Career Changes and Fear of the Unknown

Two and a half years ago, I tried climbing.

I had just graduated from grad school, I was working at a nonprofit doing research in the international automobile industry (I know, random), and struggling to find work "in my field" (US foreign policy).

The n00biest picture that exists of me on the internet.
Note the rainbow feet and sneakers.
I loved climbing. Many of you know the story, as I've written about it here a few times - I went from weekly open climb sessions to four-to-five days a week of bouldering. After about a year and a half of that, I knew something was off.

I felt fulfilled when I climbed. I felt belonging and "fit" within the climbing community, and every day, all day at work, I looked forward to climbing.

I changed jobs, and worked at another nonprofit, this time in the propane industry. I needed more money and better benefits, so I took this job even though it was even further outside "my field". I felt I needed to rise and grow, professionally. I felt the need to do the regular "adult" thing and continue on a trajectory to higher-paying, higher-powered jobs, regardless off whether I was dispassionate about them.

Something was off.

I wasn't happy. I mean, I was happy, but I didn't feel fulfilled. I didn't wake up every day feeling excited about what I was doing for a living. I didn't feel bummed on Sundays because I wasn't working that day - instead, I was elated on Fridays because I got two days off of work, and bummed on Sundays because I knew I had to go back to work the next day. You know, the typical American nine-to-fiver mentality. That was me.

In May of 2014, I went to the Red River Gorge, and it all clicked for me. I knew I wanted to make a career in the climbing community, and spend my life developing athletes and drawing people to the sport that changed my life. But, I was scared. We lived in DC, and we didn't have the opportunity for me to make such a huge career change and still be able to pay our bills. I was stuck.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Kinney
Then, we found out we were moving. And I decided to entertain the idea that maybe we would be okay if I decided to take the plunge. I still interviewed for other full-time, administrative office positions, because I knew I would get them, be good at them, and because I knew they would be stable jobs with salaries and health benefits. But I felt extremely conflicted with every interview. I knew I didn't want these jobs, I just knew they were the jobs I should be looking for. It wasn't what I really wanted to do with my life.

I knew if I made this change, it would be scary, and totally unknown. For all of my adult life, I have worked full-time. Every moment I wasn't in school or studying abroad, I have held a traditional, full-time job. Bank teller, assistant retail manager, program coordinator, researcher, administrative assistant. On and on.  I knew that by changing my career to focus on climbing, I would be taking a huge pay cut, and would have to make sacrifices to make it work.


Photo courtesy of Jeremy Kinney
In some ways, my choice to take the job I have with Hoosier Heights has been a scary change for us, but I am so glad I made this change (and that my husband supports me). I'm bummed on Sundays because I'm not working, and I wake up on Mondays excited to get to work. I have time to work on the blog so that we can make this opportunity work for me. We may have to adjust our expectations and make sacrifices along the way, but I've really never been happier. Five years ago, I never would have imagined I'd have a job I felt so passionately about, where I'd be so happy to go every day, where I'd be training kids that I love, where my skills are valued and where I never feel stressed. It's all been so worth it.

5 comments:

  1. That is so awesome that you've found a job that fulfills you and that you love. I'm still searching for that. Obviously, I love Motherhood, but when the kids are all in school in a year or two, I need to find something else. I'm hoping it will be blogging, but we'll have to see if I can make it work.

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  2. Change is hard... whether it be lifestyle, jobs, family etc - I am middle aged... I find that as I get older embracing change gets harder and harder! So wonderful you have a great job! Blessings!

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  3. Great minds indeed! <3 I'm so glad you took the leap and went for what you wanted to do! <3 Waking up excited to get to work is such a wonderful feeling! :]!

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  4. I love that you went for it! Making a transition like that can be hard. Plus, I love climbing as well :)

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  5. That is wonderful you are doing what you love. I am in the middle of a move like this and its so stressful, but praying it all works out!

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