Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Open Letter

Dear Friend,

Do you ever worry that you won't be able to fit into the conventional idea of what success is?  When I was a kid I would talk about how important money was and that when I was older I would live in a mansion with a guest house for my mom to live in.  I guess that I always assumed money was the most important thing that could lead to a happy life.

When I was in high school I got it set in my little head that I wanted to be a clinical psychologist and that I should definitely study that in college.  So I did. And I never doubted it throughout my college career until I was a senior and realized that I just wasn't feeling it anymore.  I still love the idea of having a career that revolves around helping people but I have no interest in a career that has me in a room with no coworkers and only crazy people (i.e. people like me).

Maybe that's why I didn't like my most recent job.  I hated working alone everyday in a building filled with people who didn't work for the same company.  I very much dislike being lonely.  But who doesn't hate that? Exactly.

So, now I talk about going to school for baking and pastry arts.  Because I truly love baking.  And I love the way that a cupcake or a cookie can brighten someone's day.  Because I'm good at it.  Or so people say.

But how can I know that is something I really want to do? How do I know that it's not something that will be another waste of time and money?  How do I know that in the end I can make a career out of something like that?  I don't know.  Maybe that's good though.  Not knowing.

By definition blogs are selfish.  They're about talking about your thoughts so that you can normalize the way you think. Feel.  With a community of strangers who need the same recognition.  Man. I love the community.

I would love to write old fashioned letters.  And share my hopes and dreams with someone who you know will read it.  Because there's no way to know if this internet letter is reaching anyone on a personal level.  But that's what you're for friend.  For sharing and divulging secrets.

Here's one: I'm terrified that I won't be able to maintain this life I love if I can't figure out what I'm doing in the next few weeks.  How's that for a doozie?

I clearly have too much time on my hands with this whole unemployment thing.  Look what I'm doing to this letter.  Babbling on about myself.  Ha.  How are you old friend?  Did everything work out for you in the end?  I hope that life is treating you well.  And I hope to hear from you soon.

Your Friend,



  1. I faced a very similar conundrum a few years ago. I was out of grad school (from a program I didn't finish because I just wasn't feeling it anymore) and looking for work. I considered going to art school - for a second bachelors in a field totally unrelated to my first. I even got accepted. But I decided that I couldn't affort it, and I wasn't sure it was really what I wanted to do. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And for a long time, I felt terrible not living up to some undefined potential because I wasn't rocketing to success in the "right" career.

    But I realized along the way that I have job now that is low stress, and I work with great people. It's just an admin job, but it pays the bills. In fact, I decided that if I can have a job that I don't mind going to every day and that lets me do all the things I love outside of work, then that's a pretty good deal for the "mean time." I have all the time in the world to figure out what my dream job is and to go back to school.

    So for now, I'm content with where I am. So remember, any old job may offer you the time and space to feel secure, try new things and figure out what your passion is. There's no hurt in trying something even if it doesn't work out. You'll have learned more about who you are and what you want. That's a valuable thing.

    Good luck!

  2. I was told something once, that some people have to work to live, and some people just live to work. It's ok to find a job that isn't exactly what you thought you would do originally, as long as you can find some happiness while you work, whether that's coworkers, the work itself, or whatever. It's also the case that every job is work, no matter if it's something you love to do or not - even baking will become work eventually. That's not to say you wouldn't love it just the same, just to say that no job is perfect, just perfect enough.

    I've found that to stay happy in a job, you have to be able to be proud of what you do in at least some small way, and you have to be able to make enough money to get by - in that order.

  3. i feel ya on all those points. especially since my sister, who thought she was getting edged out of a promotion, and therefore felt my work pain, came home tonight and announces that she indeed got the promotion. all the while here i am in a situation i can best describe as work limbo.

    i think you should still go for the baking stuff though. cuz even if it does become a "job" as long as you're careful i think you'd be able to enjoy it for a long time.

  4. Thank you so much for the insights. I'll be more open to jobs I may not find to be my cup of tea so that I can have a steady income again. I think I miss the money to live my life the most.

  5. Thanks miss. I hope your work situation gets better - or at least bearable. I just want everything to be great for everyone ever!

  6. Exactly! Right about now I'd kill for most any job. But I'd be extra happy to get a job that would make me feel like I'm having an impact - and have some moolah.

  7. You never know when a hobby might become a career...

    My wife's cousin works as a dental assistant, loves it. She also baked cakes and cookies for sale. Now the dental assistant job is part time and she has her own little shop where she bakes cakes and cookies as well as making fancy candies. Doing well on both fronts.

    FWIW I am a biology major. I work in industrial construction as field supervisor, about the closest I get to my degree field is when the honey wagon comes around to clean the porta lets. :-0

    The older I get the more I realize it is more important to be happy, whether that is by having money (not to me) or time to do things that I love (bicycling).


  8. Interesting update...the cousin I commented on in the previous post; quit the dental assistant work and has gone full time on the cookies, cakes and candies! She said this has been the best Christmas yet in terms of business.


  9. That's fantastic! Good for her!

    I'm going to keep my options open and optimistic so that I can just enjoy what life has already given me.

    And while I'm unemployed I might as well perfect some recipes. :)

  10. If pastry school is what you want, I say go for it. But consider whether you would still enjoy baking while working long hours on it, or if you might be happy with a pleasant office job that allows you to bake in your free time. I know how you feel. After attaining what society defines as "success," I found myself hating my job, resigned and experienced a stressful few months of unemployment while looking for something that I really wanted. I agree with Missy that for real life it's most important to have a job you don't mind going to every day and that leaves time to enjoy life outside of work. There's so much focus in our society on having a career that's completely fulfilling, but I'd rather work to pay the bills and contribute to society, and find the deepest fulfillment outside of the office.