I've hesitated writing this post, eventhough I know a very small amount of people will actually read it. But I thought it was important to put it out there, because I feel like I'm not the only person who has been feeling this way for a long time.
I am mentally burnt out.
It's been building up for years and I've tried my best to tough it out as long as I could by slogging myself into my work, tried to find myself through self-help books, read numerous articles online, have somewhat breached the topic with my spouse, but not sure he really gets it.
I've had this kind of career crisis before 5 years ago, all it generated was an emotional meltdown in front of my mum with a dream of a one year sabbatical to figure things out. Instead I moved to LA, but it served more as distraction/escape route from my problems rather than the solution. You could say LA was my sabbatical, but I think I would've had the same issue to face regardless.
I've been shedding and moving away from normal expectations from what an ideal Millennial should have (high paying job, getting married, buying a house, investing, having babies, lots of friends, and a large following on social media). I've so far failed to achieve all of those things except for getting married, and that wasn't even my list of priorities to have in my life. But after reading a few books, why should I even compare myself to other people's salaries, houses and babies? It does nothing for me except feel bad about myself. If there has been one thing that I was determined to achieve in my 30s, was to give less shit about what was expected of me and what other people should perceive of me. My whole life, I've tried to avert myself from a racial stereotype, I didn't realize that I also needed to avert from stereotypical life goals as well.
So I'm back to the same issue about what to do with my life. I'm clearly not a career person, and I've come to a point where perhaps office life is not for me. I've worked 10 years in an office making decent money, but nowhere near happy as I would like to be. I have no interest in climbing the corporate ladder and I'm tired of not having the freedom to take off when I choose. Unfortunately my experience in working in a non-office job can only be traced back to a 3 year stint as a hostess for my uncle's high end sushi restaurant. That was also ok money, lots of drama, and late night shifts, but at least I could go on vacation whenever I wanted (it was easy to find someone who would cover my coveted weekend shifts). It would work for 20-somethings (as I was), not sure if I would enjoy a job like that now that I'm older, nor would make enough to sustain my expenses.
It's on my bucket list to leave a cushiony office job to go freelance or a non-office job. A part of me has yet to taste the trials of going freelance, but I think the time has come for me to take this leap. It's also been nice to do the background acting gig, it's been such a great stress reliever where I didn't have to think too hard and I was still earning a paycheck. I really want take Laura and Eric's advice in trying to do background gigs, but I'm not a trained actor nor have I earned enough days to be part of the union, but it's desperately tempting every time I go on set. It's like I'm so close yet so far (6 days to ACTRA Extra) to get decent pay on this thing. So maybe I should go for it. Heck, why not? Also, it's a good way to meet new people regularly, eventhough my socializing skills aren't the best, but at least people on set are game to make new friends. Plus, it's different. Laura put it succinctly that she loved being creative and that when she worked in finance for a non-profit (!), it was not the worth the mental stress.
And this is the mental burnout I'm talking about. We are not our parents' generation that we should just put our heads down and churn through the daily grind. WHY? As a married, childless, skilled worker, still relative young, I have lots of stuff going for me, so why waste it on the daily grind? I can't. I won't. I refuse to waste my time further. This should never mean that I "deserve" better. That is entitlement and I am well aware how entitled my generation feels about a lot of things. I'm cognizant that I've been given the best chance to succeed in life and eventhough I've stumbled in finding happiness, I will never ever for a single moment think that I should deserve anything without putting my blood, sweat and tears for it. I am unworthy. I've always felt unworthy, no matter what came through my door - stroke of luck on getting married, having a great family, a rare few good friends, a good job, great co-workers, etc. In fact, I've always felt the opposite of "deserving", I often feel that I am undeserving of my good luck. Call it humility if you will, but I take nothing for granted. I know the risks I take could very well land me in the pits, but somehow I've been unafraid of those kinds of possible results mainly because I know I won't let myself sink that low. So the chances of me becoming homeless, penniless or a drug addict are pretty slim. Jobless, maybe, I've erred in joblessness for 2 months in LA, and quite frankly I was bored stiff, so I found a job to relieve my boredom, not necessarily because I needed the cash.
So, I was thinking of taking a career break to prioritize myself, I have enough to last me a couple of months. But I need a serious recharge, find my creative center and pull away from the grind. I'm not even talking about a vacation, that costs too much money, and I want to be close to home anyway. I just don't want to have responsibilities or get stressed in getting work emails and never be fully "off." Because even on weekends, I'm still "on". Working from home, still "on". Now that I've shed my anxieties over social media, I don't post as much even on Instagram anymore, so I don't need to put on a pony show online either. I don't want my life to be about making money and more money to save for this and that, because I really don't care about that. I want to earn enough to have a decent living, have a low stress job, and have time to take a long weekend to do something. I feel like that background acting thing seems to be ticking off the right boxes, except for the uneven schedule, but I find that I don't mind that at all finally. So who knows.
Change is about to come.