When I was sucked up into the American dream I was happy to give my entire life over to my job. It was my passion. At least that’s what I told myself. It was “the job, the one, what I was meant to do, and my life”. My passion didn’t pay enough and when my husband announced that he wanted to retire early and start a new career it became clear that I would have to find a new a job with upward mobility. One that paid and had benefits.
I became a part of the real world. Where you grudgingly show up to work and try making it through the day. Where you live for vacation. Kiss butt to work your way up a ladder you don’t want to climb. Where you act like people are your friends and that you care about someone’s little Suzy. Where you convince yourself you need to be to pay the bills.
They call it depression. Where you get sucked into a life with no purpose. Where you read motivational articles to get yourself psyched up to make big life change when in reality you don’t need the motivation. Your life sucking job provides all the oomph you need to get up and out of there! All the motivation articles do is piss you off. It’s like getting all dressed up with no place to go.
I managed a small nonprofit on a shoe string budget with no staff so guess what that taught me? It taught me to work my ass off for the sake of the mission. It taught me to do twenty peoples jobs for no pay. It taught me to work harder and leaner and get more done than humanly possible. Corporate America gripes because they have to do more work for no more pay. Spare me! I would cherish the opportunity to work hard, but no company will give me the opportunity.
Back to the depression. My purpose was gone, enough work to drive you mad had vanished, and I was left with nothing. The job will get better they say. It hasn’t. This is part of your midlife crisis. No. I am just bored and frustrated because my talent is being wasted. Is this what I went back to school for? You will get through this. You mean I will get used to this.
Why we have to have a side project?
Some of us don’t need you to light our rockets. We are lit. We are raring to go and have nothing to pour our energy into. We believe that our lives should have purpose that we were made for something greater and that the 9-5 is never going to fulfill our desires. We already know how to manage our time to get more done so what do we do with all our time?
Enter in the side project.
That thing we hope will develop into a side hustle, that craft or hobby we enjoy doing, that side business we want to start, or that thing that helps us find our purpose and cultivate a passion for life.
I would like to go back and tell myself before I started at the nonprofit that my job should have never become my all. When I left that job I left my life and started on a downward slope that I can’t escape from. The thing is there may be a job out there again that will fulfill my purpose in life and allow me to pour my passion into helping others, but I should never be the sum total of my work.
What about doing something for the enjoyment of it?
What about developing myself as a whole person?
What about going to work and then going home to do something really great?
I have an unquenchable thirst to do more. I would rather be eternally thirsty than to be satisfied with the status quo. Being hungry for more drives me to analyze my life and question the path that I am on.
Someone told me once that for now I just need to feed the pigs. Right now I need to go to work so that I can pay the bills. While I do that I can work on the dream. The dream is my side project and I hope it is yours.
You were made to do something great and that encompasses much more than where you are today. If you lost your job today would you lose your purpose? When your kids leave home will you be lost? If what you do today is no longer there will you have a way to fulfill your purpose and live out your passion?
I hope so. I am working on developing my side project, are you?
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