a change

Yikes. It seems that I fell off the blogging bandwagon for 2.5 weeks. Here’s what’s been happening:

The week of Jan. 20, I felt a cold coming on. I felt sort of off, wasn’t sleeping well, and was freezing all the time. Jan. 26, I went to my cousin’s 5-year-old daughter’s birthday party, and was surrounded by small humans probably crawling with germs.

The week of Jan. 27, I was knocked flat by a cold. I stayed home sick on Monday, and really didn’t feel like being at work any of the rest of the days that week. I was tired and congested and groggy and slow.

Last week, the week of Feb. 3, I was recovering, but really didn’t have a lot to report on yet, so I stayed quiet on here.

See, the week leading up to my sickness and the week of it, I was doing a lot of thinking. For the past…six months? longer?…I’ve been feeling an itch to get out of town and to start somewhere else. I’ve been unhappy with my career field basically since I first started out in it, and I’ve been wanting to try out life in a new city, because that seemed like the answer. I decided on one of the Friday nights in the past few weeks to apply for grad schools. (I figure that since my first go-round in grad school was one of the best and most flourishing times for my happiness and creativity, it’d be good to try it again. I’m young; I have some money saved. There will never be a better time than now.) So I’ve started working on a couple of applications.

On one of the two mornings following my sick day, I walked into the office and had an epiphany. I was waiting in the lobby for the elevator, and it suddenly hit me that “this is not where I want to be.” As clear and simple as that. In the amount of time between pushing the elevator button and arriving on the 5th floor, I had somehow–very calmly–resolved that I will only be staying in my current job until May. After that? I’m not entirely sure. But I’ve got some time to figure it out. It’s crazy, but that decision has led to a nearly 180-degree shift in my mindset and my outlook on life for the past two weeks or so. It’s amazing how freeing it feels to reclaim control of my life and my direction after sitting idly in it all for so long.

Since beginning to look into grad school programs and really consider other life courses, a few things have come to light.

1) I’m looking for Master’s programs in English, so that I’ll be qualified to teach at the community college level.

2) I’m interested in perhaps pursuing a Ph.D. in English or something related, because I’d like to have some type of academic career–maybe as a professor, maybe as a director of a university writing center, maybe something else along those lines.

3) All of the jobs I’m drawn to involve nontraditional scheduling or generous flexibility.

4) I don’t want to work a traditional 9-to-5 desk job.

5) I don’t necessarily want to be bound by location, but I don’t want to be continuously moving. I like some stability in my life.

6) I want to be able to take at least one “big” trip every year, and lots of smaller trips in between.

7) All of these things seem to lend themselves nicely to the academic calendar year and the freedom afforded by the jobs in that field.

With all of these realizations, I’ve avowed to stop applying for any more 9-to-5 jobs. I still haven’t been able to shake the urge to job hunt at least once every few days–there are a few positions open in Charlottesville right now that appeal to me–but I think this will be better for me in the long run. Even now, I know that interviewing for a different job in a somewhat-related field still won’t feel “right,” and it won’t be the change I feel that I need. (I was supposed to interview last week, but ended up telling them that I couldn’t. I immediately felt infinitely better. It was awesome and freeing.)

I’ve also reclaimed some control of my social life in the past week. I joined a MeetUp group in an effort to spend time with some people my age. I went to see a movie with the group last week, and went out to dinner on Friday night. I haven’t gotten to know anyone very well yet, but it’s a start. It’s already impacted me in one serious way: the girl who started the group is a photographer who runs her own business. I talked to her at dinner about how she got started and how hard it is to branch out on your own. She said that at the end of the day, no matter how much less money she’s making doing this than something else, she’d always rather be working for herself by doing what she loves. That advice has had me thinking a lot in the past few days, but that’s another post in itself.

I ran more miles last week than in all of January combined (2.25 in January, 4.25 last week; but still!). I registered my dad and myself for the Ukrop’s 10k again this year, so we’ve got to get in shape.

It feels really good to be lighting all these fires.

In summary…

I’m choosing to be present. I’m re-writing my plan so that it fits me, and not everyone else. I’m listening to my gut, and I’m doing what I think is right for me. I won’t do anything stupid, and I haven’t yet explained all of this to anyone, but I hope that I’ll be able to in time. (After a heart-to-heart about a month ago, I know that my grandma, at least, will be on board!)

I don’t have a clear path yet, but I’m learning that it’s okay. This is my one and only life, and only I can decide how best to live it. I’ll continue to do so over the next few months, but for now I’m completely resolved and I know it’ll be worth it.

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