This is definitely a passion project for me, as I've spent more years than I care to admit feeling deeply affected by my various jobs. I have thought long and hard and done my share of kicking and crying as I realized how much I have let my job affect my sense of self worth. After all, when you work 40 hours a week and commute on top of that, it's hard for the rest of your life not to be affected.
I'm getting to the point where I can now start to see how much this anxiety and shame and anger has been affecting my ability to build the rest of my life. I know what it feels like to be angry. I know what it feels like to feel cheated out of something you worked hard for and really want. I wish so much that I could wake up tomorrow and be paid to be making theatre. I wish I never had to take another day job again.
But I can't quit my day job; I probably won't get a call with a job offer of "paid documentary theatre artist" any time soon. So I'm going to be stubborn and risk being labeled a "Pollyanna" and keep going. I make a deal with myself every day that I can complain about how unfair it feels, I cannot give up on the possibility that unexpected surprises may come, but I will not give up. We each have a calling, a vocation, a purpose, and it is our job to be faithful to that however we can. This means something different to each of us, and it is constantly evolving. But I beg of you, if you believe you have a purpose, something you feel like you were put on this earth to do, you have to do it. However you can--leap, walk, crawl, or whisper. Just don't give up.
I remember seeing the drawing above when I was in elementary school. I saw an old lady and had my mind blown to discover than many of my classmates saw a young woman. What?! After sitting with the picture for several minutes, I saw the young woman, too. It felt like magic.
When I'm really down, I see myself as a woman who went into a lot of debt getting three degrees in theatre and history, two fields that have nothing to do with how I earn my money. I see someone who has worked days jobs for nearly ten years just to pay bills and is nowhere near the light at the end of that tunnel. I see someone with only a few hours at the end of each day to herself. It can feel pretty bleak.
But if I get stubborn about it, I am able to see myself as a person who earned three degrees in subjects she loved immensely and didn't give in to opinions that she should choose something more practical instead. I see someone who has spent more than half her life learning about and making theatre. I see someone who married her best friend and has an entire community of close friends around her (near and far). I see someone who has evenings and weekends to herself and the time and energy to indulge in books, movies, and people I love. I see someone who hasn't given up. This is a much different picture.
Give it a try. I know it can feel hard, impossible even, to shift your view, but just try. Even if you just get a glimpse of something different, it might help you to see that while you may not be exactly where you want to end up, there are most definitely elements of your life that are right where you want them. Sure, maybe you're not a published author yet, but you're writing. Maybe you're not full time in your profession, but you're taking a night class. Maybe you're not hiking the whole Appalachian Trail, but you're doing some short hikes on the weekend. The things we love don't always come in the proportions we would like, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there.
Be stubborn. Don't give up. If you really look for it, what do you see?