I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. Full disclosure time, being on the #SAsearch outside of “TPE season” has sucked. Conducting an #SAsearch anytime outside of the spring semester can be for lack of a better term…well…depressing.
Last month I remember using the phrase “treading water” to describe how I felt while looking for a job during my “gap year”. I also described how jealous I was of my peers and colleagues as I came across their excited job-related posts on various social media platforms. Meanwhile, I felt as if I was making little to no real progress towards anything resembling a real career.
One of the reasons I chose not to invest in a trip to TPE last spring, a trip that likely would have opened doors to new opportunities both regionally and nationally and negated this post, was my relationship. Long story short, I met my previous partner months after first relocating to Mobile, Alabama from Connecticut and we enjoyed a relationship that lasted for about two years. We lived together, we thought we’d try managing our careers together, and we looked forward to the future. But things change, people change, and plans change. I’m sure we all know a little about this within our extremely fast-paced field!
As if job-related depression wasn’t enough, tackling post-relationship depression onto my plate made for an even more difficult couple of months. I went from beaming with smiles and exuberance to feel dejected almost on a daily basis. I retreated inward within myself, didn’t keep up with as many of my friends as I normally do, and struggled. I tried working out but I couldn’t overcome this mental fog that cast a shadow over everything I did. There were times that I became too retrospective and obsessively analyzed actions I took in the past thinking that if I understood how exactly I found myself where I am today, then maybe I could avoid that path again in the future and “right the ship”.
I spent some time looking into the mirror at my reflection. I saw someone who has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. I’m the first member of my family to graduate with a four year degree, the first to graduate with a masters, and now the first to be taking PhD classes. I felt like I should be happy with myself but these things still weren’t enough for me.
Enter the early mid-life crisis.
I’ve spent the last couple months seriously analyzed if I wanted to pursue this whole “higher ed thing” as I not-so-affectionately call it at times. Ironically, as depression and confusion set in about continuing to pursue this career, I began writing more often and found that people actually cared to read my sports-related pieces. I began receiving feedback that reminded me of the feeling I used to get while working with students. You know, the feeling when you see a student reach that “a ha!” moment and solve an issue that was giving them trouble.
But again, I started reflecting. No matter how much I wrote about sports, no matter how many conversations I had with readers, I found that nothing could replace the interactions I was still having with students on campus. This isn’t a Disney movie though.
I’m still not out of the woods yet. I’ve had more better days than bad days recently but those bad days still creep on in every so often. I’m trying to reinvest myself into what I care about, taking things day by day, week by week. I’ve put off long-term projects for the moment in an effort to truly focus on me and you know what, it’s working.
I still can’t put my finger on it. Writing about my experiences as of late help, but I can’t identify whether or not I stretched myself too thin and was overworked, or if my troubles were born from a combination of the void left by not attending TPE and exiting a relationship. All I can say is, a moment alone isn’t necessary a moment to be depressed.
I’ve taken much time to myself lately in an effort to find myself again. I owe it to myself and any future employer to truly be happy before pursuing any future employment.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Conor McLaughlin on SA Work-Life Balance