Friday, September 30, 2005

Mise en place

mise en place [MEEZ ahn plahs] - French cooking term meaning "everything in its place" i.e. the organization and preparation of a meal making efforts more efficient.

Today I've been thinking a lot about the expression "everything in its place." I enjoy cooking, and tend to practice this method when making meals because it makes good sense. But today I'm thinking about it in the context of MY place, and whether I'm in the right one.

One of my very first blog entries was about my current job and the fact that I've only really wanted to do one thing with my life (be a mom) but have not been able to do that thus far. There's more to it than just that, though; I've been a "career gypsy" so to speak, going from place to place, trying to find the right fit and eventually realizing I'd failed, once again.

To explain my career path is to venture down a confusing road with many twists and sharp turns. (Occasionally there was no guardrail.) I went off to college in 1988 with the intent of majoring in communications, but switched my major after the first year to music, following the thing that has been the big joy of my life. I thought I wanted to be a high-school choral director, and nothing else -- despite the fact that I am excellent with younger children, I somehow couldn't see that an elementary ed position might be my best fit. I graduated at 23, ready to face the world -- or so I thought. For some strange reason I dragged my feet on submitting job applications. I applied for the few that were close to home but never made it past the research stage when the thought of an out-of-state job came up.

To pay the bills while I tried to figure out what I was doing with my life, I began temping. I devoted the same level of attention to being a receptionist or secretarial temp that I did with any other job, and so the clients I worked for liked me. One liked me enough to offer me a full-time position, and since I hadn't gotten up the nerve to apply for those jobs in Maryland, I took it.

I would continue to search the classifieds, hoping for a teaching position to open up locally, but none did. So, after about nine months, I thought that maybe I needed to do something else -- and just like that an opportunity presented itself: a secretarial job at a local prestigious university. "Perfect," I thought, "maybe I can get a graduate degree part-time while I work!" So I interviewed for, and got, my first job that I came to despise. I worked there for three years, and it was during this time, working for a micromanager of a department head, that I developed my first episode of major depression.

But I was going to grad school at night, which seemed to be my way out. Suddenly, I had the idea that I'd apply full-time to a program closer to my background -- and so I applied for and got accepted to a full time program in arts management. I completed the remaining degree requirements in a year.

Since graduating in 1998, I've been a PR/development associate for a dance presenter, an alumni giving staffer (ugh!), a operations manager for a semi-professional choir, a software trainer and now a systems analyst. I've had my share of dissatisfaction with every job I've held, and one even was bad enough to cause panic attacks.

I've never read The Purpose-Driven Life but have wondered whether it would be a good read for me. I need to check out the reviews on that one, I guess. I have read books like The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People and Do What You Are... I've done the Myers-Briggs test on a number of occasions (although I can't recall exactly which type I am) but still keep choosing things that eventually end up to be the wrong choice.

My husband often says to me that he wonders if I'd *ever* be happy working; that maybe the reason I have so many problems being satisified with my jobs is that I don't want to be doing any of them. Today has been a day at my current job where I am questioning my ability to stay here, and I have to wonder if perhaps he's right.


Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

The paradox of the creative: Do what you love, but what you love doesn't pay the bills. So you have to do something you don't love in order to survive, and you have less time to do what you love.

My husband dreams of quitting his day job too. I'm out of work, and am afraid to do what I love because I am afraid of succeeding and then I'd never be able to go to an office again.

So I do nothing. It's not as fun as it sounds. I want to be a mom too. That's something, isn't it?

9/30/2005 1:30 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Yup, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

Wish I could help, but I have no idea myself! (((hugs))) It's no fun going to a job you despise or see no purpose in.

9/30/2005 3:40 PM  
Blogger sue said...


9/30/2009 8:59 AM  

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