Dilemma

Work has always been something I struggle with. I’ve never been happy at a job for long. Work is important to me and as a result I have always found it important to be happy doing it. So I’ve had many jobs at this point in search of the right fit. I’ve also struggled with the fact that I have never figured out exactly what it is I want to do. I believe I can do anything my heart desires, or I can at least TRY to do anything. So if I believe in myself that much, my abilities and my motivation, then why can’t I figure it out?

Cut to today, I’m settled into this job now with the City. I’m permanent which gives me the opportunity to become a Union member. It’s an admin role which isn’t exciting but it’s easy. The pay is decent. The hours are what I need. Plus, it’s around the corner from my house. Stability is dialed in at this point which is a HUGE asset in my eyes and something I’ve been looking for in my search.

But guess what? I’m not happy.

Let me be honest about something. While maintaining the infrastructure of the city is one of the most important (and grossly under appreciated) jobs one could have, it is not something I am passionate about. I mean, I’m finding it interesting right now because it is so out of my wheelhouse and foreign that I’m learning a lot but nothing that I learn along the way will create passion for me. I knew that out of the gate!

Things are improving now that I’ve been asked to go full time but the majority of my time up to this point I have not been used to my full potential. It’s important for me to feel like a necessary member of the staff (isn’t it for everyone?) and even with things on the up, I often feel in the dark and minuscule. This, in turn, has often left me thinking about why I am taking time away from my life when I so frequently leave the day going, well that was a waste of my time! Part of me is also torn thinking, if they want to pay you to do nothing than take advantage! I’m just not that type of person at the end of the day. I am here to help. I am here to contribute. Hopefully this piece keeps improving as my hours increase.

The part that has been tugging at me the most is that the work environment isn’t progressive. When I worked at the nonprofit agency I grew a lot in relation to nondiscrimination. I worked there for 3 years and there was annual requirements for training opportunities that included Equity & Inclusion and Pronouns, for example. Keep in mind the type of work being done there had so much to do with that. What I’m doing now is shockingly different. But I enjoyed the challenge of growing in that way. It is important to me, especially as a parent, to consider everyone’s color and everyone’s lifestyle as I go about my day. As I speak, as I make decisions of my own. To be thoughtful and live with intention. My workplace now isn’t making efforts to be anti racist or inclusive without obvious judgement. When I say this I am referring strictly to the everyday conversations that go on in my particular department. I don’t want to give specifics because it is my current place of employment, my livelihood but it bothers me deeply that I’m in a situation now that feels like a cultural regression.

It’s disappointing to be in another work predicament where I’m not only unhappy because I’m not being challenged intellectually, but I’m morally being tested. I also feel like because I’m in my mid to late 30s now and should have my shit together.

I need to put some serious thought into this.

Positive:

I know that I’m happier (happiest, possibly) doing non profit-type work. Helping those who need help. I came to live in the PDX area for an opportunity to do this.

Negative:

That is a bad choice of employment if I’m looking to make money without a major degree to back me up. It’s also a LOT of work for a small amount of money.

Positive:

I’ve always wanted the stability of a substantial retirement fund and benefits that I can afford that will actually take care of my health. And who doesn’t want to work city hours and holidays?


I was hoping the city job would be somewhere I could settle down. Maybe it’s just this department. Maybe it’s just this city at a snuggly population of 12,000. Too small town mentality? There aren’t a lot of other departments to choose from and not a lot of positions overall. You know, now that I’m in as a permanent employee, I can transfer to any Government agency within the country and keep all the perks. Not that I want to leave Oregon. Maybe I’d find something more fulfilling within the city of Portland? But then I’d have to deal with traffic and that alone makes me think, never mind! I can walk to work right now! The County offers Mental Health services. Maybe I need to keep my eye on that?

Is there a way I can have it all?

I don’t know. There’s always a compromise, I suppose. Fortunately, this dilemma isn’t one that needs to be decided upon immediately.

6 thoughts on “Dilemma

  1. You definitely need to find a happy place, but patience can also bring some happiness. My first ten years after school included 4 jobs in 4 cities in very different parts of the country. One of those was a job with a City that could have led to permanence and a pension, but I wasn’t ready for that then. The next 5 years was 3 more jobs, but all in Portland. Then came 25 years with the same firm and everything I had looked for previously made it the right fit. None of them were perfect but I learned about what made me happy, what challenged me, and what drove me nuts. Now I’m retired and looking for happy every day! Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I bounced around several jobs. 3 years here, 5 years there. Teaching ended up being the best fit for me. When I did admin work I ended up doing other things on the side to keep the brain active. Organised art exhibitions. Set up a lunchtime groups. Sounds like you could have a positive impact at your workplace with you insight from the non for profits. Good luck😊

    Liked by 1 person

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