It’s a hard thing to admit that you have fallen out of love with your work, and that the fallout has also taken away your passion and drive for what you had hoped and dreamed would be your next step. It’s hard to feel like you’re headed back to square 2 - not 1, because you’ve kept and maintained your skill sets and experiences, but still basically back at the beginning of the board - as you’re in the midst of your fourth professional year. It’s hard when you dread going to work every single day, even though you’re in a state that you love and at the institution you’d dreamed of working at for a few years. And it’s incredibly hard to know that the work you’re doing is important and meaningful, and to want to continue to help make a positive impact and change on the world, and knowing that you’ve reached a point where you are too emotionally empty to do so.
Three weeks ago I submitted an application for a job I’ve been dreaming about for the last several years. The position focuses on educational programming surrounding gender based violence prevention. There are a ton of aspects about this position that make it even more desirable than just the core pieces of it, but those core pieces are the parts that I have been looking for in a position since my second year at CCU. And now, 3 weeks out from applying, I’m finding myself rather scared that I’ll be contacted for an interview. I know some parts of that are rooted in impostor syndrome. I know other parts are rooted in things such as not wanting to leave my second job in a row in the middle of the school year, not wanting to walk away from my staff (both graduate and undergraduate staff), or wanting to force my peers to carry the extra weight of my choice. But mostly? Mostly I’m worried that I no longer have enough to give to a position like this - one that is so important to a university community. Knowing first hand how important a position like this one is to a college community, I would hate to get into that job and not perform the job duties up to the level they deserve and need to be performed.
Since hitting a point with my compassion and trauma fatigues that I can no longer ignore the levels they are at, I’ve begun exploring jobs outside of student affairs for the first time since I received my degree. The idea is both freeing and terrifying. I’m looking to apply to job types I probably never would have considered applying to before this, but now the possibilities there are incredibly exciting. I still want the work I’m doing every day to matter, so I’m looking at positions with nonprofits in the area that are doing great work but wouldn’t make me directly responsible for the emotional labor or safety of the individuals benefiting from the organization’s work. It’s taken several months of wrestling with my brain, heart, and spirit on this, but ultimately I think this is the best way for me to continue to try to change the world for the better. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and for the last little while I feel as though I’ve been trying to pour from an empty pitcher.
If you’re in a similar boat as I am, I wish you peace with whatever decision you decide to make. I hope you love yourself enough and can give yourself enough grace to try starting over. I hope and wish for you to be happy with what you’re doing. Here’s to taking steps back to in order to leap forward.