments