It hit me a few days ago. Not out of the blue. It was something I'd thought about before. I've thought about a lot actually...for years. But this time it was different, considering where it came from.
I was sitting on the couch. Curtains drawn, 3D glasses perched on my nose, dodging oncoming traffic as I played Cars 2 with Xavier, my seven-year-old Mini-Me. After the race, seemingly out of the blue, he says "So, like, what do you want to do when you grow up".
I should probably mention here that, despite what that question leads you to believe, I am in my mid-30's and I am not unemployed. Moving on.
After chuckling to myself at what would have been a perfectly veiled insult if it hadn't been so sincere, I said "Well, if I could, I would quit my job and just do design. But I don't know if I can do that." He looks at me, screws up his nose and says "Why can't you?"
Why can't I?
I had no valid answer at the time so I just shrugged and gave some dismissive response like "it's complicated" and we started another race. But the question stuck with me. Why can't I? And the more I thought about it, the clearer the answer became. It's just fear.
For the past 7 years I've been working in varying roles within state government. The pay is good, the hours are good and the work conditions (when I compare them to many other places I could be working) are comfortable. But despite that, the truth is I'm absolutely miserable every day, from the time my alarm rings to the time I clock out. And I feel bad saying that, considering the backbreaking work some of my friends do without complaining. It makes me sound lazy. But it's not that I'm lazy. It's just that I feel like the work I do serves no real purpose.
Last year, Jim Carrey gave the commencement speech for the 2014 graduating class at Maharishi University of Management. If you have a few minutes, follow the link. It's worth watching. But there was one quote from that speech that really stood out to me. He said: "you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."
So why can't I? If I'm honest with myself, I actually can. It's just that the transition and conquering that fear is going to take a while. But learning the curve, getting from where I am now to where I want to be, should be interesting. Here's hoping it makes for a decent read as well.