I’m Stuck in a Career Rut
by Maggie Hamilton
I’m 30 years old, and I still don’t know what kind of career I want to have. Having a job you love isn’t everything, but lately, it’s all I can think about. I’m spending over 40 hours a week selling luxury goods to people with money (which sounds harder than it is), and feel like my career isn’t really going anywhere. Most people seem to figure out what they want to do in college, or at least form an idea of what they want to do in their twenties, but nothing has seemed to click for me yet.
I’m sure I still have time to figure it out, but I feel like I’ve wasted the last couple years of my life in what seems to be a dead-end job, and feel incredibly stuck. I’ve told my boss that I have other interests and feel I am talented in other areas, but few things have changed. I don’t know how to turn it around, and feel destined to be at a job I loathe for the rest of my life.
There have been times when I’ve cried in the morning, because I didn’t want to go to work, but I push through it, because there are bills to pay. I want to quit, walk out and say goodbye, but the only time I’ve quit a job without another one lined up was when I moved across the country. For me, being unemployed feels a lot worse than having a job you can’t really stand.
I have never been one to have huge career aspirations. I just want to have a job that I like, do well at and bring home a decent paycheck with good benefits. When I tell people I’m job hunting, and they ask me what I am looking for, I usually say, “I’m not quite sure.”
“Well, what are you interested in?” people ask.
I struggle to come up with an answer. These are the things I like: baking, running, cats, looking at Buzzfeed and napping. What sort of longterm career can I build based off of that? Apply for a small business loan and open up a bakery? Maybe a bakery with treadmills? With a room with couches and cats for customers to pet?
It seems like most of the people I meet in New York City have these amazing and important jobs, and I can only assume — maybe wrongly — that they pay pretty well. I blame Facebook and Instagram for publicly documenting people’s “perfect” lives. I feel as smart and driven as these people — the only difference is that they seem to have everything figured out, and I’m in a career rut. Here’s what I do know: I don’t need to earn six figures, or work in a glamourous office. I’d just like to have a job that I don’t hate — a job with retirement and health benefits, and free coffee. So the first step I’m taking is to apply for jobs that offer these things. I’m casting a wide net by applying to anything that looks remotely interesting.
“Don’t worry, things will work out,” people say, but all these unanswered job applications are making me worry and question my self-worth. On bad days, I feel like a loser. I dread meeting new people and having them ask, “So, what do you do?” Selling luxury goods, doesn’t exactly conjure up images of success. I know I shouldn’t care why people think (and they probably don’t care what I do), but I just feel so small when I have to explain to people my line of work. Clearly, I am dealing with issues of insecurity. I’m not going to sell luxury goods for the rest of my life, and quite frankly, I’m worried that my increasingly dissatisfied disposition will eventually get me fired. I deal with successful and well-connected people on a daily basis, and I often want to ask them if they happen to be hiring, but feel like that’s inappropriate to do at work. (Is it?)
Maybe I shouldn’t be complaining when there are so many people out there who are having a hard time even finding any job, so to counter this buzzkill (I’m not going to throw myself off the Brooklyn Bridge, I swear!), here are a few things I know I have going for me: I’m able to pay my rent, and I have no debt. I have my health, and a little bit of savings, but not enough to take a vacation, or bail me out if catastrophe struck. I have a great boyfriend, and a good group of friends. I’m smart, and know that I’m not a total lost cause. Yet, it’s hard not to feel like one every time I get my resume rejected, but I’m doing my best.