Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | September 28, 2006

An identity in crisis…

As you may have guessed from the dearth of posts, I have been somewhat busy, which would be somewhat of an understatement. Deadlines, deadlines everywhere, and as if 12 hours a day in the office were not enough, I have been using my train time for work as well (which is my usual blogging time). Fortunately, I’ve found myself in a bit of a lull (the eye of the storm, perhaps), so I’ve decided to push out a new entry, while I’ve got some time to spare.

I suppose that in a way I’m actually quite fortunate, as 12-hour days are the exception for me rather than the norm, though when they do occur, it’s usually in bunches, over the course of a week or something, and rarely a day here or a day there. Most days, I leave work at a most reasonable hour, allowing me to spend afternoons with the little one. Overall, my commute isn’t too bad, my hours are mostly decent, my salary and benefits package is not one to be sneezed at (by Israeli standards, anyway), and best of all, I have the laptop, which allows me to write wherever I happen to be (which very much appeals to the writer in me).

So I should be grateful, shouldn’t I? With all of these aspects in my favor, especially being able to spend so much quality time with my son, I should be happy. But I’m not. Nrg reckons I’m going through something akin to a midlife crisis, and perhaps I am. All I know is that I’m feeling terribly unsettled and unsatisfied, and I’m not sure what to do about it. Hi-tech no longer excites me as it once did, and I’m definitely feeling the pull of the ideology-based non-profit world. I’m tired of this sector, tired of the unpredictability, the frenzied work environment. I’m no longer enamored of the hi-tech work ethic, where the reigning attitude seems to be one of “we’ll compensate you well, work you to the bone, and suck your soul out until there’s nothing left.” Sounds irresistible, doesn’t it? I suppose for the young and ambitious, it probably does. Seeing as I’m neither (not that I’m old or completely lacking in ambition, mind you, just not chomping at the bit to make it to the top), I find myself wondering more and more what I’m doing here.

I am torn. I want to enjoy my work. I want to feel passionate about the things I do and write. And I want to be paid a decent wage for it, and not merely a pittance. Sadly, it seems that these ideals are mutually exclusive. Several months ago, I turned down an offer for a position that, had I been at the beginning of my career, trying to break into journalism, I would have taken in a heartbeat. I actually felt a physical ache at having to say no, and even waited a few days before phoning in my regrets. The gentleman in question sensed my indecision and subsequently tried to bring me on board via other channels, but I simply couldn’t do it. The conditions made it impossible to accept, no matter how hard I tried to work out a satisfactory solution, and to this day, I still think about these missed opportunities. To this man’s credit, he left the door wide open, asking that I phone him should I ever change my mind, whether it be a week from now, a month from now, or a year from now. Unless the conditions change drastically though, there’s just no way. No matter how hard I work it, I simply cannot handle such a serious drop in salary (less than a third of my current salary) or having to do shift work (including nights, holidays and weekends).

But there has to be something better, or at least a happy medium. There has to be something that will satisfy both my soul and my bank account, though I have yet to figure out what it is. I’ve thought about freelance writing on the side, dipping my toes in the water, so to speak, but I’m not sure if there’d be any interest. I mean, clearly, I’m at least a decent writer, as I do have several regular readers, and have even been contacted by a few “real” publications interested in reprinting some of my blog entries (but more on that if and when it pans out…). Could I do it? Am I good enough? Would people be interested in what I have to say, interested enough to pay me? That remains to be seen.

Or maybe I could head for the non-profit sector, where people care more about ideas and issues than they do about salaries (otherwise, they’d be working in the private sector – salary slaves like the rest of us), where I could write about issues that are important to me, issues that affect others. I just don’t know. All I know is that I’m not happy, I don’t feel like I’m in the right place – either physically or emotionally, and it’s spilling over into other areas of my life.

Maybe nrg is right (after all, it’s been known to happen on a startling number of occasions, and if the one person who knows me better than pretty much anyone else in the world makes a point such as this, it probably wouldn’t hurt to listen). Perhaps I am in the throes of a mid-life crisis of sorts. In a way, I suppose I’m lucky in that I more or less know what I’d like to be doing, I’m just not sure how to get there or which path to take, and at this stage of my life, I’m not too keen on failure (though admittedly, most people aren’t, no matter where they are or what they’re doing), and let’s face it – change, though exciting, can be a very scary thing.

Blech. I just don’t know what to do. I think I need a few more days in Amsterdam…

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Responses

  1. hiya liza.. I don’t think its a mid-life crisis..to me it sounds like what you are going through is every writer/journalist/artist’s nightmare.. having to balance your passion with your salary.. in my case i’ve chosen the first, and i gave the whole lot of money for personal satisfaction in what i do, but at my age and lack of responsibilities, it is a feasible option.

    It seems you are pretty busy, and probably its not leaving you much time to think about options, or create ones.

    I wish to offer solutions, but all I can offer is best wishes. You are not alone in what you are going through, all creative people go through this problem.

  2. Jump on in to freelancing!! As I kept telling myself, even if everyone says no, you’re life doesn’t change at all and along the line someone says yes. The crap that I produce regularly, and get paid for, proves that. 😉 You’ll be a natural!

  3. ah, I knew the creative souls would come forth and give you advice based on experience. We touched on that subject, too, you and I. That the writing you enjoy will probably never provide the remuneration of hi-tech. We also touched on shared responsibility at home to bring in the salaries necessary to make life go ’round. I just think that you are at a crossroads where you are feeling the creative pull and need to answer that pull to whatever degree life makes possible. It will make you feel more complete and that will spill over into every other part of your life.

    How about Oslo? I’m home anyway, so we could just hang and blog-surf! 🙂

  4. hei nrg..

    there’s a chance I am coming to Oslo soon for a short visit 🙂

    would be nice to meet up for a cup of coffee, two loyal fans of Liza’s blog.

  5. Rami,
    would love to! Just let me know the dates and we’ll get a cuppa at Aker Brygge!

  6. Sorry, crises are tough. Bit too busy to really comment. Hug the kid.

  7. Liza – What a wonderful dilemma! Talents, passions, options…and most of all, time. If you start down a path that doesn’t work, you have time to change direction. You’re in the process of discovering your real priorities and your tolerance for risk, two very valuable pieces of self-knowledge.

  8. Your Amsterdam trip sounded absolutely awesome, I can’t blame you for wanting to go back!

    Sadly, I have absolutely no advice to offer. I just hope it’s NOT a mid-life crisis, because I think we’re both the same age, and I’m not ready for mid-life just yet!

    Seriously, good luck- I would say “yihiye beseder” if I didn’t detest that phrase so much. Hope those 12-hour days end soon!

  9. Rami: Thanks for the wishes. I suppose it’s comforting to know that I’m going through the typical creative person’s (hey! I’m creative!) dilemma (which sounds slightly more optimistic than nightmare).

    I guess I’ve got to figure out how to find the right balance, which is the trickiest part. I’m trying to test the waters, see what’s out there, but it’s hard when there’s not a lot of time to do so. You are lucky to be in a position to be able to follow your dreams (and it sounds like you are doing quite well!).

    Beth: Are you saying that I’d be a natural at producing crap? 😉 Thanks! I think…

    nrg: We touched on a lot of subjects, given that we essentially spoke for three days straight! 🙂 You’re right though. It’s about finding the balance, and I’ve got to get myself in gear and figure out how to do that.

    I suppose it’s similar to exercising. Starting out is the hardest part, and you keep putting it off. Once you actually get started though, and you’ve sort of figured out a direction, things look clearer and you start to feel better. Of course, you know how lax I’ve always been about exercising… 😦

    Rami and nrg: Could I be any more jealous that you two are going to meet up for coffee in Oslo? My only consolation is that you will probably both be wearing winter clothes and it will be snowing, while here we’ll still be in short sleeves…

    I expect a full report and at least one photo of the two of you together.

    Lisoosh: Hope all is well and that it’s a “good” busy. Have been hugging the kid a lot…

    Savtadotty: You actually make what I’m going through sound exciting! The problem is that thoughts of real-life responsibilities get in the way, like the fact that my husband is self-employed, so my steady salary is kind of important. It’s a shame I didn’t have this crisis when I was younger, but with the experience and wisdom that I have today.

    When I was in the US in June, I was going through some things I’d written in high school. Even then I was writing about wanting to be a journalist, and I guess that got lost somewhere along the way.

    rr: I’m already fantasizing about the next trip there! There’s so much that we didn’t get a chance to see (nrg – we really have to go to Artis Zoo next time, ok?), so many restaurants we haven’t tried…

    I’m starting to think that it’s not a mid-life crisis, but more of what the other creative types are saying above. If it were a real mid-life crisis, I’d probably be going after that red hummer that you’ve been drooling over… 🙂

  10. Hi Liza. It’s been a long while since I visited your neighborhood but the timing seems right insofar as subject matter goes. My slice: Years ago a psych professor talked about the edge of the unknown. Standing at the abyss and trying to decide whether or not to go down the least known path i.e. risky and frightening or opting for comfortable and familiar. If you leap, no matter how calculated, it’s always a risk. However, if you calculate it enough by giving the leap a timeline and ceiling, squirrel away $$ just in case and have a definite direction then hell…And always think: Others do it and make a living

  11. It turned out that the ‘international’ conference i was supposed to go to in Oslo is held in Norwegian only. So the trip is cancelled this time, but Oslo is only 4 hours away, maybe we’ll meet up soon, NRG. I was thinking about MONO, my favorite place in Oslo, do u know it?


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