Sunday, October 12

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #19.

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#19 - "Do You Know Who You Are?"
(Originally Published March 7, 2008.)

Do You Know Who You Are?

So, here it is. The big secret. The reason that I've been downtrodden, ill, douchebaggy and unreasonable all week. I'm letting it spill because there's really nothing left to lose.

I interviewed for a major promotional position at my office on Tuesday.

This position has been weighing heavily on me for a couple of weeks now, turning me into an unfocused, emotional zombie around the house and causing the CDP to slightly dip in quality (either that, or I've fallen in love; the symptoms are about the same). What better way to shake off the funk than to completely air out my problems through the very public forum I've created for the sole purpose of leaving my actual problems behind?

The advancement between what I do now for a living and what I will potentially be doing for a living is massive. So massive, in fact, that...well, let's just get right into it, shall we?

What I do for 40 hours a week now is a job. I do what I need to do, and when I get home I shake it off and live the life I want to live. The money is fair, the work is easy enough and I enjoy coming to the office in the morning. Should I get this promotion, however, it would now be a career. Overtime. Business trips. Round-the-clock suits and ties. Handshakes and toothy grins. You know, that kind of person. The kind of person that has fought his or her entire life to get to that deserving position of power, and are truly content in being remembered after death as a businessman and professional. I respect that; I really do.

I, on the other hand, have been pulled into this void through forces beyond my control. On my first day with the agency in 2004, I spent most of the day sweeping out a supply closet while wearing the nicest suit I owned at the time. From there, I answered phones, opened mail, worked the Hearing Impaired switchboard and was essentially given every job that nobody wanted to do. I was so low on the totem pole that most employees thought I was a Summer intern. When I came back to the agency after getting married, most people had forgotten who I was.

I didn't mind it. In fact, there are days where I wish I was still sweeping that closet. Days when I wish I had less responsibility, and could gracefully back out of adulthood and go back to my grandmother's basement and sleep until 2pm.

But I worked hard, made friends and got noticed. I was promoted two times in the next two years, dusted myself off and was thrown into an office. I was given more work, answered to less people and made more money. Through it all, though, I maintained the attitude I walked in with. 'Pay the bills and go home.' 'This isn't really my job,' I naively thought, 'this is just what I do so I can write in my spare time.' However, with the upcoming decision being made about the fate of my employment, this is far more than a change in scenery and duties. This is a life change that will effect everything.

I’m constantly reminded that if I get this job, it’ll all be ours. The finished basement, the tropical vacations, the retirement security, the American Dream; all of that stupid, pointless crap that I seem to care so damn much about. Had I just been content to function as a meager, struggling author for the remainder of my 20's, I wouldn't care less about that sort of hedonistic rubbish.

Truth is, however, that I'm not much for struggling, and no decent, married man would turn down the opportunity to make things better for his family, regardless of if that means sacrificing a little bit of his aspirations. In fact, I would theorize that this decision eventually dawns on every responsible adult at some point in their lives. When is the right time, if any, to set the dream aside? Everyone knows how much I oppose selling my blog out, so it would make sense to think that I'd have a moral issue with selling my life out. You'd be right, too. I've been aching like you wouldn't believe the past few days, completely unsure of everything for the first time in many years. I'm a smart guy, why is this so hard for me to understand?

The pros are as follows. This job will give me the financial security I need to advance fully into the world of successful adulthood that I was quite certain would never happen to me. We can buy the nice house, keep two nice cars in the garage, amass a hefty nest egg and lay to rest any issues we might have had in the past when it came to extra cash. Dare I say it, we may even be able to start a family. For a guy like me, that grew up kind of poor and barely graduated from High School, this is far more than I need or deserve to be happy on a superficial level. I'm extremely conservative when it comes to preparing for the future, and this position represents the harmony and peace that I've never felt when I fall asleep at night (albeit boring and lacking individual character).

Which brings us to the cons. First off, this job is hard, okay? As someone who has defied the odds and enjoyed almost every day of work for the last four years, taking a step into oncoming traffic feels a little dangerous, illogical and potentially lethal. What if I hate it? What if I can't hack it? What if I come home every day like a miserable 1950's dad, hassling his wife for dinner and pouring glass after glass of straight Brandy, counting down the seconds until I have to throw the tie back on and do it all over again? I'd hate myself, and I'd hate that I let my employment negatively effect my life at home, which is something I take pride in never doing. I can't turn into that type of person; my 1987 persona would travel forward in time to stab me while I slept, due to me turning my back on all the things that I was put on this planet to accomplish.

Furthermore, and arguably the most important on a personal level, is that fact that I will no longer have the time, resources and capabilities to continue writing and pursuing creative ventures like I do right now. The CDP will cease to exist as you know it. The creation and eventual publication of my second book will have to be relegated to 'hobby' status. In essence, I will need to put my 'real' job at the top of my priorities list, which is something I have honestly never done. I'd still write to make myself happy, but it would go without saying that most of the dream would be over. The stressors of work would have no choice but to come home with me, effectively draining me of whatever creative juices were left for the written word.

I have yet to determine what this is a clash of. Is it a clash between childhood and adulthood? Responsibility and irresponsibility? Security and pursuing your true path? Logic and heart? It's probably a combination of everything, and it's taking a far greater toll on me than I thought it would. If I get the job, this is the decision I'm forced to make. If I don't get the job, nothing changes and I'm left to wonder what could have been. I don't know what's worse.

It disgusts me that I let things like this have such emotional control over me. I think we all have this feeling from time to time, though. What was just a week ago supposed to be a nonchalant, 'we'll see what happens' interview, has now turned into something that I have absolutely no set opinion on, and will leave me with an equal amount of happiness and regret no matter what.

As I poured over my resume, cover letter and references before the interview, I listened to the Lifetime classic from 1996, 'Jersey's Best Dancers,' on my iPod. I couldn't help but to laugh at the irony of enjoying nostalgic, hardcore emo-punk from my teenage years, while prepping myself for my biggest foray into professional adulthood yet, sporting a tie and tucked-in $70 shirt. The blue-haired kid that bought this album at the age of 18 would be so embarrassed to see the 26 year old whore he turned out to be.

Then again, the 26 year old is pretty embarrassed of the 18 year old, too. He didn't understand what it meant to have a wife, constant monthly bills and increasing pressures from every corner of his waking day. He didn't know what it meant to be a responsible husband, corporate professional and a son that his mom could be proud of. How dare he step in and criticize something that he has no business attempting to understand? How dare he hold me back?

In a perfect world, I'd be a successful author. However, I'm intelligent and jaded enough to understand that I shouldn't be holding my breath. I should take what I can get. I should grasp that brass ring, accept the security and responsibility I've worked so hard for, and screw those hopes and dreams that eventually get us all nowhere. I can't do it, though.

I just can't do it.

I received my mix in the mail yesterday and am currently enjoying it. I am hoping to find the cds with the songs I want tomorrow. Organization is not my friend.
Sweet, I'm glad it made it there okay. =-)
I've given a lot of thought to the work/life issue.

I have a lot of things I do outside of work that I love. I write a bit, I'm working on a movie, and I fix cars and motorcycles. I enjoy these things, but I don't think I'd be happy doing them for a living. Because if I did, doing that would become a job rather than recreation, and I worry that it would stop being fun.

I have a job like what you describe. It's demanding, challenging, and lucrative. I'm happy there, but if they didn't pay me I wouldn't go. And I'm just fine with that. The job affords me the stability to be unconcerned and the opportunity to do the fun things I want to do with the rest of my time.

Given the choice between 1) scraping by doing something I love professionally and 2) doing the things I love in my spare time, I'll choose #2 any day of the week.

Because I don't have the time* to read through the entries after this was originally posted: did you get the job?

* - Feel free to read this as "I'm too lazy" or "I'm too much of a slave to my job to take more than a five minute internet break during work" if you wish.

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