Leaving That 9-5 Grind…For Now


When my husband and I move to Chicago in a few weeks I won’t be working just yet.  I’m giving myself the freedom to get acclimated back in Chicago and maybe then see what the job market looks like for ‘ole Elaine.

Like a lot of people my age (freshly minted 30-year-old), I’ve been working since I graduated college eight years ago.  I worked on Capitol Hill for six years and have worked at a foreign policy think tank for the last two years.  Not that I’m some grizzled veteran of the workforce of anything.  Believe me, I know that’s not the case.  I’ve been really fortunate to work in an area that I enjoy and am equally as fortunate to be able to take a little breather for the time being.

This is probably true everywhere, but in Washington especially, so much of your identity is wrapped up in ‘what’ you do and, in many cases, ‘who’ you work for.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes me nervous for my ‘identity,’ going forward.  I can imagine it now…

SCENE: A cocktail party at a swanky Chicago bar

Acquaintance: So, what do you do?

Me: Oh, um, I do a lot of yoga.

Acquaintance: Oh, that sounds lovely.

Me [sensing judgement, where there is none]: I JUST MOVED HERE, OK?!? MOVING IS STRESSFUL AND YOGA HELPS ME RELAX AND I ALSO HAVE A CAT THAT I TAKE CARE OF AND SHE DEPENDS ON ME AND THAT’S A FULL TIME JOB.  Sort of.  I mean, not really.  Anyway, nice talking to you.  Better get home to my cat.

That was fun.  Let’s dig a little deeper now.  I’m equal parts overjoyed and petrified.  Let’s start with overjoyed:

  • I’ll be closer to my family and my in-laws.
  • Chicago is an amazing city!
  • I’m ready for something new, but still familiar (I grew up in Chicago, but haven’t lived there since I was 18)–I have lots to rediscover!  Which brings me to my last point…
  • Without a full-time job, I’ll have loads of time and freedom to rediscover, explore and, get settled.  For the first time in eight years, my time is fully mine and this is a luxury I surely won’t take for granted!

Ok, now onto petrified:

  • What will I do with my time?!?!  Exploring and rediscovering will be fun for about three days and then I’ll be bored to tears!
  • What if I want to start working full-time again, but no one will hire me?!?
  • What even are the part-time jobs out there?!  People tout the benefits of part-time work and a flexible schedule, but what does that really mean?!
  • What if I get super lazy and unmotivated and just hang out with Burrito all day?!

So, yeah, between the made up conversations with well-meaning acquaintances and the constant pro/con list, it’s an interesting time to be in my head.  I know everything will get figured out and it might take some time and some maneuvering.  If anyone has gone through a similar transition, please share your insights!

Goodbye for meow.

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