I have long viewed work as something one does in order to afford to do what one enjoys. A job is a job, and it is a rare few who are able to be paid to do what they are passionate about.
And that is if you are lucky enough to actually know what it is you are passionate about. In a perfect world, I would have found a way to get paid to shop and organize closets, because those are some of the few things I could do all the time without falling into a rut. I love the thrill of finding the perfect item, the best bargain, or the random piece to add to a collection. I look to my little brother, a kid who knew he wanted to be a performer since he was quite young, as a prime example of someone who was so passionate about what he wanted to do that he would sacrifice anything to fulfill his dream. I had never felt that way about anything until recently.
A few years ago, I was looking for a place to donate some clothing. I don’t do the Salvation Army, so I was hunting around for a local organization that might be able to use them. I came across a place that, at the top of it’s “How Can You Help” page asked, “Do you like to organize closets?” Why yes, yes I do. I reorganize my closet for fun. I just spent two days redoing one of my girlfriend’s closets because she is hopeless when it comes to that sort of thing. Yes, I realize this is not “normal,” but it is what it is. I contacted them, and set up a meeting with the volunteer coordinator.
I met with her a few weeks later, and she told me more about the organization. Since I was working full-time, certain volunteer opportunities were not feasible for me, but the agency had many more options I was interested in. About a week later, she called and asked if I would be interested in leading up the annual walk-a-thon for the Holiday Giving Program, and I jumped at the chance. I branched out and went through the training to become a Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence advocate. I started working at their confidential domestic violence shelter. I kept on with Holiday Giving, running the gift drives and working in the gift collection warehouse. I decorated 7 family therapy rooms for our new offices. I was spending most of my spare time working with them, and while I should have been exhausted, I was invigorated. I wanted more.
I became close to many people in the agency, and when a position opened up that seemed like a perfect fit for me, a number of people called to tell me about it. I submitted my resume, interviewed, and got the job. After 11 years with the same company, I am finally jumping ship from comfort into challenge. I am a little nervous — I won’t lie. I have spent most of my adult life at my old job, spent more time with the people there than with my husband, and change is scary. But I finally feel like my body will be where my heart is. I have finally found my passion, found what drives and energizes me, and I will be contributing to an organization that I feel incredibly strongly about.
I feel incredibly lucky these days. Lucky that I am in a financial position that allows me to take a pretty substantial pay cut in order to follow my heart. Lucky that I have a support system of family and friends that back me 100%. Lucky that, after feeling like a bit of a failure every single day as I drove into a job that was just that, a job, that I will finally feel excited to get to work. Lucky that I will have the chance to help people, and maybe, hopefully, make some people’s lives a little bit easier, a little more hopeful, and a little less painful. Lucky that I have finally found my passion.