I am not sure if it is because as a girl growing up there were certain ways of being that were expected and accepted, or if it is just because I was a quiet, more introverted type growing up. Regardless of the why, I know that it is really hard often times for me to be able to understand and verbalize what I really want out of life.
Now, I feel like there are so many areas I have made great strides in. I have been working a lot on myself, well, always. I feel like I am constantly working on myself and learning about myself, but who isn't, right? There have been some eye-opening moments over the years. There have been a plethora of "ah ha" moments taboot. I appreciate and am grateful for all of them. Yet, I still find myself sitting here saying, "Patty, what do you really want out of this life."
I think the reason I have really been struggling with this lately is just knowing that I spend so much of my day at work. Now, I know this is how the world mostly works. Unfortunately we live in a world where we need to work to get paid and in order to pay for general things like food, shelter, health care, well-being, etc. we need to work in order to get paid and be able to afford what makes us comfortable.
After returning from Belize and Guatemala, I had many moments of reassessing what I really think "I need to survive." And unlike Princess Vespa in Spaceballs, I do not need matched luggage or a huge industrial strength hairdryer. However, there are certain things that while I don't "need" them per say, they help with my physical and mental well being (facials, acupuncture). So, when I begin to assess what I really "need" to survive, I need to add "and be at my best." There we so many people in Guatemala that lived in 3-walled house with thatchedroofs. We would drive by and see them walking to school, or playing with their siblings or friends. We would see them, well, I would see them and I would have this feeling like I was missing something. I was missing out. I was spending so much time living to work, instead of working to live.
While I continue to live within the 5 boroughs, I can say that our trip to Belize and Guatemala got my clock ticking for wanting to live in a place that I enjoyed calling home. I loved our old neighborhood, but I did not love our apartment. It was super old, falling apart and I just didn't feel relaxed in it. We had a lot of clutter and we had no real easy access to windows, light and outdoor space. Spending so much time in open-air rooms and cabanas in Belize and Guatemala, Greg and I put "access to outdoors space" on our must have list while we were looking for apartments. In the end, our balcony and access to the roof were two things that sold us on our new apartment. We are paying more than we were and more than we would ever admit, but this is something that I really do want right now and I am willing to tighten the wallet in other areas to do so. So, I have def. found more comfort in my home.
I think what I am struggling most with is my career and "job." I look at Greg every day who LOVES what he does. He is a true expert in his field, and he is called upon as such. He loves his job and he loves what he does. As I continue to talk to Greg about my own passion I really find myself struggling and I am not sure why. I think that it is because when I think about what I am passionate about, nothing really work or career related comes up. I kind of just found myself in higher ed before I found myself in non-profit fundraising. Granted I did get a Master's in Public Administration, it just felt like I had to get a Master's. While a great experience going to NYU Wagner, I can only wish I knew then what I know now. I would have NEVER done that. I would have moved here, found a job first and then gone to PACE or CUNY. I am not certain why I thought taking out loans to go to NYU for grad school was a good idea. Especially knowing I was going into NON-PROFIT!! D'oh, Patty.
So, I show up, I give it my all, and I really try. I do. I try and be creative, I try and be passionate. There are certain aspects I certainly do enjoy. I love the cause and I love the mission. I love knowing that the work I am doing is directly benefiting a child living in poverty here in NYC. I love some aspects of my job. I really enjoy running reports, and working with Excel and numbers in general that I love. I think as I start thinking more about the possibility of a family some day, and what I enjoy and what stresses me out, the more I realize that in an ideal world, I would telecommute, or find a way to work for myself. If nothing else, I would find a way to work from home at least a few days a week. I would find a way to try and have the work-life balance I crave.
Everyone is different. Everyone has different "tolerant" levels of work hours and stress and different triggers. For me chaos, change and uncertainty are what cause me the most angst. I am someone that needs to take time off. I am someone that needs to take a sick day/mental health day from time-to-time to be my best. I feed so easily off of the stress and tension of others that I often need my own introverted space and time to re coop. Perhaps this is why I say I would love to get to work from home. It would be in my comfortable space, on my time table and people wouldn't just show up asking questions, reports, etc. I am not sure anything stressing me out more than having people constantly come back and ask me questions. Just because as an introvert, it takes a lot for me to leave what I am doing to focus on something else. When people have questions for me, I like to try and give them all my attention.
I think I have always been afraid and embarrassed to admit what I really want out of life. I think part of me, as a women, feels like I am supposed to want to just work, work, work. Because I can and because of all of the opportunities so many have fought for, for me to have the right to do so. I do want to work, I do want a career, but I must admit, that I am not sure that will ever be where my passion lives. This realization makes me sad sometimes. Is it ok for you to "just have a job" and then find your passion elsewhere? I always here people saying "Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life." I long to find that. I long to be able to say that I am living that quote. I am just not certain what that would be.
Every morning when I leave Gus and every afternoon when I come home, all I can think is how hard this must be for working mothers. Mothers certainly have one of the most responsible, challenging and time consuming careers. Whether they are a stay at home mom, or a working mom, they are all career moms because whether you are home all day or not, you are a mom full time 24/7. Even if your children do not occupy your field of view all day, the occupy your mind and hearts all day, every day.
So, what do I really want out of life? What do I really enjoy doing? Is there anything I enjoy doing that I could actually have as a career? These are all questions that I ask myself constantly. I am embarrassed to admit that many of the things I am most passionate about do not have a salary that would allow me to continue living in my cute little apartment in Queens. So, it is a vicious cycle and money is a vicious carrot many of us find ourselves chasing. In an ideal world if I talk about doing what I love and enjoy, I am not certain I could get paid for any of it. I assume I am not alone in this, but at that same time, I know there are people out there that love their jobs and careers.
How do I go about figuring out what I really want out of this aspect of my life, when I cannot even make a decision about what to order for dinner?
Is this more commonly a challenge for women? I feel like my entire life I kind of assumed that career would take a back seat as I would obviously have kids and obviously need to find a way to be their primary care giver, even if I wasn't a stay at home mom. I would need to have more flexible hours, need to be able to take time to bring them to the doctor's to watch their softball games, etc. Now at nearly 35 and not 100% certain kids are in the future, I feel a bit lost. Are these things that men out there considered when choosing a major, first job, career. Whenever I do anything I always think about how it would be different if and when we have children. Do other people do that? I am just fascinated to know if part of my challenge an part of my strife is societal, or if it is just me, putting pressure on myself to find my passion.
I guess until Elizabeth Warren, Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin are not only asked about their hair, outfits, kids and grand kids, I can only assume the same is subtly expected for me.
I have no doubt that I am not unique in wanting to find my passion, I am just trying to figure out why it is SO very hard for me to answer what I really want out of life and my career. Help? Advice?
and that's all she wrote...