photo by York Wilson Photography

Friday, June 12, 2009


The Next Frontier

Today was my last day at my full time job. I chose to quit; I wasn't laid off. I decided to leave my position working as an administrative assistant for a large public university for many reasons, but mostly because my schedule was absolutely eating me alive.
Ever since I graduated from college two years ago I have been struggling to adjust to life as a full-time office worker. I have refused to give up the things I love in my life- namely dance, sleeping, and spending time with my husband. Not cutting back on my dance activities has left me with very little free time. I have two formal troupe practices per week, I teach a class on Monday evenings, and I teach practically all day every weekend on Saturdays. As I'm also unwilling to cut back on my rigorous 8-hour-per-night sleep regimen, this leaves me with not a whole lot of time or energy to do things like eat, clean, bathe, cope with life, or other such things like that-- let alone to spend time developing new skills or learning new stuff.
Although I imagine other people may have found my schedule to be perfectly reasonable and nothing to complain about, I spent two years trying my best to make it work to no avail. I know it's not just my personality. I'm not an invalid, and I don't consider myself to be impaired or disabled, but I do have a chronic health condition- Fibromyalgia Syndrome. I cope with my FMS quite well, I think, but it still affects me, and it limits my ability to endure things like working 6 days a week every week and generally not ever having any downtime.
What I'm looking at now is getting my income from two places: tutoring ESL (which I did during college as well, actually), and teaching bellydance classes. I also hope to start living a hardcore frugal lifestyle to make up for lost income. Of course, my husband also has a job.
It's funny. Less than three years ago I thought (and said, often at length) that I would never want to make bellydance my job, and that I would never want to depend on someone else's income to live. Then again, that was before I underwent a spectacularly humbling job search and then actually entered the workforce, first working a really awful temp job for about a month and then finding a job at the university.
While my university job was relatively stable and certainly tolerable, I had no room for advancement (there was virtually no way I could be promoted or get a raise), and no room in my life to work towards greater goals. Even at 24 years of age, I felt the time slipping out of my fingers with each passing month.
Meanwhile, all this time, I've only gotten more and more involved with bellydance- emotionally, intellectually, financially, and physically- and I can't help but feel, especially with teaching, that the more I work at it the better I get at it. Also, I love it. I feel a deep, monogamous sort of love for it. I fully anticipate that I'll be in love with it for the rest of my life.
Interestingly, the more deeply I fall in love with the dance, the less I am worried about ever becoming a well-known dancer. I feel less of the gnawing need for external validation now than ever before. I just want to be good at it. I want to put my best effort into performing, studying, and teaching. I want to see my students grow and flourish. I really hope that now I'll have the time to do all of that to the best of my ability.
I want to try to make a career of it if I can. I'm hoping to finally finish my ACE Group Fitness Instructor certification and then start looking at getting more involved movement arts or fitness training (maybe Pilates? maybe some sort of dance? I haven't decided yet). I want to bring something really vital and holistic to my students and to the community, and I love learning so I'm going to try to train as much as I can afford.
I might always have to have a side job, and that would be fine by me. I also know that this might just completely make my life go to shit. A side job might not be enough. I might still completely run myself into the ground financially and become destitute. If that happens, I suppose I'll have to choose between moving back in with my parents, becoming a hobo for real, or going back to temping. Until then, I'm going to give it my all and hope for the best.

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Good luck on your onwards journey! I think the important thing is giving it a go. If it works out, you've got it made; if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world. I've been told it's just a matter of planning what you'll do whether it succeeds or fails, and you won't be at a loss. I'm setting off on a similar journey, so here's the best to the both of us. :)
Hey Sara!

I've been following your blog for some time now ... and this post got me somehow excited, like on christmas ;-) when you expect something wonderful to happen but you don't know what that will be.
I wish you all the best and please keep writing about your experiences.
I am trying to get out of boring job too, this is a time of changes :-)
hugs, Llt
Hey Lilith and Honey!
Thank you both so much for your encouragement. I hope I'll be posting more actively for now on, and it's always nice to get input!
Best of luck to both of you. May we all quit our boring jobs and find a life of bellydance bliss!
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