Foosters ask for advice about everything, so this shouldn't seem any different.
I've been working in my current job for just under three years. It's with my state government's department of probation and parole. That's right, I'm a probation officer. I'm glad to have had the job during a time of economic hardship, but I'm trying to find a way back into the private sector. The job looks and sounds good on paper, but the reality of the situation is that its time demands are big and its paycheck is quite small. I'm not one of the state government workers who qualifies for food stamps, but the end of the month is always stressful from a financial standpoint. I'd be willing to trade job security (which really doesn't exist the way some people think) for a chance to have higher earnings potential in a more suitable field. Also, the job itself is very thankless and the office environment is a political minefield. My manager and I don't get along very well, though we used to be fine, and I can't pinpoint when or what happened. The main boss likes to keep people uncertain and unbalanced. I've been threatened with termination at least once per month for the past 15 or 16 months, and it's getting old and demoralizing. I know that the job's important and I need to do it well, but being treated like that has my give-a-****e tank running down near the E.
A little background: I graduated from a private high school, and later obtained a BA in Communication from the state university. I've not worked in that field (journalism, PR, advertising) very much. I've spent some time at insurance companies, did a little sales, and now I'm at the State. None of those previous jobs were really all that great either.
It may seem funny, but the catalyst for at least some of this soul searching has been the lady I've been dating since January. She works as a national sales manager for a software company, and is doing quite well. She earns it, working some long hours at times. She never intended to get into that field, having a degree similar to mine, but it's working for her. I think we fell in love in part because of understanding the other's professional challenges. But she once told me that I was so smart it was scary, and was like, "why are you letting yourself struggle working for the State, when you could be doing just about anything?" To this day, my parents still tell me I'm smart and can do anything, but it means something else when it comes from someone who's not "obligated" to say it. Between them, it's planted a seed of sorts. It has me wondering what I really want to do. A friend who's known me about 20 years pretty well said to figure out what I want to do and go for it.
When my friend asked me what I really wanted to do, I reminded him of how I always liked working on cars, how some cars were like a passion of mine. There have been other times that I've thought about pursuing that further and making a career out of it, but also I wonder if it's better left a hobby. If I make a mistake on my own car, it's only going to effect me, and no boss is going to be barking about how the book only allows XX hours for this job or that. But mechanics can clean up pretty well money-wise if they're working in the right shop. If I could really make a leap, I would love to be a freelance automotive journalist. It's a competitive field where a good many of the participants seem to have degrees in automotive engineering. But P.J. O'Rourke didn't, and he seems to have done just fine.
The hardest part about this is that whole "what do you *want* to do" thing. For so long, I've pretty well done what I had to do, i.e. need a job and need it now. It's like flying by the seat of my pants, and it's not working anymore and it didn't work all that well to begin with. It feels like alot more is at stake now. I'm older, own a home, care for my pets, have some bills to pay... Whatever choice I make now kinda needs to be the right one. I realize that all jobs/careers have good and bad days, but there has got to be more to life than what I'm dealing with right now, and if change is going to happen, I'm going to have to make it happen.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.