Wednesday, 18 July 2018

On Work, Unhappiness, and Big Dreams


I feel stuck. Can I tell you a story?

At some point last year, I decided to take the pressure off in regards to blogging. For roughly a decade before that, I'd been pushing myself to get all manner of 'content' out there regularly, including videos which took entire days to film and edit, and blog posts that took hours too. There wasn't much reward - I was making a bit of money, but not enough to survive, so I had to get a job. It ended up being a full-on, stressful job, and soon enough I was officially burned out. Work sucked all of the joy and creativity out of me. I was, and still am, a cog in a big machine. When I come home, it's not even that I'm exhausted, although I often am, but that the creative juices have simply gone.

And for a fundamentally creative person, it's devastating. I rarely feel inspired to blog. I've completely lost interest in YouTube. I prefer my personal Instagram over my blog Instagram, where I often go months without posting. Before, these things were my life. And I desperately wish they still were, but the love has disappeared.

I think it's still in me somewhere, or I hope so, anyway. I want it back. But it doesn't help that my domain provider completely messed up my domain name when I renewed it a few months ago, meaning that you won't necessarily get to my blog when you type in my URL - it's hit and miss. And I can no longer link directly to certain blog posts, just my generic www.themilelongbookshelf.com, which means if I want to point someone to an old blog post, I can't. My views have tanked but they can't seem to fix the issue. They've literally broken my blog, so even though I want to come back, there isn't a lot of point as it's pretty unusable. Honestly, if you're reading this, it's a miracle.

And I am very unhappy in my job at the moment. I only work four days a week, yet they are long shifts, mentally exhausting, physically laborious and painful, and... it's just not what I enjoy. It's not me. I've been close to quitting many times, and people online and in books are always like, quit the job you hate! Life's too short! But I can't afford to just quit my job when there aren't any others around. I want to chase my dream, but I can't put the finances of my future in jeopardy. If I dropped even one shift at work (if they let me) I wouldn't be earning enough, so that's not a possibility either.

For a while, work made me question if I even wanted to work in publishing/journalism anymore, despite having wanted that for years and years. I felt no joy for it anymore. I think it's slowly coming back to me, as well as the dream to finish a novel and become a published writer which is SO strong and SO big and it's a need, not a want. But I just can't seem to do that while working this job which I've come to hate.

I know most published authors have a full-time job as well as writing, but at the moment, I can't do it. My job is one you end up taking home with you. Even when I'm not there, I might as well be. There's no space for me to be me, whether I'm at work or at home.

So, readers, we come back to what I said before: I feel stuck. I am stuck. And I am well aware that this is a first world problem to have. At least I have a job. At least I have some sort of income. But it's having such a negative impact on not just my mental health but also my physical health (I was there for three months before I had to be referred to physio for my knees, having been perfectly physically healthy before).

Question, universe: why wasn't I born into a rich family, damn it?

In an ideal world, I would be back to putting all my time and effort into blogging, vlogging, freelancing, writing, and all that jazz. It would be making me just enough money to live on. I would be handing in my resignation right now (something I genuinely dream about). I'd be working on my new WIP, and seeing if I could take it further. I would be so much happier.

So, reader, what should I do?

Have you been in this situation? If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it. I miss you!

5 comments:

  1. I recently gave up on my publishing dream. It's exhausting having constant no's with no way of getting any feedback for FOUR years. I'm in a rut too. While in a fortunate situation when it comes to my parents,it's mentally draining that people think I want to be working for my parents,that I want to still be living in my childhood bedroom and paying rent at 24. I just use every opportunity to be creative even if I don't want to. But I'm learning to know when to give myself a break.

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  2. I think your day job is definitely draining you. I don't believe the "do a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life" thing, or that we should always love what we do and wake up overjoyed to be working - life is life and work is work - yes, you can make it the best it can be, but there will still be days where it's just meh - so don't chase a dream where this amazing job exists that will be absolutely perfect. That being said, I've been where you are, and a way that I dealt with it was taking back control. If you aren't happy in your job, you could try to work towards a new job - there may not be loads available (though there's usually more than you think, and many jobs aren't advertised - it's speculation and sending your CV out that get interviews), but you could look at some training options to increase your skills, see what else is out there that you might like to do that you can work towards, see your blog as an escape from the things you dislike about work instead of a burden. Even by making a plan and working towards smaller goals you'll feel a sense of accomplishment, and sometimes the feeling like you're in control part is enough to make you feel better.

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  3. I don't really have any advice to offer, as I am in a similar situation. But I will pass on what someone told me- often when we are stuck it is an invitation to get more resourceful and find different and creative ways forward. It's also hard to see the big picture in moments like that, but trust the process and practice good self care.

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  4. I am sorry you are feeling like this, it sounds like you have a couple of different stressors piling up to a point where finding the joy or even seeing the wood for the trees is tough.

    I’m super risk adverse so would never recommend leaving the job you are in if you can’t afford to live without it and don’t have anything else but it’s clear that this is not the job for you? I would however also say that you might not be in the best frame of mind to look and apply for other things. A couple of years ago I came to the conclusion that my 15 hour a day job was toxic. Unfortunately I was in such a bad place I was not positioning myself well when I went for other things. It was not until I took some time out that things started to clear up for me and I got a new job which whilst by no means my dream role is a much better fit for me in terms of flexibility and culture.
    So as a starting point are you in a Position to take some time off work, even if it’s a week or ten days where you can focus on catching up on some physical rest and treating yourself well? You may be surprised what some distance from the work and some mental and physical recharging might do.

    In terms of refreshing the creative side of things is there a way you can insert some fun, non time intensive things into your week? I’m thinking a photo a day or themed photo week that makes you look at the world a bit differently. If it’s writing maybe It’s picking some pre existing prompts to write sentences rather than paragraphs etc. Going back to your favourite books and writing one line reviews, or reviews in rhyme or whatever floats your boat! I guess what I am saying is finding ways ask to your creativity without putting lots of pressure on yourself to produce in terms of volume or even regularity or spreading yourself too thinly. One of the best pieces of advice (and I stress for me, maybe it won’t resonate with you) was start less finish more and I use it as a test whenever I feel overwhelmed now.

    Wishing you the very best.

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  5. I think you need a real break from it all. I was getting so down with my blog and the tanking numbers and feeling cut off but others and publishers because I couldn’t afford to keep going to events etc. Plus I was hating my job too. I did quit my job and moved to a new town. I was lucky as I had savings and moved in with someone but I got another job with less hours but I totally love it and I’m really good at it too. Sometimes things happen for a reason and maybe the crap job now is for you to enjoy a great one later. I’ve pitched a novel after working on it for over a year and got no’s or no replies so I’ve taken a break from it until I find the passion again. I haven’t blogged probably in months and I don’t think anyone has noticed and I realise I don’t care that much. I’d rather do other things. We change and grow and this is just other change but maybe because it’s been sooo ingrained in who you are that it feels weird but you can always come back and you can always change too. Embrace it and go where your heart guides you xo

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Feel free to leave me a comment. I will get back to you as soon as I can! :)