More Dreams And Carpe Diem Notions

It’s entirely possible that last night’s dream was a kind of warning, in a way. Though it’s just as likely that it was my brain’s way of expressing guilt and, like, concern.

Either way, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant, and I saw some people in the dream who I haven’t seen in life for a long time, so that was cool. Same with the dream I had the night before – so much was going on, and it largely revolved around people who haven’t really been in my life for several years…more than a decade, in most cases. It’s interesting (to me) that both dreams involved people and situations from roughly the same period of time in my waking life, and yet they didn’t seem to be connected at all. It was a period of much change in my world, and those two dreams managed to reflect very different facets of some of those changes.

Unless last night’s was really just a guilt dream, after all. But still. It chose an interesting route with which to express itself, that’s for sure.

I think whether it was warning or guilt, too, it probably has some merit to it, as well. It definitely got me thinking this morning, and even though I am just as exhausted as I have been in recent days, anyway, that dream has given me a bit more focus today, and that’s a good thing. Maybe nothing will come of any of it, but for now, it’s really got me intent on at least investigating a few avenues. It lit a small fire under my butt, so at the very least, I am using that as incentive today!

I’ve also started planning the next radio play reading, and have begun to reach out to possible cast members to see who might be available. I want to get the announcement of Reelie award winners out of the way before we do this next play, as the script is short and we should have time to do both. All of that should also bring me closer to being able to launch the Mind Reels Patreon page – which would be kind of cool to do for my birthday, but at the same time, I won’t be able to promote it much around then because I’ll be at Fan Expo meeting my boy Luke Skywalker!

So I’ll probably be distracted.

But we’ll see how it goes.

Back to the dream – like, it took place in the school where I did my practicum during my year of teacher’s college. After graduation, I went back several times to visit everyone, and just spend some time in a classroom when I could. I miss being able to do that, I realized. I miss that school in particular, and it’s funny how any time I think about trying to go back to a teaching environment, my mind always imagines it to be done there; at that school, and with those people. Many if not most of the teachers don’t even work there anymore, and even the Principal is someone I don’t know now. The students have, of course, moved on long ago. My little grade 6 kids would be in their 20’s by now! What the hell?! How old am I?! I can’t even imagine it, who they are now; the adults they have grown up to be.

I have no idea what the future holds for me and my non-existent teaching career. What’s more is that I have no idea what I’d even want where education is concerned, if anything. I used to have this whole plan laid out, and then everything came together and fell apart – then came together even more and thus fell apart again more completely – so now I’m just…I don’t know. I go back and forth on it all the time, really. Sometimes to extremes where my feelings about it are concerned. I’m a pretty terrible teacher in the traditional sense, I know. But there are so many non-traditional opportunities out there now; so many different ways of doing things, and more room for forging ones own path a little bit. Not to mention the fact that I am really not the same person I was then. I’ve upgraded. Haha

A large part of the realistic issue, of course, is salary. Like always, I have responsibilities that go beyond taking care of my own needs, and I’m not willing to risk failing in fulfilling those just so I can try something out. I would have to find some sort of balance between risk and security in that, too, if ever I were to take the leap again. Or any leap, really, especially where employment is concerned. These days, I’m mostly just very grateful to have a job which pays the bills and allows me to keep everybody fed with a roof over our heads. Even on my worst days, I am highly reluctant to mess with that again, because I’ve been there when it falls through and I’ve lost it all. I’m not eager to take that chance again.

Just because I’m being cautious, though, doesn’t mean my eyes aren’t open. If there is something more out there for me, I still intend to seize it when I can.

Push-Me, Pull-You

So mad and frustrated right now.

I was going to write a bit about reasons why leaving one job and starting a new one is scary to me. Kind of like a Pros and Cons list. Only now I’m angry – again – and so frustrated with how this work day is going that reasons for staying are harder to remember. Which will make writing this more of a struggle now.

However.

It still would have been easier if they’d just lay me off and package me out, because that one decision would be made for me, and I’d take care of the rest out of necessity. It’d be the boot to the butt I need, rather than constantly trying to weigh the options and figure out which works best for me and the critters. Because that is stressful.

Adulting sucks.

Lots of reasons to cut my losses and move on. My sanity being right up there, along with my sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Even when I accomplish some victory here now, even biggish ones, the sense of ability and value as an employee is fleeting at best. And after more than 15 years in the same place, not only have I moved steadily DOWN the ladder, but my annual income is less now than it was a decade ago…in the same place. That takes some talent, methinks! Only…not.

So why stay?

Even though I struggle month to month, I am not confident that I could get as much or more working anywhere else. I’ve been here so long that a huge part of me isn’t sure I actually have any marketable skills that would be of value anywhere else. It’s like I learned to speak this language fairly well, but no other employer in the world speaks this same language, so why would they hire me over someone who speaks several languages? And I can’t afford to get by on less. Expenses go up every year, but my salary has not. I can’t take a chance on making less anymore.

Benefits – though many employers offer them, I’m concerned with how quickly MS-related prescriptions burn through my current annual allowance, and I’m not sure how well that would go over with another employer. Not to mention all the appointments I have to keep through the work week on a rather frequent schedule. I’m not sure how much leeway I’d be afforded anywhere else to come in late or leave early before another employer got tired of it, and of me.

Vacation time. I don’t really take a lot of it, anyway, but because I’ve been here so long, I accrue 3 weeks a year instead of the usual 2 weeks that I used to get, and most people still do. It’s not a deal-breaker, starting over at the bottom again somewhere else, but it’s definitely something to consider. I have about 3 weeks banked right now, mostly left over from last year, and starting over somewhere else would likely mean I wouldn’t have any paid vacation available at all for at least the initial probation period, let alone anything in the not-too-distant future I might want to take time off for. Right now, I can pretty much take any time I want (except for blackout periods), but I wouldn’t likely have that freedom somewhere new.

I think it’s definitely a safety blanket scenario, and I think it has been for a very long time. I was unemployed for about a month and a half before I got a job here, and I am terrified of that happening again. I was homeless and riding friends’ couches for a few months back in 2009, too, which I could only do because I didn’t have my cat with me at the time. I am also terrified of having that happen again, and I’m really only one paycheque away from it at any given time as it is. One missed pay and everything could be lost. That’s a crazy heavy burden, when you think about it. I have a responsibility to the critters who depend on me to do whatever I can to make sure that doesn’t happen, and so I keep staying put, for fear that whatever choice I make for something new will be the wrong choice and land me back in an impossible situation.

At the same time, though, this safety blanket isn’t really keeping me warm anymore, and feels like it’s coming apart.

Maybe it’s time to retire it and set out on a quest for new accomplishments, instead.

Of course, for that I would need a little confidence boost, and those are pretty rare in my current situation. Push-me, pull-you.  Stay or go?  And the world spins ’round, and life floats by, while I stand in frozen contemplation.

Inventory Day

I was thinking I should start selling houses of cards online – some assembly required.

This is what Inventory Day at work does to me.  Every year.

This was number 16 in a row for me.  And yet, nothing changes.  Or it does, but it generally gets worse.  Apparently we refuse to learn from year to year.

I mean, it’s not rocket surgery.  It’s counting.  Most of us learn that pretty early on in life.  But it’s almost surprising how fried I am by the end of the day each year.  Hell, by the time lunch arrives each year.

I think part of it is the constant struggle to find a work-around for the glitches that come up. Everyone comes to work, even though we all hate it.  We just want to get it done and go home.  But it never ever goes smoothly.  At all.    And no one wants to stand around doing nothing while we wait for it all to get fixed.  So we try to find ways to make it work, as best we can.  I think it’s the near constant struggle to complete simple tasks that burns everyone out every year.  It’s exhausting.

It’s interesting that, even though I’ve now completed 16 counts in a row, I am actually further and further removed from the organization or execution of the event.  Even though I could help to make it go more smoothly, I find I do less and less overall with each passing year.  It’s interesting, but not surprising.

Regardless, another year is done, and I am now home with the fur babies, washing down my anger, frustration and fatigue with some free-pour rum and cokes.

And tomorrow is Monday.

What To Do?

To be honest, I have something specific on my mind today – a super secret project – but it’s a surprise, so I can’t talk about it publicly at all, and that’s killing me! Haha

If you are one of the folks who knows what I’m talking about, you shouldn’t mention it publicly anywhere, either. The first rule of Fight Club is… 😉

Anyway, I’ll talk about other stuff, instead.

As you can likely tell from some of my previous posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life. Or how I want my life to look, both day to day, and in the future. It seems a tad late to be trying to figure this all out, but they say better late than never, and I think it’s probably good to have goals and things to aspire to. It would likely make a difference to do something I can get excited about occasionally, too, and to feel like I am contributing and have value.

I know I’d love to work with animals, but unless I can get paid enough at some kind of doggie daycare, or something, I don’t think that would work out financially for me and the critters in my care. I do hope to supplement my existence with an opportunity to volunteer with the Toronto Wildlife Centre, preferably in their Nursery, feeding baby squirrels and the like, until they can be re-released back into the wild. I would gladly do that for no pay, and I think between something like that and the sillies who live with me – and regular zoo trips, of course – I could at least get my animal therapy fix often enough to make me feel content.

The Mind Reels is still growing and has become a wonderful creative outlet, in addition to writing and crafting and all the little things I keep trying to find time to work on.

But what of my day job? I don’t need to love it to be content, but I do need to feel like I am contributing instead of failing all day, every day. It’s a heavy thing to walk around with all the time, and I’m not sure how long I can really keep doing it. I am actually afraid that everywhere will feel like this, but logically I know it won’t. I guess I’m just worried that most of it comes from inside me, and that I won’t be able to leave it behind.

That’s for another blog post, though. This one is more to explore things I think I might like to do, instead of just the constant retail environment I seem to have needed 2 Bachelor degrees to spend the rest of my life doing. It’s great to have been employed pretty much constantly since I got out of University, but I can’t say as I really have developed any marketable skills as a result of said employment, apart from more retail, of course.

But I have learned and done things as a result of being alive, and I’m hoping to delve into more of those things with respect to potential future employment, instead. I feel like The Mind Reels and my Guinness World Record event garnered me some basic experience in marketing/promotion/public relations areas, as well as … what would I call it? Interviewing skills? Hosting a show, conducting casual interviews, and now running celebrity panels at fan conventions – those things aren’t easy to do, especially for shy people. Yet I feel quite comfortable in those environments now. On camera or off, in front of a crowd or in a quiet room (or a hotel lobby with no sleep), with a stranger or someone I’ve met before. I feel like I’ve gotten better at it all as I go along, and that I don’t freeze up with nerves and stage-fright is a good thing.

Of course, I have a great interview partner, so that definitely helps, too! 😉

I’ve learned a lot about promoting and publicizing things in recent years, particularly when it comes to using social media effectively. I’d be even better at it if it was my job and I could focus on it more! I’d love to administrate social media feeds for an employer, and since everyone has social media pages all over the internet these days, I feel like I could really grow something like that and be a positive influence on branding for a company or what-have-you.

Actually, there are a few other areas of interest that I have right now, but that one seems the most suited to the skills I already have, with tons of room for growth.

As well, my lunch break is over, so I should stop typing and get back to work!

More on this tomorrow, perhaps!

Lacking Confidence

I hate looking for a job.

I don’t think I used to dislike it this much, but I guess a lot has changed over the years.  I’ve changed.  Once full of cautious confidence and an abundance of dreams and goals to aspire to, I was able to find not only a decent work-life balance, but also felt a sense of pride in my work, even though I was performing pretty simple tasks.  I did them well, and I was pleased with my abilities and how I felt about myself each day. I felt competent, no matter what I was doing.  And I felt like I earned every step of forward progress I made, no matter how small.

If I decided I deserved more, I went out and got it.  I had no problem chasing the next job opportunity.

Then I went after something completely different, and made more money than I ever had up to that point.

And sucked at it.

To this day, I’m still not entirely sure what went wrong, really.  I thought at the time that I didn’t get the support I needed to succeed, but at the same time, if I’d really had the required skills, I’d have been able to work with more autonomy and forged my own success.  Instead, I was constantly questioning what to do, and would end up doing it wrong, anyway.  Or not quickly enough, or well enough, or whatever.  I still don’t really know, and therein lies the real problem.

For the first time, I was doing something I wasn’t suited to, and it was a disaster.  I couldn’t make it work.  And it wasn’t rocket surgery.  At all.  But I don’t have the right…mindset.  Or attitude.  From the outside, it all looks very simple.  When it’s done well, it seems effortless.  But the people who are good at administrative tasks and assisting executive types don’t generally get the kind of respect their abilities deserve.  And for people who are NOT skilled in those areas, it’s even worse.

It looks from the outside like the person doing the assisting is less specialized.  Less skilled.  But I think that people are just adept at different things.  Maybe the excutive needs an assistant because he CAN’T do the things his assistant can do.  Maybe he’s totally disorganized and can’t remember when he has appointments or craft intelligent and well-worded emails.  Maybe he doesn’t know how to create a spreadsheet or a strong PowerPoint presentation.  Everything can be taught and learned, but it can’t always be learned to do well.  Like doctors and nurses.  Many think nurses are nurses because they CAN’T be doctors, when in reality, doctors could not perform their duties nearly as well (or often at all), without the support of nurses and the rest of their medical team.  Everyone has a part to play in the team’s success, and when one can’t play their part well, the whole team struggles.

I was let go at the end of my probabtion period, because it wasn’t working out.  Not for them, and not for me.  I’d never tried so hard to do something but still failed so miserably at it.  It was frustrating because it had seemed so easy before I actually tried it.  It was pretty humiliating.  And it was scary, because suddenly I wondered what else I couldn’t do well.  What other simple tasks were beyond my comprehension and/or skill set?

I was unemployed for a month and a half, relying on friends and family to feed me and help pay rent.  Then I finally got a job with my current employer – and while the woman who hired me was concerned that I was over-qualified, I was relieved to have a job I could hopefully do – and there I remain, for better or for worse.

I did attempt to enter the teaching profession for the better part of a decade, but had zero success in that area.  And I think a large part of my problem now is fear.  Fear and uncertainty.  I don’t have the same confidence in my abilities as I used to.  And I am terrified of losing or leaving one job and being unemployed three months later if I fail again.

I think that’s why I hate looking for a job more now.  I have four little lives – in addition to my own – counting on me to keep us fed and a roof over our heads.  My mind and body don’t work the same as they used to, and I have an even lesser sense of what needs to be done.  I’m not in the same position I was when I was younger.  I don’t feel like I have the luxury of failing.

And that’s crippling to me.

If I don’t try, I won’t fail.  So now when I look at job openings, I imagine what the daily life of each would look like, and apply if I think I might have a shot at succeeding, or more often if I think I’ll have no shot at even landing an interview.  I feel like applying alone is still accomplishing something, even if it’s just a feeling inside.

But the truth is I really have no idea what I am capable of outside of my current workplace, and I only have a limited knowledge of what I am not capable of, because it’s been over a decade since I ventured to try something different.  Pretty much everything I know about myself an an employee is based on this one employer.  It’s a bubble I’ve existed in almost exclusively for over 15 years.  Largely because I am afraid of what will happen if I fail anywhere else.  Yet now I am failing inside my bubble, too, and I have no idea what to do about it.

It appears I’ve put myself into a trap of my own making.  It’s scary and disheartening and yet still kind of exciting, in a way.  Because if I actually control the trap, maybe there’s a chance I can dig myself out of it.  For now, I’m still just window shopping, because I’m far too afraid to make a move.  But the time is fast approaching where I will have no choice but to make some kind of change, be it a new apartment or a new job.

And I love my apartment.

I can’t wait to see what I end up doing.

 

Generations

I’m a child of the 80’s. Even though I was born in the early 70’s, I feel like it was the 80’s that really defined me. Or began my definition, at least. The music, the TV shows, the movies…not the fashion so much, maybe, but was anyone really defined by 80’s fashion? Well, maybe acid wash.

At any rate, the 80’s were what I’d consider my real formative years. Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, The Boss, WHAM, Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams (on vinyl, of course); Silver Spoons, Facts of Life, Family Ties and V watched as it aired, until we got a VCR; Goonies, Back To The Future, ET: The Extra Terrestrial, the Karate Kid, and of course the remaining two films in the original Star Wars trilogy on the big screen. So much neon. High top running shoes. White freaking pants. Over-sized sweaters and t-shirts. Riding our bikes around town. Heading home when the streetlights came on. Walking to the convenience store/gas station at the top of town for snacks on a Friday night. Having to take a bus to high school because it was in a different, slightly larger town.

And then, once we were in high school, the world seemed bigger and the possibilities kinda endless. I did a lot of things academically in high school, but I wish I’d done more. It was really the only time you could really experiment with things and not have to commit to a whole stream of study. You could try a sport or a club or a class or other extracurricular activity and not have to make it your life. I think I mostly did stuff I already liked – music, for the most part – and didn’t really try much for the hell of it. I took a visual arts class just because I could. And joined a couple of sports teams early on, but that was pretty short-lived. Still, there was lots to do and learn, if one wanted to, and I’d say I was involved at an average level. It was high school. I wasn’t super popular, but I had a few friends and we had fun together and that’s what matters.

When I came time to start choosing what to do after graduation, I don’t remember really thinking about it very much. I assumed I was going to university, and I had no idea what for, but I was sure it’d be great. I can’t remember what I thought I was going to do…I’m pretty sure “English Major” wasn’t my end game, and I started university as a Psych major, but for the first year, that rarely means anything. I took Psych 100 and 4 other 100-level classes that were the norm. English, Philosophy, Sociology…yeah, I can’t even remember that much. Maybe I took 2 English-like courses? I don’t know. I didn’t have to declare a major in any of the things I was taking, because they weren’t that locked down. Not like being a doctor, or something, where you have to take specific courses most of your post-secondary career.

In my final year of high school, I remember my mom talking about how there were basically only, like, 2 different streams to choose from, and whichever you chose made up the rest of your educational track. But for me, at the time, the world was my oyster. I could do anything I wanted, be anything I wanted. All I had to do was choose and work for it and it would be mine.

The only real problem is I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do. I had no idea. Definitely never aspired to retail, but that still leaves a lot of options. Maybe I couldn’t choose just one, out of all the things I thought I might like to do with my life.

I still have no idea, actually.

Looking back, I almost wish I hadn’t had as much choice. I mean, it’s hard to know what you’d like to do if it’s something you haven’t actually done yet. Haven’t tried, I mean. Maybe I should have done some co-op placements or internships somewhere, but in little towns, that doesn’t really come up as an option. I know I thought about going into Public Relations, which NOW would be pretty awesome, if I’d done that. I think. I’ve never done anything in that field, though, so I don’t really know. I don’t think I would have liked being a journalist, because I don’t like talking to people. I’d probably love working with animals, but maybe I just love being around them. It’s hard to know for sure, because I’ve never worked with them.

I thought it would be terrible to go through school for something, only to find that you don’t really like it, and have to start all over again.

Yet here I am, with two bachelor degrees (one in English, one in Education), and I’ve spent the majority of my adult life working in retail, because – of course. What the hell does one do with an English degree? Teach. And yet I have never found employment as a teacher, either, so…retail it is.

Those who can’t do, teach. But what those who can’t teach do? Work in retail, apparently.

I wonder how different things would be if I’d had less choice? Would I be better off? Or worse? Or just different?

I can totally just change my career at any point – or, like, GET a career. But again, what do I want to do?

I have no idea.

Does an abundance of choice end up stalling a person, I wonder? Maybe I’m still just going over my choices to see what I want to be when I grow up.

Adulting is hard.

(How’s THAT for good English talking?)

I wonder sometimes what it’s like for kids now. So much has changed since I was young. “Back in MY day…”

I had my first email address when I was in 4th year University (so 22 or 23 years old), and my first cell phone when I was 30 years old. Growing up we got 2 channels, sometimes 3 if the weather was nice.

Now I have to choose which shows to watch On Demand, because my PVR will only record two at a time. And that’s not even advanced technology, because I am broke.

I know other 80’s kids relate to the basics of growing up in that era. We all watched pretty much the same shows, listened to the same music, saw the same movies. We can smile and reminisce together even if we haven’t seen one another over the past 20 years or more.

Do the generations since then have the same kind of connection? Or does more choice create a gap in the generational experience? With hundreds of channels and even more content available online, are the teens of 2016 watching the same television shows and movies? Are they enjoying the same music and playing the same songs over and over and rocking the same silly dance moves? Will they connect with others of their generation two decades from now, based on shared memories of a time they all lived through, without having met one another until much later in life?

Will those defined by these years of multiple choices find common ground with one another the way children of the 80’s do? Or children of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s…every decade has had its common experience, at least until more recently.

I wonder if they still do? Or are we just all floating in a sea of our own choosing, connecting on many different shared experiences, instead of a few?

Maybe I should have put this much thought into what I wanted to do when I grew up, huh?

What Am I Doing?

“This job you have, sure it pays the bills, but are you happy?”

“Does it matter?”

“It’s your LIFE.”

  • Oliver and Maggie, This Life

This exchange between siblings on the TV series This Life was short but powerful to me, because it kind of expressed what my brain has been trying to tell me for a long time now.  Namely, what the hell am I doing?

I don’t need my job to make me happy.  I have other things on the go that work towards doing that, and a day job is just one piece of my life.  Albeit a fairly large piece, time and energy-wise.

While it is not the key to happiness, though, it IS important to feeling content.  And for me that’s what’s been missing.  For many years, I felt valued, and useful, and like I was contributing to something.  In recent years, however, I’ve been feeling more like a body that’s only there to fill a spot in the schedule.  I’ve been disheartened, and felt under-valued and vastly under-used.  Like my talents are being wasted.  Like I am being wasted.  And that has led to feeling like I have nothing to offer at all.

I sometimes believe I feel trapped, but I think it’s more that I just feel inconsequential.  Like my skills aren’t being utilized because maybe I just don’t have any.  Which is silly, of course, but since when did feelings ever make logical sense?  It definitely has not helped my depression nor my alcoholic tendencies at all, that’s for sure!

When someone asks, “What do you do?” I find it increasingly difficult not to respond with something like, “Mostly I just flail in frustration, sometimes cry, and often refrain from flipping my desk and storming out in a rage.”

Is that any way to go through the majority of your days?

And again, I don’t need to be happy at my job.  I just need it to feel like less of a waste.

I realize whining about it won’t help (but I reserve the right to do so, anyway), and that any real changes need to come from me.  So my dilemma now is this: I have no idea which changes to make, or where to even start.

Do I put in a more concerted effort to force change there?  Do I look elsewhere for something that won’t leave me feeling like a waste of space every day?  If so, what would I even look FOR.  I know I intend to volunteer with animals in the spring.  Should I wait and see if that helps elevate my general mood and sense of purpose?  Do I try to save up money to take a class of some sort?

What do I even WANT to do?  It’s gotten a tad late to decide what I want to be when I grow up, yet I’m finding it difficult (if not impossible) to decide what I want to be tomorrow.  Or next month.  Or next year.  It’s like I can’t even see an employment future for myself.  All I see are endless days of putting my head down and trying to feel less worse than I did the day before.

My day job is not who I am.  But it’s a big piece of my life.  And since it’s a big piece that I don’t even like, I need to start finding a way to change that.  Change how it makes me feel.

Now to figure out where and how to start.