(Welcome to the first ever guest post featured on This Blank Page. I’m honored to have the very talented Bethany Suckrow share a little wisdom on life’s in-between-stages. She has a fantastic site called She Writes and Rights that you should check out. If you would like to write a guest post for This Blank Page, click here to send me a message….after reading the post below of course)
Okay, maybe “hate” is too strong a word.
You’re working a less-than-ideal, can’t-pay-all-my-bills, stuck-in-a-rut, I-climbed-the-wrong-ladder kind of job. You don’t necessarily hate it for what it is, you just want a better one, one you’re passionate about and that pays well.
Here’s the good news everyone tells you but that doesn’t always feel better when people remind you of it :
You are not alone.
Yes, not only are you passionate about your work and stuck in an unfulfilling job, but you’re a dime a dozen.
I know what you’re probably thinking…
Something along the lines of “Gee thanks, I already knew this, Bethany” and “wow, she really sucks at this whole guest-posting thing, doesn’t she?”
But let me share with you the thing that has kept me sane in my own not-quite-there-but-works-for-now job.
To begin with, I graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in Communications and Writing. I was once a hard-core English Lit. major, but in order to finagle a semester abroad that had nothing to do with my major and everything to do with my desire to get the heck out of town, I switched majors so that I could take more electives. Also, I was really sick of reading Hamlet. I don’t know how it happened, but between my senior year of high school and my senior year of college, Hamlet was required reading in six separate literature classes. I don’t know if my professors realized this, but only in academia can you get paid to read Hamlet, and I had no intention of being an English professor.
I did want to be a writer, though, and when I graduated I didn’t know where to start.
I was working two part time jobs as a waitress and as a staff writer for my alma mater. My job as a staff writer, where I continue to work full time today, has been nothing less than Providential. Most of my fellow English B.A.’s do not have jobs in “our field,” but for me, a 10-hour per week student job slowly and diligently grew into a full-time job after working there for two years.
In the midst of that transition I realized something : writing was my day job, but it wasn’t enough. God knows why, but press releases and campus-wide emails just don’t evoke enough thrill to satisfy my writing life. I didn’t want to quit my job, but I did want to write the content that compelled me, the kind of content I knew I could spend my life writing.
This is the question that kept me up at night : what’s my middle step?
What can I do right now that won’t jeopardize the day job that I need to keep, but that can keep my career moving forward?
And this is the only answer that has made sense :
Do something else.
Not while I’m on the job; that’s a really bad idea. But in my free time, the time that I usually go home to kick back with a Newcastle and watch some Netflix, I needed to do something more productive, something I’m passionate about.
In a similar way that I realized that just being an English major wasn’t good enough, and just staying in one place for all four years of college wasn’t good enough, I realized that just working a 9-5 job is not good enough for me.
In order to move forward you have to come to terms with exactly what it is that you want, and then finagle, switch gears, do double duty, and work harder than you ever thought you could.
Don’t just sit there.
For me, this means finding as many different ways to write as possible :
- I do the practical, marketable writing at my day job.
- I do the creative, story-driven writing pro-bono for a young online magazine.
- I do the personal, poetic, free-form writing on my blog.
- And just for good measure and a little extra cash, I sell paintings on Etsy.
It’s a lot to handle. Quite honestly, I don’t always handle it well. Sometimes I’m totally exhausted and I forget to do laundry and I don’t give myself a lot of time to socialize or sleep. Sometimes I look at my blog stats and feel like giving up. Sometimes I question whether all of this extra work is really doing anything for my sanity like I’ve told you that it does.
It is the work that gets me out of bed in the morning.
It is the work that has opened doors for me and taught me how to market myself as a writer. It is the work that God has called me to do.
So what are you doing?