She Works Hard for the Joy (?): Professional Abandonment

As I reflected on what I was going to write for today’s abandonment topic, I began to think about the struggle many of us have with our professional lives these days. Whether your issue is unemployment; underemployment; having a job you hate; having a job you like but are unfulfilled; or having no clue what kind of career you want…

Have you ever felt abandoned by your job/career/professional purpose?

You have probably guessed my answer to that question by now. YES. In my case, I have felt abandoned in my professional life because I have attributed a large part of my own self worth to having a “job” and making money. I felt worthy because I had a job that paid well instead of feeling worthy…well, just because I AM.

“The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute (Brown, 2010).”

Not only did I make a decent income, but if someone asked me what I did, I could tell them exactly what that was. For example, when I worked in customer service, and someone in a social setting asked me what I did, I could introduce myself and and say,

hi my name is Michele, and I am a Customer Service Representative.

Saying I am a Customer Service Rep is a lot easier and smoother than saying,

hi my name is Michele, I am a writer, musician, human-animal bond researcher, liberal, public servant, PhD candidate, animal lover, 12 stepper, and General Hospital (GH) fan.

Ok, well maybe I don’t have to go that far and share all of that information because part of that is more interest than professional. But you get my drift. Just explaining to someone that I’m a writer, musician, and human-animal bond researcher gets enough strange looks that I want to crawl into a hole. It “looks” better to just be focused on one thing. I usually begin to put myself down in these situations and I say, oh I’m all over the place, I don’t know what I’m doing. I hadn’t realized until now that in those cases, I am actually abandoning myself and my own professional vision.

But I just started reading a wonderful book that has identified a term for the type of professional person I am. I am a “Scanner.”

“Scanners love to read and write, to fix and invent things, to design projects and businesses to cook and sing and to create the perfect dinner party…[the word 'or' was not used] because Scanners don’t love to do one thing or the other; they love them all (Sher, 2006).”

Maybe your situation is much different. Maybe you have been laid off, downsized, rejected for jobs applied for, passed over for a promotion, doing the work of two people for one salary, or your job responsibilities are unclear. All of these things can activate feelings of being abandoned by your employer, co-workers, or even the job market as a whole. I can relate through my own experiences:

  • Scenario 1: I stayed loyal to my first job after college for several years and even thought I would retire with that company…only to be downsized after 8 years of service.
  • Scenario 2: At my next job, I was deceived about my job responsibilities and led to believe I would be doing one thing and ended up doing another. I stayed loyal to that job until the work environment became unbearable.
  • Scenario 3: I have most recently stayed loyal to the job search only to get rejection after rejection.

Have you noticed the common theme here? Loyalty. I remained loyal to everything external, but never to myself. The lesson I have learned here is that my professional loyalty has to be to myself and my vision. What professionally brings me joy? What do I enjoy doing? What are my work values (i.e. helping others and society, autonomy, etc.)? What are my talents and/or spiritual gifts (i.e. compassion, teaching, etc.)? And what can I sacrifice in order to do the things I love, so that I won’t abandon myself in my professional life?

Now you may say, that sounds all well and good Michele, but girrrl, don’t you know I got bills to pay and a family to support?? I don’t have time or the money to “enjoy” my work!! After all, it’s called work for a reason!

My response is yes, I feel you (that’s my sad attempt at slang). But money isn’t everything. Start small, get a vision, and ease into your dreams. Don’t abandon yourself. Your dreams don’t cost a thing.

Sources

  • Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, MN: Hazelden.
  • Sher, B. (2006). Refuse to choose! Use all of your interests, passions, and hobbies to create the life and career of your dreams. New York, NY: Rodale.

Posted on March 7, 2012, in Personal Essays, Thoughts & Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You are so right. Bosses in corporate America stress loyalty to the company, but loyalty to self is so much more important. Thank you for putting that into words! I had never thought of it that way before. When I leave a job (and I have a few times for personal reasons), I always feel such guilt. Gotta work on that. :)

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