Have I mentioned lately how much I hate my job? It is especially distressful to me these days because I am running a financing deal involving multiple moving parts and coordination has never been my strong suit. The more responsibility I have for keeping things under control, the more stressed and nervous I feel about it. I literally wake up in a sweat dreading the day ahead (even though I have to confess that things never turn out as badly as I fear they will). That was one of the reasons I gave notice that I was leaving the firm way back in November of 2011. (Needless to say, I am still at the firm, although I have been able to scale back my workload considerably. I did actually want to leave, but for various reasons – primarily FINANCIAL reasons – I haven’t been able to. For other thoughts on this matter, see “The Blizzard of 2016 and Some Thoughts about My Job”, 1/27/16; “Career Inertia”, 6/15/16.)
Despite despising it, I am morbidly dependent on my job. I am also extremely fortunate to have it, especially given the situation I’ve wangled for myself, where I largely dictate my workload and usually only take on tasks that don’t stress me out. Yes, it’s true, EVERYTHING about work stresses me out, but the smaller matters don’t worry me as much because they usually involve a discrete slice of a larger transaction and I don’t have to coordinate anything. That’s the key. Given my seniority, one might expect that I could easily be “in charge” of deals by now, but that’s the whole point, the reason I wanted so badly to leave: I DO NOT LIKE BEING IN CHARGE. I don’t like having to make decisions. I don’t like being RESPONSIBLE for things. It’s hard enough being responsible for things in my personal life: my home, my kid, my creatures, my FINANCES (ugh). The thought of being responsible for things over which I ultimately have very little control (and in which I frankly have very little interest) ties me in knots.
It’s not that I don’t think I’m capable – well, yes, it IS partly that – but I just don’t relish the thought of being blamed if and when something (inevitably) goes wrong, especially when it’s a rush deal with a lot of pieces to manage. My brain doesn’t handle it well. I’ve admitted this to my boss and he’s sympathetic (perhaps too much so, in the eyes of some of the other partners in the group), but let’s face it – I’m a big old WIMP and I won’t apologize and I’m too old to change. I’ve also discovered that I’m much better at TAKING instructions than I am at GIVING them.
There’s a saying posted on my refrigerator that I look at many times a day (I make frequent trips to the fridge during my work-at-home day, one of my common avoidance tactics, which is also terrible for the waistline): “Find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It was meant as inspiration for my daughter but I take it to heart every time I look at it. It also makes me a little sad, because I haven’t found that something I “love to do”. Oh, don’t get me wrong – there are LOTS of things I love to do. There’s just no way I can make enough money doing them to pay my many, many bills. At least I haven’t found that thing yet, although I still hold out hope. I’ve heard and been inspired by so many stories about people who just fall into that magical thing, almost serendipitously. For example, there’s a lawyer fellow I reached out to a couple of years ago when I was exploring the idea of becoming an animal lawyer (whatever that might be). He used to be a garden-variety real estate/zoning attorney out on Long Island. But then, on vacation, he went on a dolphin adventure and fell in love with a dolphin, and he decided then and there that he wanted to create (and he HAD to create, because there isn’t a field of dolphin law or even zoological law, for that matter) a career for himself where he could protect animals, and advise the people who care for animals, on a daily basis. He’s become an expert in his field, has written books and sponsors seminars for people who run zoos and aquariums, and he even teaches a course in animal law at my law school. He is a shining example of making that adage come true. But how do I get there from here? I haven’t found that THING yet (or maybe it hasn’t found ME), that inspiring activity that compels me to do it and yet I can still enjoy it at the deepest level every day for the rest of my life.
I have a friend who once said, “Work isn’t supposed to be enjoyable. It’s supposed to be a misery. That’s why it’s called WORK.” But I don’t agree with that. There are many people in this world who take great satisfaction from their careers, who enjoy going to work nearly every day. I know they’re out there. I see them all the time, in every walk of life. I only wish that could be me. I have regrets for paths not taken in my younger days that might have brought me there, but I always have to remind myself that it’s never too late. I ain’t dead yet. I’ll just keep my mind and ears open and put myself out there (which does kind of mean I’ll need to leave my apartment once in a while!) and maybe, just maybe, the THING that I love to do (and that can actually provide sufficient financial support) will reveal itself to me and I’ll have a late-in-life career that I can cherish. It will have only taken 57-plus years!