I slept the sleep of the dead that night. Or at least that of a jet-lagged, sleep deprived international traveler. I stumbled out of bed the next morning, eager to get to work and see my co-workers – friends who had sent me teasing emails about how I had made-up the whole volcano eruption just so that I could squeeze out an extra week of vacation.
But first, I had to check my email.
Mario had written. A simple “Buon Viaggio,” along with details of his childhood in Sicily. Mario loved his homeland. Pride oozed out of every word he wrote to describe the people, the rhythm of life, the amazing food and the beautiful land that makes the Island of Sicily so enchanting. He also wrote of the tough economy and the inability to find work, which had led him, in a very un-Italian fashion, to strike of on his own, leaving home and family 10 years earlier. Though he carried his homeland in his heart, he had made his way up to Tuscany, started his own business, and made the best possible life he could – while visiting as often as possible.
I barely had time to scan through the lines before I had to head out the door. The response would have to wait until later.
It was time to go back to work.
I had started working at this job, with a prominent theatre company in Washington DC, about 2 ½ years earlier. Fresh out of grad school, I started as an intern and quickly worked my way up to my current position, which was the head of my department. I loved my job. It was the job I had trained for in school, at the dream organization. It was a job I shouldn’t have had that early in my career, but a combination of working hard and being in the right place at the right time had made it possible. I also thoroughly enjoyed my co-workers. My department worked in tandem with a few other departments, and the whole team had a family quality to it. I had often felt like I could stay at this job forever.
Unfortunately, I had also reached a level of burnout. Over the past few years I had learned that in order to be truly successful in my chosen career, I had to be willing to give my life over to it. 40-hour workweeks are a rarity in the theatre world, and with the tanking of the environment, budget cuts, and a general increase in expectations, my workload had only increased. While I was capable of doing the work of 3 people, as my current job description had me do, I also craved balance. I wanted to be able to explore some of my other interests and talents – and I wanted to not feel guilty if I wasn’t checking my work email at 11:00pm.
I also knew that I would be crazy to walk away from this job. Nor did I really want to.
With the extended vacation to help ease the stress that had been building, I knew that this was the time to really figure out my future in my field. Things were only going to get crazier over the next few months, and it was time to see if I really did still love my job. It was also time to seriously (and discretely) explore what my options were if I decided to change paths.
But first, I had to find out what I had missed while I was gone.