comfort zones

I’m a chicken. Really, I am. Oh, not about some things like being the first on ropes courses. But other things, like real life stuff.

I feel like I’m in a rut. My job isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be – I think mainly because it’s changed quite a bit from when I started. I don’t feel like I’m making a difference any more. I don’t feel as valued. Anyone could do my job now. Yet I don’t leave. Because I don’t know what else I’d do.
When I started six years ago (yeah, it’s been that long), I literally woke up every day feeling like I was in my dream job. I could see how I was making a difference, how what I was doing mattered on a grander scale. Now I spend most of my time scheduling meetings or typing minutes – which I did before, but that wasn’t all I did.
But what else can I do? While I have a college degree, it’s in something that’s not finished. The only thing you can do with an architecture degree is become an architect, which would take at least five more years of study for me. And, truly, I don’t want to be an architect.
I kind of lament not majoring in something a bit more flexible, like a business-related field. I honestly think the concept of asking 18-year-olds to pick what they want to do for the rest of their life is ludicrous. I think most people don’t have any idea about what they really like until they’re out from under the safety of family and college, and into the real world. If I’m ever a parent, I’ll try to encourage my kids to get a job or volunteer or look at internships when they’re in high school – mainly so they can start discovering what they like or don’t like to do. And when they’re done with high school, don’t have to go to college right away.
(Of course, I say all this now, but know it’s quite possible my mind will change after experiencing parenthood. But that’s my ideal bubble at the moment.)
The thing is, I know what I like to do. I like to “assist” others to achieve higher goals. So for me being a secretary really is a good choice. I’ve always felt – and told my bosses – that I believe my job is to help him do his job better. And I get fulfillment from that. So scheduling the meetings (and to some extent typing minutes) doesn’t really bug me as much as I implied earlier. But still, some of the things I do feel like busy work that don’t make a lot of difference in an end product. This probably all comes from my spiritual gift of service.
There are other reasons I’m not as happy at work, but I won’t mention them here because the internet’s not so private.
So lately – like the past six months or so – I’ve been feeling… restless. I want to get out and do something. I want to see the world. I’ve never had the travel bug before, but I think I’ve got a bad case now. And that’s restlessness nags all the more as I’ve seen several friends / acquaintances in the past year-ish move to other countries to pursue dreams or have adventures. I crave adventure. More than seeing sights, I think I want to experience cultures and different ways of life. Another regret I have is going to school here, so close to home. College is a great excuse to go off to a new place and see and experience new things, but like a chicken I stayed here. (Don’t let this make you think for one moment that I don’t still love Colorado, though.) Or at least I should have looked into studying abroad for a semester. Hang the expense! I’m too practical at times, worrying about the costs. I should have taken the risk; a few more student loan payments would have been worth it.
So what now? I don’t know. I ended up on this site a few days ago. It’s a missionary hospital ship that docks places around the world to provide medical care. I know I’m not a health care worker, but do you think they might need someone to file paperwork? Scrub floors? Really, I’m all about behind-the-scenes, supporting-those-on-the-front-lines kind of work. Plus the concept of living in a small space with no room for possessions excites me. I was completely happy living out of a suitcase at a mission in Texas for a month. I honestly think I could do it long-term; it gives you perspective.
The problem with being a secretary is it’s not a profession that readily transfers to another culture. Unlike studying math or medicine or engineering, secretary-ing requires a skill of language. Gotta be able to read, write, spell, and have decent grammar. Even if I were to move to the UK or Australia, the language isn’t quite the same. I’d be at a disadvantage, especially as there’s so many people who can secretary that I imagine they aren’t in great demand.
So, another option is getting certified for TEFL – teaching English as a foreign language. You’re not expected to know the language in the country where you go, just how to teach English. I could do that. In addition to assisting, I actually do enjoy teaching. Really, I like showing people how to do things instead of doing it for them. And in a way it all goes back to assisting people so they can achieve higher goals, and giving them language tools is another way to do that.
But behind it all is that chicken-ness. If I’m going to do something like sell everything to work on a missionary boat or teach English in India I need to do it full-throttle. There’s no turning back. I think I could do it, but I have to take that first step. And not be afraid of failure. So where does this all leave me? I think deep in prayer. Lots of prayer.
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