I've worked in social services/advocacy for almost 30 years, in one way or another, starting with volunteering in college, then full-time, then part-time when my kids were younger, then full-time again. Most of this time I've been on the front lines working directly with clients. I've been politically, philosophically, financially and in every other way committed to being of service to folks with fewer privileges than I, and I can say with all honesty that my heart has always been in it. But over the past year and a half or so, I found myself facing serious burn-out. And now, after several months of agonizing over it, I've decided to trade in my career for a plain old, regular, office job* that requires no emotional involvement and little to no contact with the public. I simply cannot do it anymore.
*Absolutely no denigration of office work implied here in any way. I'm just trying to make a distinction between what I do now, where I have on-going and often draining emotional involvement with people, and what I want to do going forward, where my energies will be focused on different kinds of things.
Have people become more difficult, more challenging, more unpleasant, more demanding and frequently abusive? Or does my burnt-out-ness mean I simply have less empathy and patience? I don't really know, and at this point I've decided it doesn't really matter, since the end result is the same. I'll be leaving my public advocacy job at the end of next week. I want to get out before all of my caring and commitment is spit up and chewed out. I don't want to become THAT person, the one who says shitty things about disadvantaged folks and complains about the poor and gets all cynical about my fellow human beings.
I don't have a new job lined up yet, although I've been busily applying for administrative type work. I'm aware that I've cleverly chosen to make this change during a recession and period of record-high unemployment, and that it could be a while before I'm working again. This terrifies me, as Mr. Geekgables and I have only a little financial cushion, but I just cannot. do. this. any. more.
A big part of me feels like I'm quitting, like I'm running away from work just because it's hard, and that I'm abandoning people. And a big part of me feels so completely liberated and relieved and just plain old happy. And grateful in an indescribable way for a spouse who, although he is very very anxious about the financial aspects of this change, nevertheless supports me 100% because he loves me and trusts my judgment.
I'll be grateful also for any positive energy GTers might be inclined to send out to the Universe for this transition.