from behind the desk

In an average year, I spend over 1,700 hours behind a desk. For the past six years, I have been driving 9 miles (which takes about 45 minutes) into the city to go to work.  I started as a temp, and was hired full time to be an Administrative Assistant II.  For two years, I did that job, and after I completed my Master’s, I switched to another position.  For the next 4 years, I had 6 different job titles. I had worked my way up, had outlasted the departments that I worked for, was trusted, was given jobs and responsibilities that I had to learn on the fly.  There were good days and bad days, but overall, I began to feel important. Necessary. I finally got an office! And then three days before my wedding, I lost my job.

Three months later, I was back at the same place in a part time job, with a different title. And six months after that, I was back again, full time. With another title. And back at the bottom.

Some of my titles were fancy, and others more to the point, but none of them describing exactly what I did for a living. When I started back full time, I again felt valued and wanted, even liked. It was a fabulous arrangement: coming in a little bit late was no problem, which meant I didn’t sit in commuter traffic. I could leave early and finish work at home if I had an appointment or wasn’t feeling well. I could wear jeans every day. I was writing content for internal documents and copy for the web. I loved it. The long hours, taking work home – not a problem. I was working far above my job title and I loved it. But like all good things, that changed. I need to know my place, I was told. It was like getting a new job title all over again.

So now, as I settle down and rethink how I work, agonize over my actions and make sure I’m acting only within the parameters that I “should” for my title, I have to realize that it is just a job. A job where I spend over 1,700 hours every year, but nonetheless, just an obligation. A contract. A way to pay the bills.

I still have dreams. I will find the perfect job one day. I will be a writer, valued for her talent and wit, sought after to teach lectures at universities.  I will publish a book. I will have an article in Real Simple Magazine about how I restored my house by hand, how I salvage architectural finds, how I even crochet amigurumi and run a successful blog and teach and…. The list goes on.

I am more than my job. I have a life. And I try now to keep work from invading, and keep my “life” separate, sacred these days. And when the time is right, I’ll get the dream list. I’ll get a job where I am happy and feel like I make a difference. I have a BA in English with minors in Gender Studies and Faith Justice. I am a trained Writing Fellow. I have presented at the National Conference of Peer Tutoring & Writing twice. I have a Master’s in Writing Studies with a focus on creative non-fiction. And I can’t get a job as an adjunct. And I can’t get writing internships because I’m overqualified (yes I’ve been told that). But some day, I will have the dream. I just have to keep hoping. And in the meantime, I have my house. I have this blog. I have friends and family who love and support me.

And I have 7,000 hours of freedom a year not behind a desk.


4 thoughts on “from behind the desk”

  1. Catherine,
    You do have a life and you do have dreams NOW. The universe is an amazing and unpredictable place. It sounds like your job may have been in the way of your dreams so the universe helped you. Take action. Set goals. Write. : )

  2. Cat,
    After years of extra education, I’m still sitting at a job that’s just my job most days. But we have outlets (like this). We are artists. We have a purpose. We are more than our jobs. 🙂

    1. The realization has been slow in coming for me, Liz. I’m getting there slowly but surely. I’ll be taking my frustration at work out on my living room baseboards tonight… THAT is a fabulous outlet 🙂

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