I remember reaching a point a few years ago when I truly considered switching careers to become a parking garage attendant. I was burnt out, working 65-70 hours a week. When I wasn’t working, I was so tired that I had no energy to see friends. I would drive to the office in DC a few times a week and I’d watch the garage parking attendant scurry around to move and park cars. I was envious. I’m a good driver. I could do that job. It wouldn’t pay near what I was making at the time, but I liked the idea of leaving a job at the end of the day and truly “being done.” I wouldn’t have had to think about how to solve a complex problem, or sell a project to a potential client, or manage a team that continuously requested feedback on their work (as in, every hour). I wasn’t worried about the drop in salary; I’m a big believer that, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”
In the past few days, I’ve engaged in big philosophical conversations with close friends, somewhat centered on, “Why did we take the path we did?” The conversations took place with men and women in their ‘40s and ‘50s, all of whom have similar traits as me: we are single and professionally successful, although none of us have a “traditional career.” We push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. One is about to publish an autobiography. One has a mild fear of water and is going on a rafting trip at the end of the month. We all travel. We all expose ourselves to new experiences (some of which are planned and others we happily stumble upon accidentally).
We’ve all recently questioned our decisions. Wouldn’t it have been easier to go the “normal” route? Wouldn’t it raise less questions among some of our family and friends if we had settled down and had families and supported ourselves with “normal,” less–taxing careers? If we had slightly less bold ambitions – or no aspirations – would we notice? Would we care? Would anything feel like it was missing?
How long would I have lasted as a parking garage attendant before I got restless?
Probably not very long. For whatever reason, it (i.e., lack of ambition, getting outside of our comfort zone, settling for the status quo) is not in our DNA. And mostly – we’re okay with that. People are different and that is what makes our world such a cool and interesting place. And yet, there are times when I yearn for a simple, more traditional life – even if only for a few days or weeks. I’d like to try it on and see how it fits. To see if I could settle, or how long I would last. I guess, in some ways, it would be a new challenge for me, outside of my comfort zone. Now it sounds like a challenge! Something to think about, perhaps.