About a week ago, I kicked myself in the butt. Metaphorically speaking.
I’ve worked my entire life, but I’ve always been a “work to live” type rather than “live to work.” From early days babysitting and slinging fried chicken at Bojangles, a job has always been a thing I do to make money, not an end in itself. That’s a major reason I always work part-time: the rest of my life is far more important to me than my job.
Some might call this a healthy work-life balance. That would be correct—to a point. And it’s not like Foreign Service spouses have awesome job options anyway…
But there’s a flip side. That is settling. Sticking with the easiest job: the one that pays just enough to keep doing it while interfering the least with the rest of my life. (After all my husband’s job interferes plenty, thank you very much…) Using the easy job as an excuse not to stretch myself in other ways.
I have a pretty good part-time telecommuting job that I’ve been doing for a long time. I’ve made the most of it, changing and expanding my job description and doing what I could within my limited sphere to move the organization forward. And the money was welcome, especially during the seven years we lived in the DC area prior to Vienna.
But it’s been nearly four years since we we left DC. (This year doesn’t count because my husband is on temporary duty: we are living on the government’s dime in corporate housing.) We bid on one more overseas tour from Vienna largely because we knew that would pay for my son’s college tuition. It worked, so we got this year on TDY and we are headed back overseas in a few weeks. Four years free rent = one college tuition, more or less.
If I were truly career-oriented, I would see this move back overseas as a door closing. Since I am not, it suddenly struck me that it is a door opening.
The primary reason I would need to work at this point is to pay for college—the last major financial hurdle in our lives. But wait! That’s the reason we are going to Warsaw! By being willing to move again, to learn another language, to find my way around yet another city, to start my life over for the dozenth time, I’m already working. At a job that pays far more than my little telecommuting gig, to be painfully honest. And surely, I have as much right to job satisfaction as my husband does?
So, I up and quit. Resigned. Gave notice. Cut the cord. And it feels right.
My contract will be up shortly after we arrive in Warsaw. I have no definite plan for what I am going to do there, and I have no idea if it will pay or not. I do know that it will be new and different. If I can figure out a way to get paid, I won’t have to earn much money to make up for my previous job, after all.
It was funny how as soon as I hit “send” on that email, the ideas started coming:
- Teach or tutor English. I’ve always thought this would be fun. It would be nice to work with people in real life for a change instead of online. With my editing experience, I could be especially useful in an advanced class, I think, perhaps tutoring university students.
- Keep working on the Polish. I have no idea why I am so determined to learn this language, and I know I’ll never be fluent. But I like to demonstrate solidarność with my husband, who is studying his fourth FSI language (and pretty much over it). For some reason, I like Polish. I’ll definitely keep taking classes in Warsaw.
- Sell photos online. I already have so many photos, and I know how to set up a website. So, hm, this could work. I am waitlisted for an intermediate digital photography class in Arlington now, and if that doesn’t work out, I have found an online class I can take to learn more about my camera.
- Keep writing and blogging, of course! Maybe look into writing for pay again—though I remain dubious about the time/pay ratio of that occupation.
- Enjoy volunteering for our new project, Unaccompanied Baggage.
- Take art classes. I have taken drawing and painting classes on and off for most of my life and always loved them. Unfortunately, it’s been “off” for the last six or seven years, but I bet I can find a good class in Warsaw.
- Volunteer for the Democratic Party in the 2016 election. I volunteered for Obama in 2008 and loved it. There may be something I can do either remotely or on the ground in Poland to register voters, etc. I haven’t looked into this much yet, but it’s on the table. Since my vote was not counted (twice!) while we were in Vienna, I would like to at least make sure it gets counted in 2016, and help make sure other overseas voters don’t get disenfranchised.
- Travel. A lot. If my husband has a business trip to somewhere interesting, I’m there. I will be going some place warm at least once every winter—that’s in my contract, you see. My son is in London. My daughter will be doing study/research trips in Europe as a part of her doctoral program. I have parents and a grandparent back home who aren’t getting any younger. And there are some friends I’d like to visit.
Of course, I could have done all this without quitting my job, but I know that I am more likely to do several of them now. I needed a kick in the butt, and so I gave myself one. It didn’t hurt much.