Choices and Happiness

November 27, 2014
I recently got a full-time job after months of searching. This job was completely unrelated to anything I've ever done or any work/volunteer experience I have, and I knew it wouldn't make me happy, but I took it anyway. The only reason I got it in the first place was because of a friend who had a connection there. I've been working part-time for the past few months in jobs that I love (marking for university courses and teaching children's classes at an art gallery) and I have been truly happy for the first time in years.

There was a lot of pressure to find a full-time job, no matter what it was, and I accepted that it was what I needed to do. I realize that taking the first job that was offered was a bad decision. It was in the financial sector and I have an education in social science. My work experience has been largely to do with editing written work and teaching. I went to training and was instantly overwhelmed both by how sad it made me, and knowing that I'd have to fake every day at this job. I've had no energy this past week and even now I'm struggling to lift my hands to type this. After talking to the boss at this job and explaining how I was doing, I had to resign. For obvious reasons I can't specify the organization, but it seems like a good place to work for people who are interested in finance.

I recently dropped out of grad school after accepting that it was not what I wanted. I excelled in my undergraduate degree, had top marks, marked all of the introductory classes, and had all the jobs associated with the degree. I also volunteered like crazy (on top of going to school full-time and working 30-40 hours a week). The only option seemed to be grad school. I moved to a different city for it, despite having several anxiety attacks about it. I talk more about my depression and anxiety here. I feel like this post is making me sound like a huge failure who's turned down a lot of options, but there it is.

Once I got there and talked extensively to my partner about it, I understood that it would be a terrible decision for me. Again, there was a lot of pressure to do it and I am a people-pleaser. I felt terrible at first out of guilt, but it was once of the best decisions I've ever made. I know I would have been unhappy. I loved doing my undergraduate degree, but I think that was largely because I was able to study multiple fields and have a really strong community base at the same time. It wasn't just anthropology - I also took a pile of classes in Indigenous studies, gender studies, some history, some english, even a physics class that was really interesting. Indigenous studies in particular resulted in a lot of friendships and a much better understanding of the place I live, and the people who were here first.

My idea after leaving grad school was to work on this blog and other things that I love, and eventually perhaps be able to make a career out of it. There are a few things I'm passionate about:

1. Creating healthy, vegetarian food, especially making healthy "sweets".
2. Local food, particularly growing food locally. There are a lot of issues with the food systems in Canada that I may discuss in a later post.
3. Pottery and soapmaking.
4. Writing, writing, writing. I have several story ideas, especially some for children, that I'd love to work on in addition to this blog.

Essentially, I want to do work that allowed me to express some creativity. Obviously I haven't reached that point yet, but my goal is to get there. I'm planning on starting to sell some of my handmade (vegan!) soaps online soon, so if there's any interest, please let me know in the comments.

I am lucky to have savings and the ability to work less hours while I build a future where I can be happy. I'm aware that most people I know will think I'm insane for doing this (which, as a person with mental illness, I always find kind of funny). I need to embrace the things that make me happy. I am so incredibly lucky to have such a supportive partner, Graham, who constantly tells me that happiness is the most important thing. He has seen me at my lowest and is always understanding and kind. He's the best. He's the only person I've told about this decision so far.

I am scared of the fallout this will result in, but I think, I know, that it will be worth it. I just turned 23. I don't want to waste these years in anxiety and depression the same way I wasted my teens. I'm both really scared and happy. Or I will be happy once I get some energy back. A week of severe anxiety is hard on the body. I know that this isn't an option for most people, but I want to take this risk. I'll keep you posted. I'll still be posting weekly recipes, but I'm also planning on starting to write posts with soap recipes, other natural beauty items, and things I'm interested in (food!), so look for more in the near future.
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