It’s dreary and miserable up here in Brisbane today. It’s been that way for the last few days… overcast, gloomy, rainy at times. It’s perfect weather to snuggle up under a big blanket with a cup of tea and read. Or watch movies. Or play games. Or write. Or to just take some time out and relax. If you’re like me, the stillness and quietness is nice for a time, but too much of the nothingness makes my mind wander down deeper and more meaningful paths and I start to do some serious self reflection. I’ve been doing more than my fair share of this lately, but today it seems to be particularly strong. Last night I saw my oldest cousin for the first time in years, and although we are 10 years apart in age, it startled me to see how familiar our situations are at the moment. Let me explain…
Me + my big cousin Jo
We are both public servants and we have both ended up in policy roles. Whereas I focus more on the economic side of things, Jo is working in health and social policy in another country. For over a decade, the government she worked for was a Labor government, and Queensland was in a similar situation. Jo’s leader changed in 2010, and a conservative government is now in power. Over the past two years, Jo has seen some of the best and worst of what happens when an established government loses power and again, Queensland is in a similar situation. As an economics graduate, I understand the benefits of a conservative government, especially for a state that is in such financial trouble as Queensland currently is. But as Jo has been figuring out, and I slowly am too, as you witness more of the changes, you start to question whether the work you are doing is something you want to be a part of. This thought has been troubling me for some time.
Don’t get me wrong, in the current economic climate, I am incredibly lucky to have a stable, permanent, full-time job. Although I am not directly involved with the major changes that are making me unhappy, I am not entirely sure any more that my beliefs line up with the direction my employer is willing to take. There comes a time when everyone reaches the threshold of how much they are willing to go beyond what they believe in or feel morally compelled to do for their job. And once you hit that threshold, or dare to go beyond it, no amount of money is able to justify doing something you deep down do not want to do. I am certainly not saying that I have hit that threshold yet, but I worry every day that I am ever so slightly edging closer to it.
How does this relate to my cousin Jo? She hit her threshold and she has gone back to study. Her first degree was a law degree. She is now studying special effects for movie-making. And not the animated special effects, the sort of special effects that come from wax models and sculptures. It’s a completely niche field, taught at only a handful of universities, and she adores it. To say I was inspired after I spoke to her is an understatement. I’ve always looked up to her – she’s so ambitious and intelligent and I was quite surprised to hear of her disillusionment with her job. But if this phenomenal woman can have the courage to completely abandon a life she thought she wanted and pursue the one she actually wants, I shouldn’t be afraid to do the same thing.
So I’m going to ride this wave of inspiration. I fell into my job accidentally – it most certainly wasn’t my desired path. Truthfully I don’t really know what I want to do, but I know what I don’t want to do and that’s half the hard work done already. The choice between following your head and your heart is often a hard one to make, and if your parents are anything like mine, they’d prefer you play it safe and make the best of what you have. No offence adults, but that’s not going to fly with me. I have a right to be satisfied, fulfilled and, most importantly, happy with what I do and I’d most certainly rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable. What was the point of this post? I don’t really know. Sorry. A bit of a brain dump perhaps? To let other lost souls know that you’re not alone and to reassure you that you’ll find your path eventually. And to let those who have found their calling and love what they are doing know that there is at least one person out there who is envious beyond belief.