This week has been a very busy time, I have been out every night, meeting different groups of friends from all of my different past lives.
The only good part about changing jobs often is the friends that you make along the way. These past months, and now years, I have been in a work crisis, wondering why I could not enjoy the same job for more than a year. I have had the need to change position and environment basically every year since I have started working. Although it is something I need to do for my mental well-being, it is hard at times to say good-bye to the people you have shared so many things with and to start brand new relationships with different colleagues over and over.
Although I have this itchy feet syndrome and I need to move so often, I also build deep relationships wherever I go and it is doesn’t get easier with time, I just learned that this is something I need to get used to.
After 6 years though, I also realized that this is not something I can keep doing forever. Although I had heard about these reckless people that start their own business, that are not able to work in a corporate firm (like…everybody in my family), I was also convinced that being an Engineer type of person, I was pragmatic and could enjoy working on big international projects my whole career. But then I realized that the problem is not the projects, they are impressive and I always feel much pride working for the fabrication of multi-billion power plants. I realized that I am just a pawn in this huge machine and I am replaceable. Everybody is. I thought for a long time about changing my life but I was afraid not really about the financial aspect but mostly about the loneliness when you work on your startup, on your own or even with 2/3 partners. I love going to work and meeting tens of people I know and I appreciate every day. The second thing that scared me was the fact that I have never been prepared for that. Nobody ever told me during my studies that I actually had a choice. And choosing to do something different when you know your current career will be growing, will be safe a you will never have to worry about money felt smart enough to do on the long term.
So I tried. Changed jobs when feeling bored. Went from a big company to another big company, meeting people from all around the world. I enjoyed the people, I felt suffocated by the work. Whenever I would think about my future me, even the “manager me” maybe in 10 years, I would panic. I resigned again.
Then the answer started growing in my mind. And it got scarier. Because I had no choice anymore. I could not do that forever. But it is hard to act when you only know that something is wrong but do not know how to change it.
That is when I started reading self improvement books, started following online courses about everything and anything, stated doing new things and never pursuing them. I had been closed in a box for so long I needed to see everything I could have been doing instead. Yes, I could just have a job for the day and enjoy some hobbies at night. Except I am an all of nothing kind of person. I love or hate, and once I realized I hated this 9 to 5 work life, I could not tolerate it anymore. I was clearly going through a depression but did not have the words for it. I wanted to act strong and take care of it. Problem is, when you start learning on your own, with no clear direction or goal, the task seems immense and never-ending.
Self-improvement books can be very addictive and make you need always more reading, and while you always learn new things, you also become confused on what to do practically. Although I have been changing my life for the past months I have waited for a long time to write this article. Before this day I was still scared of my dream life, I was too deep in my work to actually picture myself resigning or picturing myself not resigning, I was too doubtful about the fact that I would actually be going through with my ideas.
However, in the past few weeks I have started seeing all this in a whole new light. I am not the only one of my age (very soon to be 30) getting a mid life crisis. And also, now I can feel that it is going to be OK. Whatever I do, whatever I decide I will figure it out. There is no hurry. I have been feeling so stressed out by my 30th birthday, thinking that I should sort everything out before then (I always give myself deadlines) than I have not had a moment to rest. Lately I have not been able to watch a movie or read a novel without thinking that I should be doing something more productive instead. Be actively figuring my life out.
The first thing that put my anxiety at rest came from reading that I actually did not have to decide right away or even commit forever to my future job. As I have been thinking about my perfect future life, job, the country I would live in, my daily routine, I could not set my mind on one. I could feel that even in my mind any choice would bore me after some time. If I was living on a Caribbean island I would be so tanned, I could read all day on the beach, work in a bar at night, and have a relaxing/no worries kind of life. But wouldn’t I miss the intellectual challenge of my years as an engineer? If I was building a startup to make money while working for myself, wouldn’t I miss my artistic passion? would I have time to dedicate to my drawing? If I chose to live in Brasil, how often could I go back to see my friends and family? All choices come with consequences. And then I had the answer in one of my life changing books “Be a Free Range Human: escape the 9 to 5, create a life you will love and still pay the bills” (more on my next post). I did not have to commit to one life, if change was my motto, then I should build my life in that way. Work from my laptop and change location every 6 months? build different businesses in different sectors (IT, arts, social sciences), keep an engineering job but work from home where I could stay my family more.
As I said, now I know it is going to be OK, I have many ideas and with time the good ones will emerge. In the meantime I am calmer and more optimistic about what is coming ahead. Having too many options is scary, but is also a luxury.
A touching TEDx video about “multipotentialite” people:
And this very inspiring reading for the French speakers:
“Je n’ai pas trouvé ma place dans ce monde du travail et je compte bien la créer” – by Matthieu Leventis, Entrepreneur. Interested in social sciences and technology for dance. Master in Quantitative Economics & engineer from Ecole Polytechnique