When Confusion Steals the Map

Last night I was standing around The Grill (capitalized to reflect its place of honor) when a friend started talking to me about her job.  I think she’s confused because she thought that this job would be a step in the “right direction”, but the “right direction” feels like u-turn.  I hate when this happens.  Because it means reality missed the mark on expectations.  And that can be a tough blow, particularly with realistic expectations.

I didn’t give a thoughtful response last night.  It’s a hard topic and I have a difficult time verbalizing what is easier for me to write.  So now everyone will get the benefit of hearing what I should have said:

I understand.  I’ve been there.  You get up and go to a job and think, “This isn’t so bad, but it’s not at all what I want to be doing.  And why doesn’t it feel any better than my last gig?  I didn’t want to do that either, but did I make a mistake by making a change?”  Those are very sobering questions.  The difficult part, for me, is thinking that even if I was given all the options in the world, I couldn’t tell you which thing I’d want to do most.  With that in mind, knowing that I can’t even articulate what it is I want to do, I feel like I should just be grateful to have a job.  But I can’t even be grateful because it’s so hard to be grateful when I’m void of any eagerness or enthusiasm. 

And then I would have said (because this is what I do after I may have weirded out someone by sharing way too many of my own thoughts), “I mean, maybe that’s not you at all.  Maybe that’s just me, but what I’m trying to express is that I’ve been there…”

But we’ll assume that she gave me an indication that I could continue.  I would have followed with:

And this is the part that you may not want me to say because it’s the part that sucks if I’m you.  (And I’ve been you.)  But you may need to stick it out for a little while.  It’s not because I care if you leave this job.  And it’s not because I don’t understand the enormity of the feeling that This Is Not Working, but because, in my experience, the best decisions are not made during confusion.

I found this quote a number of years ago and kept it.  I’m not sure who said it because I didn’t attribute it (which is totally unlike me and my geeky ways), but I’ve thought about it’s concept a lot in the past few years:

When you don’t know what to do, my best advice is to do nothing until clarity comes.  Getting still, being able to hear your own voice and not the voices of the world, quickens clarity.  Once you decide what you want, you make a commitment to that decision.”

I think that it is fair to say that I still don’t have a firm grasp on what I want, but I think that the first part is completely true.  I’m not advocating that folks stay in a miserable job for years on end, but I do think that something fruitful develops when I slow long enough to consider my motivation for change.




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4 responses to “When Confusion Steals the Map

  1. Lindsey

    According to angryfatgirlz.blogspot.com

    Oprah wrote a fascinating column titled “What I Know For Sure: How to Get Unstuck and Make Decisions” in the Sept. 2005 issue of Oprah magazine. In it she says:
    When you don’t know what to do, my best advice is to do nothing until clarity comes. Getting still, being able to hear your own voice and not the voices of the world, quickens clarity. Once you decide what you want, you make a commitment to that decision.

    • emcritt

      We’ll give credit to Oprah then…I know you and Joe wouldn’t be shocked! Thanks for your researching!

  2. I couldn’t agree more with this post. Its a sinking feeling when a new job’s excitement swings into an “oops, how long should I put in before I uproot again?” Agreeing with yourself that you’ll get out of it, but not under the same frame of mind that got you there, is good advice. And, very fatherly, I’ll say that I’m sure there is something to be learned by it. (pounding fists on the desk helps read that last sentence.)

    • emcritt

      Hi, I’m glad the post resonated. It was a big moment when I looked around at a situation as it was and recognized that even though I wasn’t where I wanted to be, rolling up the carpet probably wasn’t the best decision. I knew when it was REALLY time to pack it in. I knew it by the conviction and contentment I felt when I took the steps to tell the people affected, “Things are about to change.” Nothing that they could have said in opposition to my decision would have detered me. Thanks for reading and being a first time commenter!

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