I don't know what it is about this year, but it seems to be a time of massive transition and upheaval...for everyone else but me, that is. I'm generally used to being in a constant state of flux, but 2013 has me putting along here in the office, settled and content-at least for now. I can't say the same for my patients. Holy malcontent! There are a lot of people out there who hate...and I mean HATE...their lifestyles, their relationships, their jobs. Especially their jobs. So many people seemingly stuck, wheels constantly turning in their ruts of misery, unable to move forward. So many people who despise every moment of being in their place of employment, feeling bored, abused, and undervalued.
I get it. I, too, once had a job that I reviled with a burning passion...more than one, actually. I know that feeling of waking up with dread, and sleeping with it as well...because I knew that tomorrow would be another loooonnng day of the same old crap. We spend the majority of our time working, so if you are unhappy there, you are spending a good percentage of your life suffering. It's unfortunate, but true: if you hate your job, you probably don't have much of a shot of overall happiness.
Misery sucks. Unhappiness sucks. Boredom and malaise? Suck, suck, suck. All of these feelings, however, do provide one benefit: they are a hell of a motivator to move on to bigger and better things.
When someone is in physical pain, the first thing we do is examine the cause, and then work to change it. Physical pain is a sign that something is wrong. Why should emotional discomfort be treated any differently? We have no problem doing things to fix our physical maladies, but when all of our emotional signs point to an issue, we wait and wait, putting off any exploration for a cure. It seems that most people really need to hit bottom before being willing to seek change.
We owe ourselves better. I remember a conversation with my father, long ago, about sticking with teaching. I hated teaching, and spent almost every day alternating between stress headaches, mental and emotional exhaustion, and feeling completely out of my element. One day, I was rambling off on another bitchfest about the various awful things my students had done to me that week. "I need to quit," I finished. "I need to get out of there...I really can't take being there anymore. I literally hate every moment of being awake."
"Well," my dad answered, "Just think of what a great pension you have to look forward to!"
I started to do the math: I was 28. If I retired at 65, I would end up spending the next 37 years in utter anguish. It was too much to contemplate; I found myself wondering if I should take up smoking again, or perhaps bungee-jumping. Anything was preferable to the thought of wasting my days languishing in a career I despised.
Thank God, I ended up forging a new path, which led me to where I am today. I couldn't be happier with the decision I made...but it took me a LONG time to get here. Like all of you out there, I needed to reach some sort of breaking point, that place where you simply can't take another moment. I had to get pissed and depressed and distressed enough to take action. And now, when I look back, I'm so very, very grateful for that level of stress and anger and sadness. Because if I had just drifted along on a mindless wave of general frustration and lack of fulfillment, I might still be there today. I might never have been catalyzed into change.
So for those of you who are feeling less than content with where you are in life, pay attention to those feelings. The worse you feel, the more loudly your inner voice is screaming to you: "Move on! Move forward! Time for a transition!"