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Ashley

Do you know what you're doing?

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Having another one of those weekends where I'm unsure what I want to do career wise, where I want to live and all that fun. In part because I was supposed to travel last year and think of it all while doing that but for obvious reasons it didn't happen and so my life feels like its "on hold", but on the other hand I feel like I "should" have it figured out by now.

But enough about me, do you feel that you know what you're doing? Whether that's professionally and/or in your personal life?

I know nobody really has it all figured out but it would be reassuring to hear that from others I guess. 

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My personal life has kind of been stuck in place for years. Right before the pandemic hit I had started to plan to get out there more, travel etc but obviously that got put on hold. I guess the one thing is that the pandemic just made my need for that even stronger.

Work-wise I’ve been unhappy in my job for a long time. I’ve posted before about a need for job satisfaction and that’s still the case. I am however trying to be a bit more proactive about changing things. Despite not always being great at it I’ve always wanted to work in a more creative field so I’m attempting to work towards that. I’ve bought a new camera to practice with, I’ve bought the Photoshop subscription and am taking courses to prove to potential employers that I know the software.

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Yes and no. 

Its a really loaded question and entirely depends on the day and subject. I'm not entirely sure I'm going to give a clear cut, non-rambling answer here. But perhaps everyone will get the gist of it. 

For yes, that's more my personal life. I definitely feel like in my personal life, my relationship, how I want our lives to go together we've got that down and I feel like the 30 year old I am. Specifics might make me feel like I don't. For instance, I definitely don't 100% know how to buy a house, but we want it! 

Otherwise, the only bit right now that makes me really go "wtf do I do here? Where's the adult adults" in my personal life is everything to do with my health because there's so much misconception and red tape with it that I spent days wondering if I'm adult enough to deal with any of it! 

Professionally is entirely another story. I've just moved up in my career and I've never felt more like a child than I currently do. It's a steep learning curve and I've really struggled with the whole thing, even with really good feedback from my peers and boss! I spent so much time thinking I needed to get to this position that I didn't far enough ahead and now I have no idea what to do going forward. So ultimately I'm doing what works and going from there. Not knowing is kind of scary, have I spent all this time gaining this career and then I'm not cut out for it? Should I change careers? Do I keep going because that's what is expected!? 

Ultimately, a lot of my life has happened because of circumstance and trying to find my feet and seeing what works. I won't lie and say I wish I was still working in NYC with a company or traveling the world saving the whales (or red pandas in this case), but you're definitely not on your own. I find that a lot of my new colleagues think I have it all figured out and I really, really don't. I don't know if for me that feeling will ever truly go away. I'm sort of ok with that, there's so many paths to life and so much to learn (and we should all be constantly learning) that it feels kind of expected? 

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Some might say I'm a bit too young to be feeling this way, but I've been feeling this way too for much of the last five years, but the past couple of months in particular. I'm totally going to ramble and I know it, so get out while you can, seriously :p

There's never been a concrete plan for my life direction, and so I'm not surprised I've ended up feeling this way. I cruised through the latter years of high school knowing I was all but guaranteed a place in the "best" local college, and the aim since I was young had nebulously been to attend a prestigious university, because that's just what you do when the world is telling you that you're smart and you're taking part in "Gifted & Talented" events which have you visiting said universities a few times a year. Looking back, it was so counterintuitive, and some of the other students in my year group attending these events have crashed out or had to retake years just as I have. I then got ill, likely due to lack of direction draining my resolve to aim forwards at college, and stress got the better of me. Having a clear direction was

The one time I had a burning desire and aim for something was actually after failing out of AS levels, when I was being told I could stay at my college but had no business studying maths, and so I made the choice to leave for a "lesser" college to prove to myself that I could do whatever I put my mind to and get a good grade in maths, telling myself I'd go to university to study physics, which is a step further than I got with my life goals previously. I turned a U (yeah, from an A at GCSE, but my first college brushed that off and said it meant nothing, which I still find myself chuckling over sometimes) into an A by that Christmas, aced AS, but having taught myself how to study effectively but not having any other real reference points in my life, I completely burned myself out and missed much of my first attempt at A levels. I had some unconditional offers for universities and some interviews lined up, but knowing full well even at that point that my results wouldn't reflect what I was actually capable of (and my doctors being absolutely useless throughout), I pulled out of the application circuit. 

Since then, I guess things had started to improve. I was unemployed for a while before getting my current job at Big Bank™ two years ago now, I got lucky in that other people in my team were also brand new and I've made some great friends, I asked a girl out for the first time in my life (I really shouldn't have based on how quickly she moved on from her ex in hindsight, but live and learn I guess), things got awkward after it turned out she was already with someone else, things started to get better between us and me and my friends were doing well and then...the pandemic hit ::shrug:

I should be grateful, and I guess I am. I moved out for the first time last year and though there are things about my current situation which are inhibiting to a degree (been growing apart from my sister for years, we've both been through stuff, I took the chance of us living together for her to get on her feet and took most of the financial responsibility and, well, we haven't grown much closer, sadly), my general mental health and relationship with my parents have improved quite a lot. I'm in one of the most secure teams in Big Bank™ in that the pandemic has made us one of the fastest growing departments and increased my level of seniority pretty rapidly as a result, I'm getting paid well, and my friends who went to university at the first opportunity and did a 3 year course came out last year to there being no jobs for them to do, so if I went to university at my first chance I'd likely be without a job, and if I did at my second chance I would've spent the third year being beaten down by the pandemic. 

And yet...I'm still unhappy with where I am. Personally the last month or two has actually been quite good, as I've taken up mediation and have started getting back into shape, but the question looming over my head of So, what am I doing? has become greater than it has been before with the increased mental clarity which comes from making myself healthier. Then there's work, where I've been moved temporarily (but I'll likely get the offer to move permanently) to an internal projects team, which has given me more exposure to higher-ups and by all means would be great for getting my name out there and moving up the chain. 

But I have zero interest in doing that. Even with my temporary role being a cakewalk when compared with my old role - only having to sit in on meetings, send a few emails a day, and complete a few forms vs going 100 mph through a spreadsheet, fixing other people's mistakes and the stress of calling customers - I look at the higher-ups in these meetings and realise how passionate they are about the mundane things our work involves, and I roll my eyes, knowing I really couldn't give a damn less about what I'm doing now. I then thought about the hypothetical scenario where I try my ass off for the next decade and a half and become CEO of Big Bank™ - would the pay at that point make me happy? 

Well, short answer: no. This isn't what I want, and I realised how little I cared about this job. You could give me the CEO's pay for what I do now and I'd still be just as unhappy and lost. I'd just be able to distract myself from that more. 

There was a time a year or so ago when I was flirting with the idea of putting the grind in to get through medical school, because if nothing else I care about other people, and love to help people, and could devote my life to nothing else but helping people; that I'd rather go back on the phone to help customers in a much more stressful role almost cruelly proves that to a degree I didn't realise before. I know that if I can stay healthy I have the mental capacity to see jt through, but seeing how healthcare staff have been treated over the course of the last year, knowing how gruelling that process can be, would I just find myself burning out again? 

Sometimes it feels like I'm split between Julius the Academic (aka who I was half a decade ago and have been told is the person I am my whole life) and Julius the Creative (the person I've grown into more over the last half a decade, but has always been there deep down). I love games, film, writing, and storytelling - could I not find something in there that could help people but also selfishly give myself some kind of satisfaction and purpose?

But I type that and almost feel silly, which I'm ashamed to admit. 

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personal experience - you never truly feel like you are at the right milestones or have "done enough", you really have to deconstruct why those expectations are in your head, are they there because you truly want them or society/other people have placed this impression that you must.  Then you have to focus on what you can realistically do from now and going forward.  Sometimes therapy/mindfulness can be a worthwhile avenue to look into.

My life is definitely held in suspension right now.  My health is terrible.  My job situation is messy.  My love life is no better (in reality most men do not want to take on someone with disabilities especially when they can't have kids)  I will never life a normal life and i've had to accept that.

Even most recently i was nerding out on keyboard shopping and got frustrated because mechanical keyboards are very in fashion right now and i want one, but my hands and wrists are too damaged to deal with a clicky keyboard... very much a dumb "why me" moment but we are all human and its ok to be frustrated when you get handed an unfair deal in life.

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The prospect of a "career" as such is something I don't think I'll ever have as such, I feel like I'll always be on fairly low level (in terms of wage) jobs. The past 10 years have been pretty much doing what I can to get out of university-related debt, too. 

Socially, I'm in a much better place, though. 

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23 hours ago, Happenstance said:

Work-wise I’ve been unhappy in my job for a long time. I’ve posted before about a need for job satisfaction and that’s still the case. I am however trying to be a bit more proactive about changing things. Despite not always being great at it I’ve always wanted to work in a more creative field so I’m attempting to work towards that. I’ve bought a new camera to practice with, I’ve bought the Photoshop subscription and am taking courses to prove to potential employers that I know the software.

Had my boss chat with me today about taking on more work at the school. All stuff I can do and I'll be accepting as I definitely need the extra money but it does still just leave me working even more at a job I don't like.

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Its something that's plagued my mind a lot these last few weeks/months with me turning 32 in a week and a half time.

Generally speaking, I don't think I do know what I'm doing. Breaking that down, personally its a yes and a no and professionally, I really don't have a clue what I'm doing or where I'm going.

On the personal front, I've got the most amazing partner who has been so supportive over the last couple of years and has gone over and above to help me. We're in a great place together, stronger than ever (not that we've ever had a bad day) and just love spending every day together. Ideally I'd have loved for us to have bought our first house together by now and to be married but things have gotten in the way of both but to be honest, it feels like we're married as it is and when we're able to do so, we'll do it how we want.

But from there, my personal life falls apart a bit. I don't speak to my family much, for a variety of reasons and when I've tried I rarely hear back from them. I've not spoken to my grandmother for nearly 3 years because of her constant meddling and twisting of things. She cancelled a birthday cheque to me because she felt I withheld showing her a picture of my brother's first child, her great granddaughter, despite the fact I didn't have a picture and had only seen it on Facebook. She didn't ask to see it. This was spun along and twisted by her and my sister as me being horrible and keeping her right to see her great grand daughter from her, despite my brother wanting nothing to do with her. She wouldn't apologise so left is as we'll speak when she's ready to do so.

Have issues with my mother because of extensive emotional abuse growing up, as has become clear through speaking with people over the years. I've never confronted her about it but I've always been painted as having a chip on my shoulder with regards to our relationship but I'll leave that as its personal and difficult to go into. Its certainly tainted my personal life and is something I'm struggling with now.

Socially, because of the aforementioned stuff and because I've been used by many so called friends for money (including times such as bailing someone out of a hole at a casino and then being told I was clearly looking for more than friendship because of it. I'd made perfectly clear many times that I was only looking to be friends because of my mental health issues and that was all it ever was) or been dropped like a hat without any word to explain whats happened, I've struggled post uni to keep a friend group or to even have friends. So yeah, if it wasn't for my partner and her side of the family, I'd really not know what I was doing personally.

Professionally I have no idea where I'm going. I dropped out of my Ph.D. for mental and physical health reasons and even now, its stuff I'm dealing with (seizures, non-allergic rhinitis, stomach/gall bladder issues and depression). I took time to get settled after I left but I've really struggled to land a long term job and right now, I've been out of work for over a year and I'm struggling to get my foot in anywhere. The drive just isn't there because of how little progress I've made professionally and its just been difficult to move from 10 years in academia to anything else. I don't even want much to do with what I studied for all that time at uni (psychology) because of how negatively my Ph.D. impacted my health.

So I don't really know what I want to be doing or where I want to go. I keep comparing myself to others from uni on Facebook who are off doing this and that but I know people do things at their own pace and that I shouldn't. Its just hard to see a little at the end of the tunnel when I don't know where to start.

I loved lecturing but can't really see a way into doing that as to get to uni level lecturing, I'd need to finish my Ph.D. but I have no intention of going back to that and college level just seems to be extremely difficult to get into. I still enjoy the science side of things but don't want to do research and I'm good enough at data analysis but can't see myself as a data analyst. Don't really know how to take my skills and transfer them and my interests, gaming and music, don't really present any in roads (I did do freelance reviews years back but stopped to focus on uni and now there's an oversaturation of gaming media, including influences now, so its now a viable avenue professionally despite my interest in long form writing).

I'm sure I'll figure it out but its coincidental a thread like this would turn up when its really been on my mind a lot recently. Maybe I'll get there soon, maybe not but I'll hopefully get there with a bit of perspective.

So no I don't really know what I'm doing. But thankfully I've the support of an amazing woman who's helping me through things and with some time, I'll hopefully get to where I'm meant to be going.

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I think I’ve got most things pretty well laid out but also have lots of other things I’m really not sure about.

Career-wise I’ve always done pretty well and have done many things I would never have thought possible. I’ve worked all over the world in some really interesting roles and pretty much never felt like I was actually working. I always think a good measure on this one is how amazed would young you be when told what you do now and I think I’d be pretty impressed. My latest role is a little bland but I get paid really well and it seems very secure which is a good thing right now. I’d like to go back to a startup or company just setting up here but don’t think that’s likely anytime soon. Best to just get on with things as they are.

On the personal side things are pretty damn great right now. My son is going to be one next week and he’s been a real joy for the last 12 months. Relationship-wise everything is awesome and my wife and I will have our 4th anniversary in a couple of months time. Absolutely no complaints there.

The main thing I’m unsure on is long-term living location. Singapore is great when you can travel but pretty boring after being stuck here for the last year and a half and no end in sight. Then there’s the school issue, there is no way in hell I will send my kids to a local school but a decent international school is going to cost upwards of $10k a term. If I can get a decent-ish pay bump soon then that’s not such a worry but right now it would really be a strain. If we leave I’m not sure where I’d want to go. Back to Japan would be great for living but not so good for school or work. UK would be good for school and family but not so much for work or living. US is probably not doable with visa realities. So I’m a bit stuck on that one.

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