In mid-December I chose to leave my job at the company I had worked for for nearly 24 years. So I am currently unemployed and looking for work. In the meantime, I am thrilled to be working as a lead advocate for Heroes in Recovery; continuing my role as a National Parent Partner with The Partnership at Drugfree.org; and keeping on with my personal mission to help break the stigma associated with addiction and mental illness.
But the fact remains that I need a job. I need to keep a roof over my family's head, put food on the table, and be able to support my family. College is on the horizon for my younger son. (And maybe for my older son, too.) So a steady income and, ideally, medical benefits would be a great thing. I had those things at my old job, but I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and explore other avenues.
You see, at this stage of my life I want a job that I am truly passionate about. After spending a lot of years working just to get a paycheck, I think I owe it to myself to follow my heart now. As the poet Anaïs Nin wrote: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." I'm 52-years-old and I want out of that tight bud. I'm ready to blossom.
Personal satisfaction now has way more importance to me than money. Yes, I know I said earlier that a steady income would be a great thing. But I wouldn't care one bit if that income was less than I was making before, even if it meant having to move and getting rid of some possessions.
Educating people about addiction and depression, helping others whose lives are touched by those diseases, and breaking down barriers; these are the things that drive me today. This is my passion in life. I love doing it and I get great satisfaction from it. It's what gets me up in the morning and makes me feel like I'm making a difference.
In a perfect world, I would love to find a job that paid me to advocate for people who are affected by addiction/depression, help them get proper treatment, and the like. Unfortunately, my education is not in that field. So getting that "dream job" is far from a sure thing. It's probably even an unlikely thing. But I have faith and will keep searching for that proverbial needle in a haystack: a job I truly love.
Now, what happens if that dream job never materializes? Well, unless I choose to pursue my wife's dream of us living in a yurt on a big chunk of land somewhere--intriguing, yes, but probably not very practical--I will eventually have to get some kind of job. In fact, I've already applied for jobs at our local Trader Joe's and Costco. Not exactly the dream job, but being in both of those stores makes me happy. I'd like to think that working for either of them wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Oh, geez. I almost forgot the main reason for this post. The "It's Who I Am" part.
Since leaving my job in December, I've updated my LinkedIn page a few times. And, when doing so, I wondered if I should include my advocacy work in my LinkedIn profile. Why did I think twice about that? Because someone I worked with once told me that I should keep my son's addiction and my work in that area "separate" from my day job. They said that mentioning it would make a lot of people "uncomfortable" and that those people may look at me "differently."
When I heard that, I was shocked. But I guess it was just the stigma rearing its ugly head again. The cruel truth is that addiction does make a lot of people uncomfortable.
Regardless, I choose to let it all hang out. So on my LinkedIn page, you'll see my work related to addiction listed for all the world to see. You'll even see my blog posts about addiction and depression showing up in my status updates. Crazy, I know. But keeping quiet about something so incredibly important to me would go against everything I believe in. I would be contributing to the same stigma I'm working so hard to break.
If any prospective employers look at my LinkedIn profile and get scared off by my "stuff," so be it. It's who I am. Take it or leave it.
"Faith is the muscle you use when you decide to blast outside of your comfort zone and transform your life into something that's practically unrecognizable to you in your present reality. Faith smothers your fear of the unknown. Faith allows you to take risks. Faith is the stuff of 'leap and the net will appear.'" --Jen Sincero, from her book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life