Storytime, guys. Once upon a time, right before I started this blog, I managed a shoe store. And back then, I’d worked hard to get that position. I’d put in intense hours, said yes to abusive things. I did something I’m still pretty proud of and worked with several cheer squads to provide their shoes. That alone brought in thousands in revenue for my store. I could go on, but you get the point. I wanted to be the manager.
And I got it.
Funny thing about wanting something and working really really hard for it. You often get it. And you think that’s going to make you happy, right?
I got the manager job, and I did a happy dance around the store. And if I was committed before, I was doubly so after. I was so proud.
It took me months to realize I was struggling emotionally. To realize that I hated the damn place, the job and everything about it.
For a long time, I tried to ignore that feeling. I beat myself up over it. I told myself that I didn’t have any right to be unhappy. Isn’t this what I’d worked for? A poisoned mantra was imprinted in my mind, and I couldn’t get rid of it. I didn’t want to get rid of it, because it served me. It made me get up and go to work every day, even when I’d rather have died.
I’ll never be happy if I’m not happy here.
The realization that something had to change didn’t hit me all at once. It came in trickles. Moments that, when looked back upon, should have been my wake-up call. (Like the time I got a bad kidney stone. I was in so much pain I thought I was going to have to be hospitalized. And I was scared to take a day off of work.) But there were so many, many reasons to ignore them. Really good, adult reasons too.
This was the best job I’d ever had.
I was making more money than ever.
This job was way better than any my mother had ever had.
I had a family relying on me.
I loved most of the people I worked with.
Our rent was high.
I didn’t think I was qualified for any other job.
I didn’t think I deserved a better life.
I’d worked so damn hard to get there. What if I threw it all away and I still wasn’t happy?
I would love to tell you that I eventually made the leap and improved my life all on my own. Sadly, I didn’t. But I did start writing again, after not writing anything for years. And this helped, for a time.
I thank God that I got fired from that job. Honestly, I don’t know if I ever would have been brave enough to leave on my own.
From there, everything changed. I got another day job, something I never thought I was good enough for. I wrote more and got published. I worked hard, again. I got what I wanted again. Thank God, I liked it a lot better this time.
I’m telling you all that to tell you another story. The manager at my current day job, the one I didn’t think I was good enough for but went for anyway, just left. She got a better job. Which isn’t to say, at all, that this job isn’t good. Just that she could do better, so she did.
Right now I have a day job that I like. I help people, that has value to me. I respect the company that I work for, that has value to me. I feel respected, that has huge value to me. I have a nice home. I have a job as a critic on Haunted Mtl. I have several published books.
In short, the life I live today has exceeded my dreams from before I started this blog. I am happy.
But I will never, ever let that poisoned mantra come back.
We can do better. Obviously, I don’t just mean our day jobs. I mean, more than anything, our art.
If you have a job writing, or you’ve been published, that is freaking amazing. Pop some champaign, do the Snoopy dance. Then, decide what your next step is. Because I told you all that to tell you this. While I didn’t let that poison mantra return, I did plateau over the last few years.
So I’m working on that. I’m going back to the basics. I’m working on really improving my writing. I’m trying to get an agent, trying to join SFWA.
I never want to learn this lesson the hard way again. There is always another level to reach for. I can always be a better version of myself. I can always surpass my goals, my dreams.
Dream high, guys. You are capable of so much more than you think.