October 29, 2011

Trying something new: not changing

I recently wrote a post at Band Back Together to launch the monthly prompt: Change.

As with so many aspects of my life, I am in the minority. When it comes to change, I am afraid I like it a little too much.

I've never lasted long at a job, and ultimately am happier with freelance and contract work (saving the poor pay and benefits, or lack thereof). I remember this one job I had when I was in Hong Kong. My manager was a bit of an expat(!), and had the appearance of one who was rather entitled and a rude manner. She was ambitious, but without substance: She had a reputation of stealing the ideas of her perceived and real underlings to promote herself.

I am now certain there existed cultural undercurrents of which I was (as always) oblivious. The British, unlike North Americans apparently have a class structure that the lower classes are as aware of as those who lord above them. (Who knew?!)

Okay. Long story short, and because this could be about any number of jobs I had held previously, I decided I had to get out of there. Fast.

I remember feeling excited, like that feeling you get deep in the pit of your stomach when you meet a new guy and things click, like that. Lightheaded even, when I decided to quit.

I talked to my husband about it breathlessly.

"I'm done. I'm just done with her. I can't stand it anymore. I'm quitting!"

This conversation lasted about a week, which must have seemed like a year to my husband after the first day of the telling. I thought about how great things were going to be, when I quit. I fantasized how I would tell the woman I thought she was a jerk, and how everybody else would be so sad to go, and tell me over drinks how much they would miss my hilariousness.

The realisation came from out of the blue.

Uh oh, I thought. Thinking about quitting feels like being high.

That sinking feeling hit me, deflating me like a balloon a kid has blown up full and tossed into the sky. I knew, as I looked backward at all the jobs I had held before. I loved to quit.

A decade earlier, I'd had this same experience of loving ending things in another part of my life. Love. The only type of relationship I'd had by the time I was 23 lasted not much more than 5 dates. Since I was 12, I would like a guy, pursue him till he caught me, and then see every flaw he had as death. And abruptly I would end things.

The exception to this rule was a guy who loved to run away as much as I did, only he was faster than I. He pulled disappearing acts that kept me on a string over the course of six or eight years. I ended things when I had some insight about how much it hurt to be left, and I told him that disappearing again would be the end, forever.

Shortly after this seismic shift I met the guy I married. I wonder if the limit I placed on my (always ever after referred to as) Plan B also shifted something subconsciously within me. Lucky for me I was newly able to muscle past that panicky feeling that led to ending things before they started.

But this time, with that job, I consciously knew I had to do things differently.

I made a deal with myself. (I do this. Make deals. It works for me.) I told myself that this time I couldn't quit my job till I had another one in place. And it could not be just any old job, it had to be a step up, a step toward building something in terms of my skills.

And, for the first time in my temping Generation Exian life, I stayed, plodded along, continued to hone my new copy editing skills, learned how to put stuffs on the Internet, and looked for something better.

Sure enough, change came reasonably soon after -- within about 6 months. By this time the much-disdained manager had been fired by her own doing but not without some drama with me (which, with what people-skills I have learned in the 15 years hence, I'm happy to report I'd be able to avoid).

This change thing. You know inasmuch as change is hard, for some of us change is far easier than remaining steadfast. Working till a job is done right and well. It may be why there exist middle-class itinerant workers, the we who are wired with short attention spans. But by the same token, if growing up requires some to learn to go with change, it is as essential for others, myself included, to allow some roots to grow, to tether us for enough time to do something right.

It is something to think about, that's for sure.


  1. Oh em gee, I get so excited when there's a new Karen post!
    And this really resonated with me because my bff is a change addict too. It's become second nature and every six months or so she falls into that have to move, have to change cycle.
    I've been counseling her to try staying in one place for a bit and growing some roots. Roots can always be uprooted at a later time, but without a stable platform on which to build her new life/start/chance keeps getting washed away like a sandcastle on the beach.
    I think the idea of changing by not changing is pretty interesting and there's a story in there somewhere...
    Also? I love you.

  2. Aw, Joules, it is so lovely to be loved.

    Having children pretty much has put the kibosh on my need for a change of employ. I mean, what's a girl to do now, right?! And I've owned the same house since '93, so ... there's that.

    I'm with you, though. There is something to be said for growing roots, and something else to be said for practicing something until one gets really really good at it. There's where I'm at right now, seeing as I demand it of my children I need to expect it of myself as well.

    And Joules? I love you too.

  3. I'm similar, I love change. Seriously I'd marry it if I could but that's a bit too much commitment lol It was difficult for me to settle, stay in a job, get married, not move house every year or so. i'm getting there though and finding happiness in sticking around. Change is important but so is stick-ability too.

  4. That's creepy. I get that same high feeling. Well--not anymore. But the last job I quit, I got all jittery and nuts about it as I walked in and said I was walking out. I'd like to think I'm ready to throw down some roots now. We shall see. xoxo

  5. I am simply shaking my head because the last three posts I read spoke to me directly, including this one. I am NOT a change addict, I hate change, but still relate in a different way. So I say for the third time to someone today, THANK YOu for your words.

  6. Sian, I'm glad you know what I'm talking about. And I'm also relieved I've learned to stick around. It makes things much more textured, eh? And somehow easier. Though I wouldn't trade in my earlier days of running for anything. I've had some pretty cool experiences from that time.

    Lisa, glad I creeped you out. I miss that feeling but it isn't the same ever since I realised that the feeling is not "helpful" to my life.

    Seekorirant (Are you Kori?), thanks for your comment. It is neat how we come across information and opportunities as we need them, if we are open to the possibilities. I love love love that I was part of your day today.