August 20, 2010 at 8:47 am | Posted in Career angst, Cheese with that whine? (aka rants), My life | 12 Comments

I can’t sleep lately.

Falling asleep is no issue; I’m usually dead by the time I hit the pillow most nights.

Staying asleep, however, seems to be another thing.

I think I was up last night 6 separate times, for nearly a half hour almost every time.

It’s pretty awful.

Despite the fact that most everything in my life is pretty darn good right now, I can’t shake the grey clouds that seem to be dogging me.

Part of it I know is the insomnia. Lack of sleep amplifies even the smallest annoyance into something world-changing, I know.

But I feel as if I am LACKING something.

I feel like my days are spent shackled to responsibility. I work so I can provide for my family, clean the house, bathe my son, put him to bed, take care of my husband, the cat, my friends.

I have time for me, so it’s not like I’m sacrificing myself for everyone else. My runs are me time, where I can let go of the stress. I have moments of thankfulness and happiness in almost every run.

(Okay, maybe not so much this week because I’m tired and pushing hard, but still.)

I don’t really know what’s going on.

My job is wearing on me, yes.

And it’s causing me to wonder if another career option – teaching – is right for me.

But then I wonder if in 7 years I’d hate teaching, too, and be back to square one. That worry is prevalent, when I DO sleep, I keep dreaming of a new house in a different town, but placed in a bad place. Two nights ago it was on a dune too close to the sea, where at high tide the lawn disappeared and you couldn’t get in or out of the house. Last night I dreamt that it was near a huge sinkhole that I wasn’t sure wouldn’t spread and take the house.

And so I’ve basically resigned myself to the fact that in the short term I’m an accountant, and once our family building plans are finished (which will happen in a few short months – either we’ll spend our last two embryos on failed attempts to bring home a baby or we’ll get pregnant and bring home a baby), I can try a different job, possibly on a part time basis.

Because then I can try out changing the environment and schedule to see if that makes me feel a little more balanced – BEFORE I go and change everything up.

It makes sense.

But it doesn’t rid myself of the grey. Or the insomnia.

It’s just a job.

Why is it coloring my life so strongly, then?

Because I’ve had three different careers since I left college. I’ve gone back to school TWICE since then for two advanced degrees.

And I’m STILL unhappy.

I don’t know if I have the ABILITY to be happy in one career for the rest of my working life. Which means that there’s no point in switching to something else, because I’ll hate it too in a few years.

Which means I have no sense of constancy, no consistency, no ability to stick with something for more than a couple of years.

Which means, somehow, I’m a failure.

I think that’s the heart of the matter; what’s keeping me up at night. I’m plagued with feelings of failure, and I can’t shake it.

And I’m not entirely sure how to work through it right now, that’s all.



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  1. Hey Serenity,
    You sound a bit lost right now. When I feel like that I try one of two things: counselling or volunteer. The first is self-explanatory but it’s not for everyone. The second always makes me feel better. It gives me hope and passion and helps me to step outside of myself. There are tons of volunteer opportunities out there and I bet you would have the time for lots of them!

    Anyways something to think about, good luck with it all 🙂

  2. you are no failure my friend, it might feel like that to you, but to those of us who see you…watch you, want to emulate you…failure is not what I think of you at all.

    that said, I think the most people feel like this, that’s a great answer isn’t it?? I think about going back to school, becoming a teacher, a paralegal..a laywer if we had the $$$ to put me through Law School. I wonder if my life would feel “BETTER”, “MEAN SOMETHING” if I did…or if what I’m doing now isn’t enough as long as I let it be.

    I know how you feel and I’m sorry….becuase you feeling like this is not how I see you…but I am not taking anyhthing from your feelings…you feel them and I accept that…I just wish that there was an answer, or maybe there is, maybe the universe is just waiting to answer.


  3. I am at a career crossroads again myself (as are two other female friends and one male friend, all in our forties). I had an eleven year stint doing something I loved and when I didn’t love it anymore I left to focus on having a family (I was 39 at the time). I went back to the same company in a different role three years later and pretty much hated it from day one. I enjoyed the people I worked with and my boss but HATED HATED HATED what I was doing and the company I was doing it for. I left again this May. I can say now that I do NOT know what I will do for work next. I have, though, given up all illusions that my next move (or any move after that) that doesn’t involve me working for myself, is likely to be just a job and one that I won’t find that much satisfaction with (at least not in the way that I once did when climbing the ladder).

    I think it has a lot to do with stage of life. I am no longer willing or desirous of working all hours and pouring all my talents into a career for the sake of advancement or success. And, while that really did feed my soul (and ego) when it was happening, I’m no longer that woman. So, I cut myself a lot of slack now in the work expectation department and know that I get my true happiness and feel my great success elsewhere now and that perhaps my world is a bit upside down in a way I never thought it would be.

    You are NOT a failure. You have had three careers and achieved two advanced degrees in the process. And, you are an accomplished runner, wife, and mother. Perhaps your center has shifted. And maybe your expectations of work need to as well. We tend to put a lot of emphasis on career satisfaction, especially our generation of women, but as we grow up things change. So, maybe spend some time thinking of the things that really feed your soul, lift you up, make you happy, bring you satisfaction, and focus on developing them even if they don’t come from work.

    And, also consider the cause of your insomnia. While it could be work dissatisfaction, it also could be your upcoming cycle and angst surrounding that…

  4. I agree with CanadianMama. Sometimes when something in my life is causing me disatisfaction (especially when I cannot change that something at the moment), putting my energies into something else helps. If you are interested in teaching, maybe volunteering at a school or offering tutoring in math might be a good outlet AND give you a chance to try it out.

    And, you are so not a failure. Look at you, mamma, runner, breadwinner!! 🙂

    Hope you get some good nights rest soon!


  5. Hugs, Serenity. The irony is that I am a teacher (although now at university rather than high school where I started) and I daydream about becoming an accountant. Or someone who works in a bank. Or anyone who doesn’t have to deal with my students and their sense of entitlement.

    My guess is that you are one smart cookie, and I have always found that it is really hard to make a decision on what to do when all doors are open. If you are a bright and ambitious and capable, and you can be anything you want to be (although I have now finally admitted that I will never be an astronaut, nor win a gold medal at the Olympics for Canada in rowing or show jumping), it is so difficult to say that you are done, that this is your life, your career, your path.

    Like the other posters said, you are most certainly NOT a failure. Mixing things up, through volunteering, or maybe some adult-ed courses, or what not, could be the right thing to do. And if you do decide to change careers, or houses, or what have you, that’s more than ok. That’s the nice thing about life in the twenty-first century- we are supposed to be able to reinvent ourselves. Maybe your priorities and motivations have shifted, and you need something else to feel fulfilled.

    I completely understand the fear of retraining and changing careers and then discovering you don’t like that job, either. I left high school teaching and committed to a five year (at least) PhD because I thought university was where I wanted to stay. I’m just hoping I still think that when I come out the other side.

    xxx I hope you get some sleep.

  6. So what if instead of focusing on one specific career path, you become a modern-day jack of all trades. Times are different now, and unlike our parents, who often spent their whole career with a single company, our generation very often doesn’t stay in a single job for more than a few years at a time. You’ve got a good knowledge base and a bunch of ways to apply what you know in different industries, so really, you’re a lot better off than many of us are!

  7. I can relate to this post, because I feel lost–especially when it comes to my current job. Stressing about work situations inevitably leads to sleepless nights. You’ll be in my thoughts. I hope you can find resolution soon.


  8. Does it matter a whole lot if, maybe in 7 years you might dislike your job? DO you think you’d like to teach for now? Couldn’t you always change things up a little when and if the time comes that you don’t like teaching anymore? People change careers all the time, with changes in their life, etc. People these days rarely stay at the same job for long periods of time anymore… why not foray that into a new career? What would it take for you to become a teacher – do you need more education or certification or is it really just a matter of finding a job?

  9. I don’t think you’re a failure, not in the least. I think this problem is pretty common among mothers of young children. I know lots of people who have shifted careers (even for the third time!) or returned to school after having the first baby. Two weeks ago I had drinks with a college friend who had always intimidated me with her drive and ambition. She wasn’t mean about it at all, but I often felt pretty lame next to her. She knew where she wanted to go and what she wanted to accomplish by when. And she did it all. But as she sat on the bar stool, she said that she feels she really f*cked up somewhere along the way. She hates her work and it’s totally incompatible with work-life balance. She feels she’s being pushed around and pushed out now that she has a baby. So she’s rethinking everything and trying to find something that will work now.

    Have you taken a career aptitude test lately? D. did and it made him feel that he is in the right field after all.

  10. It sounds like you’re pretty unhappy with the direction – or perhaps lack of direction – your life’s got at the moment. No doubt resolving the family building will be a piece of that puzzle – at least you’ll know where you’re headed there, soon – but it doesn’t sound like the whole puzzle. I see two solutions.

    1. Figure out a plan for what you want to do with the rest of your life, or at least your career. To be honest, this is even trickier than it sounds, and it sounds tricky. I don’t think too many people can really be satisfied with one role for that long. Even if they stay at the same basic career, the job tends to have to advance or evolve to keep them satisfied. Feeling this way isn’t failure, just normal human nature.

    2. Figure out how to let go of your desire for direction. Or re-think your way of looking at and measuring progress so it fits with where you’re going anyway. This one sounds pretty tricky, too. (I didn’t promise you useable solutions!) The first sounds almost impossible, the second sounds more plausible, but will take an enormous shift in your way of looking at life.

    So, in summary, I’ve been no help, but I don’t really think you’re a failure. Hope you feel better soon.


  11. All I can say is I’m with you. I’m dreading going back, I’m dreading the politics and bullshit, I’m dreading realizing I really dont’ care that much. And it’s not that I want to stay home full-time, it’s that I just don’t see it fulfilling me anymore. So then what?

  12. I constantly feel this way too — unsure of what my main focus should be and where I truly want to end up.

    As a teacher, I just want to weigh in and say the pay is terrible and you’ll work a lot. On the surface, the hours sound great, but it is so much work. For the one “brick and mortar” class I currently teach I spent a minimum of 10-15 hours per week preparing and grading. I’m also teaching at least 4 other classes online with this. There are benefits to teaching — but there are so many negatives too.

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