Chasing Dreams is a feature about pursuing a career path that you’re passionate about and going after your dream job.
One of the perks of being a book blogger is you get to meet fellow book lovers that you wouldn’t have ever been friends with if you never had a blog. I will always be thankful for how my blog has introduced me to so many wonderful friends. Heidi of Bunbury in the Stacks is one of those friends. We’ve gotten to know each other through blog posts, email exchanges, tweets and even a readalong. Heidi’s pretty smart and when I found out that she could relate to my Chasing Dreams feature, I knew she’d have clever things to say about the topic.
You know those posts you see about how hard someone worked to get where they are, but it was all worth it because they made it? This isn’t one of those posts. This is one of those posts written by a woman who strategically avoids Facebook, largely because seeing all of her old friends land their dream jobs, find the perfect home, and happily find marriage and children a part of their lives makes her feel a terrible mixture of jealousy and self-defeat when she wants to be genuinely happy. The reality is, it’s much easier to be happy for others reaching their dreams if you’ve reached yours yourself.
A decade (or a little more) back when I was in high school I was certain I’d go to college, meet my true love, get married, and of course find a job I was passionate about and completely fulfilled me, one I would work at for 30+ years before retiring. I thought that’s how life worked. Now, a lot of you out there are shaking your heads at young, naive little Heidi, but the reality is, that’s how it worked for my parents (I thought). That’s how it worked for my older sister who was very much a role model for me (I thought). Heck, when you’re from a town as small as mine, it really seemed like that’s how it worked for everyone. Truth of the matter is – that’s not how life works, for me, or maybe anyone. The world isn’t as simple as we thought when we were 17.There have been a number of “ah ha!” moments in my life where I suddenly had it all figured out. Followed by a number of subsequent moments when I collapsed in a heap of hopeless disappointment.
When I went to college, I was so sick of having everyone say “oh, you’ll be majoring in English”, that I stubbornly chose not to major in this area that I loved. I also stubbornly refused to consider switching schools when I was unhappy with where I was, or ever ask for the help I desperately needed. So I instead floundered about for several years before realizing (as a senior) that I wanted to work in the book world. Ah ha! Of course, it was too late to change my major – this was a private school, I literally couldn’t afford to extend my education.
After college, I moved back home to Wyoming, and eventually found a job working for a local museum and cultural center writing grants and publicity, and helping to coordinate events. I loved my work. I felt that I was part of a driving force behind an educational, recreational, and community-oriented organization; I was so proud of what I did. I knew that my interests definitely bent toward engaging others, and being highly active in every single program and project we pursued for the enrichment of the community. Ah ha! Of course, I didn’t factor in a serious long-term romantic relationship.
I ended up leaving this job and my beloved Wyoming to move to New York with my serious boyfriend. As happy as I was, the value of my relationship overrode a job where there was really no room for upward mobility. I thought moving to New York would be the perfect opportunity to marry my two previous ah ha moments by pursuing librarianship. Ah ha! Of course, I didn’t anticipate that the area I was moving to wouldn’t hire so much as a page (heck, won’t even take volunteers) without going through the lengthy and difficult Civil Service process.
It would take a certain amount of time as a resident before I could pursue the Civil Service route (then testing/waiting for results/waiting to be placed, etc.), and knowing that I wanted to pursue librarianship regardless, I decided to work toward obtaining my MLIS while finding a paraprofessional position to obtain experience. Ah ha! But then… I never found a paraprofessional position while I was in school, and now that I’ve graduated I’m in that awkward limbo of being both overqualified (employers don’t want to hire applicants with professional degrees for paraprofessional positions because it is seen as a stepping stone and they will likely have to replace that position in a few months) and under-qualified (I don’t have the active library experience of other MLIS applicants. Stuck.
Maybe this entire post seems as if I’m throwing one big pity party. In a way I am. I struggle with the idea that I may never find a job I’m passionate about every day. I have so much drive that just needs to be tapped. I know that I’m good at what I do. I’ve excelled at every job I’ve ever had, and I know when someone eventually gives me that chance they won’t regret it. But waking up every day and remaining hopeful and persistent in your pursuit of dreams–that’s tough work. I certainly don’t succeed at it every day, but I also know I’m not alone.
At the moment, I work two part-time jobs that are adjacent to things I love – knitting and books. Neither is a career, but both are helping me to broaden my mind-set and realize that there are more opportunities out there for me than I’d initially anticipated. I’m trying to make what experience I have work to get me to where I want to be. There are other venues for education, engagement, and creativity that I would love to be a part of – fields I could be passionate about that I never anticipated having access to. Sure, I lost all of my long-term social connections when I moved to New York, but I also entered an environment that holds so many more opportunities than I ever could have imagined back home.
The reality is, chasing dreams sucks. It’s brutally hard, full of emotional pitfalls and double-edged swords. Sometimes you’re going to have to perform triage on your life and determine what’s the highest priority. For me, that was my relationship. And while pursuing that has left me in a veritable drought career-wise, I don’t regret that decision for one minute. Is my life fulfilled by only that relationship? Unfortunately, no. I still have my heart set on a career as well. What I always assumed would be the easy part has been the most difficult aspect of my life so far. But I hope that someday I’ll be that person who has it all, the one who makes others scowl on Facebook. Until then, I’ll just keep plugging along for that next ah ha moment.
Thank you, Heidi, for that insightful guest post. I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be able to relate to what you said. When I was younger, I thought I’d have figured things out by now. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. I do agree that chasing dreams and pursuing your passion is tough (if it were easy then we’d have all done it by now) but I remain hopeful for the future – for myself, for Heidi and for everyone else who is in the same boat.