Career BlissThe greatest joy in writing for Queercents is when I get a comment that says I’ve inspired someone — that I’ve given someone strength to follow their passion in life. I live for those comments as much as I live to see the beaming smile on my partner’s face first thing when I wake up in the morning.

Now that I’m a full-time student again, there are few thoughts about my finances that qualify as stirring. I’m learning to be quite resourceful on a tight budget, but I have much more important things to share with you than the things I do to shave $20 here and there from my expenses.

I’ve somehow overcome a lifetime of doubt and insecurity about what I truly want from life. I’m finally making a rewarding career happen, and if I can be any part in helping you to do it too, well… awesome!

I’ve decided to start a new series called The Bliss Chronicles because I think I’m onto something. Since I’ve been growing and learning immensely by following a career path that’s more meaningful to me, I figured that I should chronicle the ups and downs of the process to offer encouragement to those of you who also want to take the first step in achieving career bliss.

And for those of you already navigating the sometimes-frightening waters of pursuing your dream, I hope my weekly reflections will not only help you stay afloat, but embolden you more.

I’m not a career expert. I’m just a guy who has wanted to be a writer ever since I grasped the concept of it as a kid, which I remember I described as, “I want to make books too.” (That sounds sweet, but do take note that I also got in trouble for taking my statement too literally by tearing up books and assembling them the way I wanted to see them.)

Now while I love reading tips from career experts, occasionally I find that their advice slams upon my fledging hopes like a 4,000-ton anvil. Career experts are undoubtedly successful people. They’ve reached their destination, learned to excel even further, and they’ve become wiser professionals in the process.

Yet somehow, their words of advice don’t always connect with me. Something is missing.

The journey towards believing you are entitled to a blissful career is in my opinion far longer and more arduous than 1) reaching out to the people who can help you and 2) proving yourself to be capable in the field. I think many career experts miss this point.

That’s where I come in with this series. My experience has been that I never believed I could actually be a writer. I was always focused on barriers to entry such as, “I don’t know the right people,” or “I don’t think I have the right training,” or “You have to spend years working your way up the food chain to do what I want, and I can’t afford that.”

And so what would end up happening? I accepted any and all jobs that would hire me, they were always unrelated to writing, and they were always uninteresting, unchallenging and an incredible drain of my resources. I was only making excuses, pointing blame, and living in fear. That was my career.

The problem was that I didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted to do with writing. I had written plays, short stories, poems, countless essays, and I often jotted down ideas and characters for novels. All I knew was that I wanted to be creative and write things, but I didn’t know where or how I could get paid for it, until recently.

To borrow a line from my journalism instructor, in order to create a clear vision of what to do with writing, I found that I must “report the hell out of it.”

What does “report the hell out of it” mean?

That means you need to:
– Be extremely observant, notice everything and record your ideas
– Talk to people to further develop your ideas
– Collect as many facts of as possible from credible sources
– Dig deeper into the facts the more you learn
– Keep asking yourself questions, and focus those questions as you go along
– Direct your questions to as many people as possible, from experts, to lay people
– Be persistent in getting people to respond to you
– Organize your facts
– Clarify anything that doesn’t make sense
– Fill in all the gaps in your information
– Put your information together in a logical order and make sense out of it

In other words, you have to do a lot of work to uncover the truth about your own career interests. But unlike journalism, you don’t really have a deadline.

I’m constantly absorbing information about the things I can do with writing. The facts I gathered and the people I turned to for advice helped me to understand that I should focus my efforts in multimedia. That’s what I’m studying in school now, and I’m evaluating what’s the best job for me the more I learn about the field.

Oddly enough, I had some indication that multimedia was the right path for me over eight years ago when I engaged in the exercises in the career guide What Color is Your Parachute?

My top three career interests were writing, film and music. I knew so little about the diversity of career paths in those fields (and their intermingling) that I dismissed the notion that I could be qualified for any of them with my measly psychology degree. Because I didn’t bother to investigate more, I spent the next seven years clumsily jumping between jobs while trying to find some way to develop my creativity after work hours. That’s seven years to come back full circle!

So here’s my lesson: You’re not going to have answers all at once. You may have a slight idea of what may be a rewarding path for you, but don’t get discouraged if it’s not entirely clear. Pay attention to the things that matter to you most, gather some facts about what kind of work you can do with it, and report the hell out of that line of work.

You may find that you’ll have to report the hell out of several types of jobs, but so what? Would you rather keep trudging through a job you hate, or would you rather find a way out of it? The more you learn, the clearer the picture becomes of your ideal job, and you’ll find that maybe you’re a better fit for the field than you previously thought. Soon enough you’ll begin taking steps in the right direction because you believe that you can eventually meet requirements for that dream job.

Stay tuned for next week’s topic: what taking steps in the right direction is actually like.