How Did I End Up Here, Stuck In This Shitty Work?

This weekend I met a woman at a party and she volunteered something that seems to be pretty common amongst my generation

This weekend I met a woman at a party and she volunteered something that seems to be pretty common amongst my generation

“I’m 43 years of age, and these days I find I’m constantly asking myself, how did I end up here?” She said, staring at nothing in particular.

I just listened for what I knew was coming next.

“It’s like, is this all there is?”

“I mean, it’s not like I’m ungrateful for the opportunities I’ve had in my life, the people I’ve met, my job, or the money I’ve made, but there’s got to be something more.”

I just smiled and agreed. There’s nothing more I could offer her other than that.

It’s weird magic you know.

I’m having these types of conversations all the time. The more I write about creativity and breaking free from the Standard Working Model, the more people share their stories.

Stories of frustration, dissatisfaction and unfulfillment.

It seems particularly common amongst my fellow 40 somethings. The ones who’ve followed the pre-written script for success, and yet are left empty.

It’s a well told story, but it’s not the story we were meant to tell.

The Sense Of Something Missing

I was at a party with my wife and her friends, people I knew casually and got on well with.

We just got chatting, you know the usual shit you talk about with someone you’ve just met — what do you do? That kind of thing.

For a long time I actually struggled to answer that question; what do you do? Still do to some degree.

She didn’t know me from Adam, and had no reason to share her story with me. Maybe I coaxed it out of her by virtue of where I am.

“I don’t know why I do the job I do”, she said. “I just kind of fell into it. These days I feel like there’s something missing, you know?”

Sounded familiar.

We got talking about creativity and the enjoyment that we can get from just making stuff for the sake of it.

Baking, cooking a meal, hooking up with friends and jamming, something, anything that’s not work.

Work has such a negative association around it. No surprise really given that the entire driving force behind work is an economic one.

Very few of us do what we do for the love for it. Instead the pay packet is the driving force and to me there’s something fundamentally flawed with this.

The Artist’s Manifesto is a short book about staying true to our art. It is a call to Artists and Creatives like you to create from the heart with passion and integrity, disregarding the need for applause and recognition. It’s available from 13th May 2017. Grab your FREE copy here.

Here’s What We Can Do Instead

I’ve come to realise there’s no forcing ourselves out of this place of fundamental dissatisfaction with work. We simply have to ride it out.

That doesn’t mean we accept where we are and give up on ever finding happiness in our work. On the contrary, it means we have an opportunity to make a change.

Make a soft change, a subtle change in daily habits. Little by little we can move towards that and away from the work we’d rather not do.

Mearaid (not her real name), spoke about lacking the courage to make the jump away from her day job and towards something else.

But I don’t think it’s about being brave necessarily. I think it’s more about timing.

In retrospect we perceive a process, but in the moment it’s more of moving when the time is right.

Sitting on the fence is part of it and forcing ourselves to move before we are ready can often produce poor results.

When the time is right you’ll know. Rather than pushing to get somewhere else, it feels like we’re being drawn, it’s an unmistakable feeling.

When it comes there’s no mistaking it, we just have to go.

What To Do Until Then

Mearaid told me that playing the guitar was like meditation for her. “That’s exactly it!” I said.

When we do stuff, make stuff, purely for the sake of it, then something else kicks in and takes over.

That’s where we need to be.

All the hints and guidance we need are in the small voice. The one that’s quiet when we are loud, and loud when we are quiet.

Taking time out for that is vital if we are to find and do what makes us happy. Only we can say for ourselves when the time is right to move.

Any time I tried to move before I was ready things didn’t work out. Now I look philosophically on these monumental fuck ups and accept the value in them.

If we take time to be quiet, when the right moment comes we’ll know.

The Artist’s Manifesto is a short book about staying true to our art. It is a call to Artists and Creatives like you to create from the heart with passion and integrity, disregarding the need for applause and recognition. It’s available from 13th May 2017. Grab your FREE copy here.

Originally published at larrygmaguire.com on May 22, 2017.

Howdy, I’m Larry, Writer & Artist. Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. I write short stories about the ordinary lives of people and the challenges they face. My stuff can be edgy, hard hitting, and sometimes controversial, but never contrived. If that’s your bag you can Sign-up To Sunday Letters Here.