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3 Months

February 2, 2013

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I’ve had a job for three months.

It’s a great job. It pays well, I’m not micromanaged, I’ve learned a bunch of new programs; I can show up at 10 or work through lunch and if the roads are seriously covered in snow I can even work from home. My coworkers are helpful, I’ve got my own space heater and since my dad is pretty much my boss I never have to worry if he likes me. Not to mention the tiny confidence boost I get knowing that I am one of four girls in the entire office building (counting the two secretaries). But guys, as great as this engineering job seems, I’m freaking out.

You know how in movies the attractive male lead always has some rule like no dating past two weeks or cut and run after a month? Well it’s like that for me and jobs. I have NEVER had a job more than 3 months. Maybe it’s just worked out that way or maybe it’s an issue I have with commitment… but for whatever reason it has never happened. I had sporadic summer jobs throughout high school and college and since graduation that trend has only continued. This past year I coached basketball, got an internship, took care of my grandpa and this summer I worked as a counselor – something I’ve always wanted to do. Seasonal jobs just fit me, and every time I had the option to renew I bailed to try something new. So afraid was I to do the same thing twice that this fall I moved home and landed here, in a real person job, not really realizing what I’d gotten myself into.

So here I am, working a desk job, with no end in sight. Here, there aren’t tasks that can be completed in a week, or even a month. There aren’t projects that I get to call my own. There isn’t a rotating crop of people I get to meet or a celebratory party I can look forward to when we secure a client. This is real job, one where I show up, sit at a desk, and work until the clock strikes 5 (sometimes 6 if I sleep in). I photo copy things and look up keyboard shortcuts so I can move faster, I eat lunch at my desk because that is what everyone else does. I even have my own desk phone. This is a real job and one millions of people will emulate every day for the rest of their lives.

But what if that isn’t me? When did I agree to become this person? Who am I to think I deserve more than this? Why does doing the same thing every day scare me to the bone? Is movement really such an unreasonable thing to ask?

6930319041_058f87466e_zBack in college our classes changed every 10 weeks and our schedules were always unpredictable. Deadlines were the name of the game and 1st and lasts became standard. We learned to thrive on change and find some balance even though the ground under us was moving. But now only a year out, everything has already become so settled. My friends have long-term jobs, long-term relationships, and long-term leases; they’re making long-term choices and accepting long-term commitments. All those deadlines and pivot points I used to rely on have melted away, and now when I look to my future I see only an empty calendar. No graduation, no finals, no move, no last week of work. I don’t even have a concert or wedding or a vacation booked to look forward to.

But I shouldn’t complain; half of my friends work Saturday nights and either can’t get someone to switch or are so broke they’d rather work than take it off for a concert. The others are so overloaded they get home and pass out in front of the tv or before they can even make dinner. I know, I’ve got it good. A few more months here will be worth it; experience, recommendations, pay check – there are a hundred reasons why I should stay. But what does it mean when I find myself scanning Craigslist or Googleing travel visas over lunch? Am I unhappy enough to warrant a change? Where do I draw the line between what is good for me now and what will be good for me later?

I’m fine. I know I am and I know I will be. It’s part of being 20-something to question yourself, and when I start to get scared I take a deep breath and remind myself the not knowing is a good thing. I still have plenty of change ahead of me, even if it seems like everyone else is set. My empty calendar means I have all the time in the world to figure out what I want, and all the time in the world to make anything happen. 3 months is nothing.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2013 5:56 pm

    So true. I’ve had my first adult job for about five months now, and the only thing keeping me sane is knowing that it’s not a job I want for the rest of my life. I’m still thinking of it as a “for now” job, but when I first started I also had a mini freak out. Knowing there wasn’t an end in sight and no set breaks was scary to think about. Long-term adult life is definitely a mental challenge.

    • February 2, 2013 9:12 pm

      Glad I’m not alone! And good call on the ‘for now’ wording. I think you just gave me a new mantra.

  2. thelittlemerskank permalink*
    February 3, 2013 1:59 am

    I had a kind of similar issue when I had to apply to PhD programs. In all reality it wasn’t the time commitment that scared me (although if you are scared about 3 months, Sleeping Booty, start contemplating 4-7 years…). What scared me more was picking a research topic. I mean sure, there are TONS of different things about the Middle Ages that are exciting to me, but to spend 3+ years working on a single idea– well, man, you better pick a good one. In my research habits, I have always been a bit like you on the job force: I like to float around, taste what is good here but learn something new there. I even have gone so far as to switch up my disciplines– history?! english?! theology?! They are awesome right? Committing to one big project just went against my grain. I knew that I would be committing my life to this one thing, when there was a world outside with all sorts of exciting and new things to learn.

    I do want to say though that I did put in a proposal and now have a ‘project’– and really, although I still love trying new things, I have come to appreciate that sometimes for an endeavor to be really fruitful it needs a deep foundation. I am not saying at all that you should stay at your current job, but I do think that someday you will find a job where you want to work for at least a couple years- so you can build a foundation, and watch yourself grow.

  3. February 3, 2013 6:32 am

    I’d say it’s too soon to freak out. Even though it might seem like a lot of people have committed to something long-term, chances are a lot of those people will end up ditching their real job in another six months, or changing careers several more times in their lives. I completely understand not wanting to stay at your current job forever, or even for a significant portion of forever, but give it six months or a year. And then take a hiatus, travel to Jordan with all that hard-earned cash, see the world, and start something new when you get back.

    I understand what you mean about having a hard time switching from the rhythm of starts and finishes that is college to the real-world where you don’t get a break every ten weeks. But that’s one of the reasons teaching appeals to me. In some ways you are doing the same thing every day, year after year, but in other ways it’s more like college. New quarters, new units every few weeks, new students every year, AND we have vacations to look forward to throughout the year. So far at least, I like those perks, despite the fact that the pay is crap. But check back with me in another three months, or three years.

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  1. Condition of the Month – November: Quarter-life Crisis | Twenty Something Condition

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