Thursday, March 6, 2014

Finding Myself Again

I find myself at a crossroads.  I love being a fitness instructor and all of the things that come along with it.  I am more excited about a new workout outfit than I am about a new dress.  I love interacting with people and hearing their stories.  I love encouraging them to meet their goals and consoling them when things don't go their way.  My fitness classes are my social life.  We laugh, we talk, we dance, we sweat and then we go back to our regular lives.  Most of my week is full of practice and planning for my classes so that even when I'm not teaching most of my energy goes to fitness.   

My real job brings me very little joy.  I still like the idea of what I do but what I actually do at this point is far away from where I started.  As an engineer I solve problems.  I look at data and try to come up with solutions to those problems.  I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I solve a problem.  I enjoy the praise that I get from others when I solve a problem that has existed for year.  But after 15 years I am less of an engineer and more of a manager.  The problem with being good at your job is that you get promoted out of doing those tasks that you enjoy.  Most of the problems that I deal with now are related to people and not case studies.  On a good week, half of my time is spent being a real engineer.  

After 15 years I am burnt out.  I am at the point where I'm going to be promoted to upper management (which would equal no time being a real engineer) or I need to change careers.  If I was willing to work for a state or local agency I would have more chances to be an engineer until my retirement.  But, in doing this, I would give up the salary and the freedom that I have become so accustomed too.  Realistically, I could never afford to be a fitness instructor if I didn't have my engineering salary to pay for all my trips and certifications.  And I definitely wouldn't have the time to teach as often as I do if I had a 9-5 office job vs. a flex schedule.

So how to I find balance between a job that often feels like it is sucking the life out of me and a job that feeds my soul.  My life as an engineer is solitary and lonely but I wouldn't be able to afford my house, my car, anything without it.  My life as a fitness instructor is amazing.  I feel like a rock star. I can be myself and express myself with wild clothes and over the top hair styles.  When I go to business meetings I dress conservatively and keep to myself.  I have tons of great clothes in my closet but little opportunity to actually where them. 

I never thought I would say this but sometimes I miss working in an office.  I miss the business lunches and the water cooler conversations.  The happy hours and the office gossip.  The Christmas parties and summer picnics.  Because as much as I hated the high school clique-i-ness that often came out of those situations, it was a social life.  I always had plans for the weekend.  I carefully selected my clothes for work and other events because I cared about what people thought of me and I would be seen by a lot of people. 

Sometimes I wear my pajamas all day or until I head to the gym.  When I have meetings I put on nice clothes but usually that's just for a few hours and then its back to the sweats.  I try to force myself to get dressed up once a week and go to the office and go out to lunch but that almost makes it even lonelier.  I sit in my office by myself, I go out to lunch by myself and then I ask myself why I wasted the time getting dressed when no one notices me anyway. 

Of course my work friends were acquaintances and not lifetime friends.  They didn't really know me. It was all surface stuff but that's really what I'm missing.  A social life. Something to fill the gaps between fitness classes and sitting at my desk alone.  I recognize that the me from my fitness classes isn't the real me either. It is the other extreme of my personality, the loud, outgoing party girl.  But living at these two extremes and nothing in between leaves me feeling lost and lonely more often than I'd like.      

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