Hello, it’s me, coming to you hot off the panic press.
I posted previously about my job at Petco, how much I enjoyed it and how sad I was to be leaving. What I didn’t mention is that I wasn’t laid off, I was actually given the choice to transfer to one of a few other locations in the general area. I chose what I thought would be the best location based on a number of factors, but all the while in the back of my mind I was planning to start looking for a new job entirely—mostly because my friends and I couldn’t all be transferred to the same store so I knew we would be split up and stop seeing each other on the daily. Goodbye, fun.
I also have New Kid Social Anxiety; there are few things I enjoy less than having to enter a brand new environment where everyone already knows each other, I’m the odd one out, and I don’t really have any idea what to expect. I can do it, but it fills me with dread every time.
So there I was, the day before I was to start at the new location, absolutely wigging out. I applied to 6 or 7 different jobs out of sheer terror at the prospect that I might hate this place and everyone in it and need to get out ASAP.
But… that’s not what ended up happening. It was a little bit awkward at first because of course I have to navigate learning how to interact with a whole new set of people, but they are all really nice and friendly, and the store itself is chill as heck. My old store was on a bus line in a central plaza so it was always busy and we were always bracing for the next insane thing that would happen—kids throwing Betta fish cups or stealing turtles, people doing drugs in the bathroom, screaming fights, etc. This new store, however, is in its own little spot in a really nice (dare I say bougie) area so overall the guests are pretty pleasant.
While I was realizing that I could actually be quite content with the transfer, I started getting interviews with a couple of the jobs I applied for. I was excited at first, but that excitement quickly turned into another full-blown freakout at the prospect of having to accept potential offers, and now I’m going to dive into why.
Over the past few years I have come to understand that I am just not a traditional career-oriented person. I went to college so that I could have a career, I started down the career path I thought I wanted, that path swerved off into left field, and I have been surprisingly happy ever since. My work/life balance is basically ideal—I work 4 days a week (and only ever work 2 in a row), the work I do doesn’t stress me out and I don’t have to think hard about it, plus I get to spend a decent chunk of time goofing off and playing with animals. All of this is perfect for me because I view work as a means to live my life, and that’s about it. I’m not super ambitious, I don’t really care about moving up; I just want to be comfortable enough to afford my life and enjoy my free time. The more free time I have, the more I can work on the one thing I feel passionate about, which is writing.
That said, I also feel intense mental, societal, mostly self-inflicted pressure to have and want a job that is, for lack of a better term, real. In my mind, and the minds of others (as I imagine it at least), working in retail isn’t real and it’s not what you aim to do when you’re almost 30 if you’re a successful human. 9-5 desk jobs with paid holidays and weekends off are real and respectable and what I should be looking for. So why does the thought of moving into such a sensible job send me spiraling? I feel like there is something fundamentally wrong with me for not leaping at the opportunity, and in fact becoming increasingly more anxious about it. I would be stupid not to accept another offer that paid more, right?
Upon doing some reflecting and discussing, I’ve come to the conclusion that basically my whole life and a huge chunk of my decisions (maybe all of them, who knows) are a result of me comparing myself to other people and being ultimately concerned what everyone else thinks of me. I can’t simply ask myself “what do I want?” because the answering voice always counters “what does everyone expect of me? what looks the best on the outside? what will keep people from judging me?”
I need to learn how to own my life. I need to start making decisions because I want to and because they make me happy, not because I’m worried about my image or how others will react. I have no idea how to go about doing this every day, and I think the comparisons and the fear will probably never go away. But even without any of the answers, I need to try.
I need to admit that I like my retail job. I like being active. I like interacting with new and interesting people all the time. I like being able to shower and go to work in a hoodie with my hair wet because it doesn’t really matter what I look like. I like playing with the birds and cuddling the adoption kitties when we’re slow. I like knowing what to do and knowing I can do it. I like leaving work completely at work. I like my 4-day week that’s broken up in such a way that I never get burnt out. I like the special brand of camaraderie that you can only find in pet retail. I like the sheer variety in my days. I like that I have enough time to spend with all of my friends, and enough time to work on hobbies and read and write.
I don’t know if I’m ready to let all of that go.
The good news is, I’m the only one pushing myself to do so. Despite all my (at times overwhelming) feelings, there is no immediate rush to jump into something else. I can take my time, feel out whether I will continue to enjoy my current spot over the next few months, and go from there. If I’m still enjoying it, I can even stay. As a very wise someone said to me: “doing what makes you content isn’t wrong or not a real job. That’s just jealous people who work too many hours not petting cats talking.”
So I’m here now, telling myself it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because it’s my life. Nooo, of course I don’t believe it, it’s never that easy. But I’m saying it anyway in hopes that maybe one day it’ll stick. A girl can dream, right?
If you made it to the end here, thanks for reading. I wish you the best in all of your big life decisions and hope that you do you.
Until the next crisis ✌️
Do what you love.
Life is too short not to.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else wants you to do or expects you to do. If someone is telling you that, then he/she should be taking care to live his/her own life correctly rather than attempting to live someone else’s (yours). We are each given one life to live. You need to live yours and be the wonderful person who is inside you. Make your decisions and move forward. Those pets love and need you. You have a gift for them.
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