I’ve lived in Reno, NV since I was a kid, and while I’ve done a lot of traveling, this place has always been home. But I feel like it’s stifling me at this point in my life.
I’m 25 and just got my first Real Job in January, working for a local non-profit public health coalition. I majored in anthropology in school, so I’m not sure how that’s translated to public health, but I think I’ve discovered over the past four months that public health is not my thing. I am so apathetic towards my work, and that’s a really shitty feeling because I’ve always been highly motivated and a hard worker.
My boyfriend is a freelance graphic designer, who also feels like Reno is slowly killing him, but we just haven’t made a concrete plan to get out of here. Every time we plan on it, something comes up. Do you have any words of advice for making the jump? Right now, we’re looking at either Portland, OR or Denver, CO, but I’m not sure what to do to get there.
Girl. GIRL. I spent my 24th and 25th years in a job I disliked so intensely it gave me Sunday night stomachaches, dating a very nice guy I had no business dating. Two weeks before I turned 25, I moved to Taiwan, where I knew exactly zero people.
All of this is to say: I get it. Like, painfully so.
But luckily for you (and for all of us) life is long and change is doable. Here, in the single longest post I’ve ever published, are my suggestions for you.
How to stop hating your job + find one you like
Be honest about what’s not working at your current job
Do you resent working 9-5 when you’ve finished all your work by 3? Are you buried under paperwork and bureaucracy? Do you feel like the work you’re doing isn’t having much of an effect? If you don’t know what’s not working, you won’t be able to avoid those same issues in the future.
I bet if you’re honest with yourself, you probably know what kind of work you want to do
This is something most of us do, isn’t it? We tell ourselves we don’t know what we want and even if we did, we wouldn’t know where to start.
But you do know what you want. As the very clever Danielle LaPorte points out, your real desires are hiding in the things that make you jealous and the things you’d do if money wasn’t an issue. They’re the things you loved as a kid.
The first step to figuring out what you want is to stop telling yourself that you don’t know what you want. Then commit to noticing the activities and moments that bring you joy.
Translate those moments of joy into job-related skills
After you’ve zeroed in on the things you love, you’ll probably want to send me an email that says “NICE TRY SARAH HOW DO I MAKE A CAREER FROM HOSTING DINNER PARTIES.” Touché, my friend, but I’m not going to suggest that you do the exact things that bring you joy (because then my job would be one-person dance parties.)
I am, however, going to suggest that you search for the kernel of truth and commonality in all your passions. Maybe you like hosting dinner parties because you enjoy planning and executing events or because you’re an extrovert who loves to lead groups. Maybe you like to make physical, tangible things with your hands or take care of people. When you know the ‘why’ behind your passions, you’ll be able to find a job that fills those same needs.
Finding a career you love can take a loooooong time
While you’re navigating a career change, be gentle with yourself. It takes most of us years and years to find the right career path. For many of us, there are degrees we don’t use, rewarding but low-paying jobs (or soul-eating high-paying jobs), lots of wrong turns and a few meltdowns in the staff bathroom. Finding the right career path doesn’t always happen in your early twenties.
This is not to say that it can’t happen or that you shouldn’t try to make it happen – just consider this a virtual hug and permission to cut yourself a tiny bit of slack.
When you do find that career, you probably won’t love it every single day
Through equal parts luck and tenacity, my partner and I both have our dream jobs and on a weekly basis we still feel exhausted, annoying, overwhelmed or uninspired. I mean, nobody’s thrilled about quarterly taxes or invoices, right?
Even when you do land the job you’ve always wanted, there were be boring, unpleasant aspects of that job. There might be months at a time that you question your decision to take this ‘dream job.’ That doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong job or the wrong field, it just means you’re a human who’s alive.
Know that “fulfilling work” and “work that fulfills you” are not the same
Before I wrote full-time, I was an ESL teacher, scribbling on whiteboards in classrooms all over the world. I loved my students and I was proud of the work I did. I was also wildly underpaid, overworked, and emotionally, physically, and psychologically exhausted. It was ‘fulfilling’ work that absolutely drained me.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine worked at an ad agency. She was pretty ambivalent about her clients and the work they do (toilet paper, dog food, etc) but loved the creative atmosphere. Her work friends were her real-life friends, her contributions were valued, and she saw her work in national publications. I’m not sure she’d say her work changed the world, but it certainly fulfilled her creative and social needs.
In a perfect world, we’d all have fulfilling work that fulfilled us. But it’s good to remember that you might have to find that fulfillment elsewhere – and if you do, that’s not a failing on your part or your job’s. It’s just your professional reality at the moment.
Action cures anxiety
When I’m overcome with indecision or anxiety, my favorite response is to binge watch Netflix while eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. Surprisingly, this doesn’t help very much.
You know what actually helps? Doing something. Anything. Googling ‘career coach’ and then reading a few blog posts. Looking through your fifth-grade scrapbooks and remembering how much you loved art class. Taking a career quiz.
Be aware of a job’s day-to-day realities before you make a career switch
So let’s say you’ve talked with a career coach, you’ve taken tons of quizzes and your path is clear: elementary school teacher.
Before you sign up for a single class, talk to a minimum of five people who have the job you’re interested in. Ask them how they got into the field (maybe you don’t even need to go back to school!) and ask them for a breakdown of their day-to-day work lives. Ask them very bluntly about the benefits and drawbacks of this job and what surprised them when they first started. If possible, talk to people who have been in this field for different lengths of time – a first-year teacher will have very different insights than a 20-year veteran.
For a long time, I thought I wanted to be a journalist. And then I wrote for a newspaper and experienced working weekends and holidays, asking people very awkward questions they really didn’t want to answer, writing under tight deadlines, all while receiving the lowest pay of any professional field. That was the day-to-day reality of the job I’d always wanted. Be ye not so stupid as me! Know what you’re getting into!
Also: it’s totally fine to “just” have a job that you don’t mind and fill the rest of your life with wonderful things
Oprah and Marie Forleo (and maybe even this blog) have all contributed to the idea that if you follow your bliss, you’ll never work another day in your blahblahblahbutwhatabouttherent. You should never work a job you hate. You shouldn’t spend eight hours a day, five days a week, doing something that brings you sadness or guilt or crippling anxiety.
That being said, very few of us fantasize about being logistics coordinators or tax attorneys when we grow up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a full, exciting life while putting in 40 hours a week in a cubicle. You are not a ‘sell out’ if you find a job you don’t mind and then spend money from said job on things and experiences you truly love. You are not contractually obligated to the universe to make a career of your oil paintings. It’s totally okay to be an accountant who sells her paintings on Etsy and teaches the occasional Community Ed class.
Also also: you don’t have to pick something and do it forever
So let’s say you decide to go back to school to become an elementary school teacher and six years in, you’re burned out. A: welcome to the club! B: You should be proud of yourself! You tried something new. You pursued a dream and it worked for a while and now it doesn’t and that’s okay.
How to move to a new city + hate your current city less
Be honest about why you don’t like about your city
Just like you did with your uninspiring job, I’m going to suggest that you get really clear on what, exactly, it is that you don’t like about Reno. Do you hate the weather? Are your cultural and political leanings out of sync with most of the population? Are you sick of being surrounded by people you’ve known forever? Do you have a hobby you can’t really do there? Maybe you’re just ready for something new!
Again, it’s important to know what’s not working so you can avoid it in the future.
Really, actively research cities you’re interested in
I know it’s tempting to move somewhere that seems cool or somewhere you know a few people – and those are good jumping off points! But before you quit any jobs or give notice on your apartment, do some serious research on your towns of choice. What are the average temperatures in the summer and winter? How much sunshine do they get? What’s the cost of living? How tight is the real estate market? What are the unemployment and crime rates?
We all have subconscious biases against cities and regions that are perfectly lovely and biases for cities that are spectacularly expensive and crowded (I’m looking at you, NYC and San Francisco.)
Once you’ve got it narrowed down, go visit those cities
I mean, obviously, right? Do a bit of research about the neighborhoods where you’d want to live and, if possible, rent Airbnbs there. How convenient is it? How’s the parking? Can you easily access public transport?
I’d actually suggest visiting during a non-peak time of year and staying for as long as you can afford. We all want to live in DC when the cherry trees are blooming – but what about November? Or August?
Set a realistic moving date and budget and work backward from there
So you’ve nailed down your destination! Choose a date and stick to it. Write it on the calendar, give notice, and start telling people that you’re moving. (It’s a lot harder to back out of things when everyone’s asking about it.)
Just about everything in life takes twice as long and costs twice as much as we expect, so budget more money and time than you’d expect. If you’re moving in six months, what needs to be ready at the five month point? The three month point? Give yourself (and your boyfriend) teeny, tiny doable steps and start chipping away at them.
Sell your stuff
A few years ago, my friend Winona moved from Portland to Nashville. “We considered packing everything into a Uhaul to make the trip, but ended up scrapping that plan for financial reasons (Uhauls are expensive!!). And I AM SO GLAD WE DID. Selling much of what we owned was one of the most gratifying, empowering things I’ve ever done. It made me realize how few possessions I actually need, gave us more money to fund the move itself, and it was so much fun to start fresh — truly — when we arrived in our new place, rather than lugging a bunch of old furniture and knick knacks along. I wrote more about it here.”
Be nice to yourself
Moving to a new place where you don’t know anyone is awesome, but it’s also really hard. Give yourself time to adjust and don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong (which they will). Embrace the ridiculous adventure of starting a new life, including the sad, scary, comically messy parts.
Take the chance to reassess everything
More from Winona: “When I moved I felt like I had shed this heavy, outdated definition of myself and could suddenly be whoever I wanted to be. I took the chance to treat all my previous patterns and habits like politicians up for reelection. Were they still serving me? Or was it time for some new representation? I would ask myself things, “Does my Nashville self use mint floss?” and “My Portland self was late all the time. What if I wasn’t late all the time?” A fresh start is a powerful opportunity. Use it.”
Be aggressive about pursuing new friendships
Don’t be shy or subtle about connecting with people. When you’re the new person in town, you have to swallow your pride and be willing to say, “Hey, I think you’re awesome and I want to hang out” when you feel any kind of friendship spark, and then follow up. Say yes to every invite, at least for awhile.
Changing careers and moving cities is no small undertaking and you’ll have several months (or years!) of transition before you get where you want to go. But that doesn’t mean your life needs to be an endless drudgery till then.
Start a gratitude journal and work to find the positives in your job + city
Yes, this is trite advice. Yes, it works. Some days, your entry might just consist of “I’m grateful for the staff room cupcakes today” or “I’m grateful that I can have dinner with my parents whenever I want.” Make an active decision to see the best in your job and city; pretty soon they’ll be a memory and you might even miss them!
Do all the touristy, interesting stuff that you’ve never done
I don’t know about you, but there are huge swathes of my city and state that I’ve never seen. I just keep going to the same noodle house in Frogtown and ordering the same bun chay with fried tofu over and over and over. Take a look through your city and state tourism websites or Roadtrippers or TripAdvisor, make a Nevada bucket list and check them off while you’re setting your sites elsewhere.
Find ways to make your job more enjoyable
Let’s say you’ve realized that what you hate most about your job is the commute. Could you work from home once a week? Work 7-4 instead of 8-5? If you need more creative challenges, could you offer to do the graphic design for the marketing material? Look for ways to make your job fit your preferences.
Finally, when you do make the leap to a new city and career, know that it might be hard at first
Generally speaking, most new things suck for the first few months – if not longer. You don’t know anyone in your new city, all the liquor stores are closed on Sundays, your boss is clueless. This doesn’t mean you made a mistake, it just means you were brave enough to leave the harbor and you’re getting your sea legs.Whew! Well, that was a small novel. If you’ve changed careers or cities, what did you do? What advice would you give our friend?
P.S. If you know someone who might need to read this, send them a link!
How was your week guys? I’m mostly buried under a pile of moving boxes and work, but I found time for pizza and beer with friends and Saturday night bowling.Links! We’ve got plenty of space in next month’s Network of Nice! If you need a (non-Google-able, non-promotional) hookup, send me 100-ish words! If you could provide a hookup, send me 100ish words! I’m sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org.
People are listing glass-eyed demons that may contain an evil spirit, a vengeful poltergeist, an age-old curse, or just the devil himself within their fragile porcelain shell. The dolls don’t come cheap, though: One possessed troll doll sold for $1,400. So if you’re hoping for a doll that will transfer their evil murderous spirit into your flesh vessel and go on a killing spree, get ready to pay top dollar.
If you’re not sure if you should post something on social media, this flow chart will help.A round-up of the teenage bedrooms we see on tv and in movies.
He studied Icelandic sagas, the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, and an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible. Of Hindu Vedic hymns, he wrote: “These hymns, of more than ten thousand lines, are brimming with descriptions of the heavens. Scarcely any subject is evoked more frequently. The sun and reddening dawn’s play of color, day and night, cloud and lightning, the air and ether, all these are unfolded before us, again and again … but there is one thing no one would ever learn from these ancient songs … and that is that the sky is blue.”
“I think living an expensive lifestyle means you can’t hang out with people who don’t live that lifestyle,” she says. “It alienates you. Some of my best, most hilarious times have been in the least luxurious places.”
How was your week, guys? I had some friends over for dinner (I made this and it was amaaaazing), experienced The Blue Door‘s make-your-own grilled cheese menu, and attended a friend’s Wrestlemania party which obviously had themed food.Links for you!
I’ve got space for a few more hookup offers and hookup requests in April’s Network of Nice! Send 100ish words about your non-Google-able, non-promotional hookup and I’ll include you. I’m sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org.
I see people called out on social media and blogs constantly. I’ve been called out myself (for justifiable reasons) on several occasions. Some thoughts on that.
What makes call-out culture so toxic is not necessarily its frequency so much as the nature and performance of the call-out itself. Especially in online venues like Twitter and Facebook, calling someone out isn’t just a private interaction between two individuals: it’s a public performance where people can demonstrate their wit or how pure their politics are. Indeed, sometimes it can feel like the performance itself is more significant than the content of the call-out. This is why “calling in” has been proposed as an alternative to calling out: calling in means speaking privately with an individual who has done some wrong, in order to address the behaviour without making a spectacle of the address itself.
My favorite Instagram of late.Have you ever wondered why photographers charge so much? Here’s why.
A great interview with our collective girlfriends, Abbi and Ilana of Broad City fame. (And in case you were wondering, no. They don’t want to get stoned with you.)
I CANNOT EVEN STAND HOW SEXY THESE SHOES ARE. (I don’t know how to walk in them but that’s beside the point.)
Yes. On the importance of Leslie Knope, friendship, and feminism. Leslie Knope is the traditionally “difficult” woman, where “difficult” means that misogynist jerks don’t want to deal with women like her. She is outspoken and passionate and she doesn’t want to take no for an answer when a “yes” can mean that people’s lives get better. Ben doesn’t just accept those things about Leslie — he loves her for them. Ben is a nerdy male feminist, one of the few I’ve ever seen portrayed in popular media, and he loves his wife and supports her no matter what. It’s not just that they have a love of politics in common — they are a team and he’s just as willing to give up something for her as she is for him.
How was your week, guys? I somehow managed juuuuust the right balance of work and play (something that very rarely happens). Lots of writing and blogging, mixed with dinner parties, bad movie nights, and brunches. Lovely!Links for you!
I’ve got space for two more hookup requests and a few more hookup offers in March’s Network of Nice. Send me 100-ish words about your non-Googleable, non-promotional idea at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org.
Unless you want to become a world famous pianist or compete at the Olympics, you don’t have to achieve mastery to get to a level you can be proud of or to enjoy playing the piano or running or anything else that you want to do. And while true mastery might require a huge time investment, you can get good at most skills pretty quickly.
It’s totally gimmicky and I 100% don’t care. I love thisfancy water bottle with its charcoal stick filter.
Have you heard of the GTFO app? It lists all the flights with available seats leaving your city that night – listed from cheapest to most expensive. Wouldn’t that be fun for a last minute getaway?
What if you set Charity USA as your homepage? You can benefit leading non-profit organizations by clicking on the free contribution button daily, making a micro-donation, and shopping for gifts, apparel, jewelry, and home décor.
Discuss: “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from Here’s my life. My husband and I get up each morning at 7 o’clock and he showers while I make coffee. By the time he’s dressed I’m already sitting at my desk writing. He kisses me goodbye then leaves for the job where he makes good money, draws excellent benefits and gets many perks, such as travel, catered lunches and full reimbursement for the gym where I attend yoga midday. His career has allowed me to work only sporadically, as a consultant, in a field I enjoy.
Have you heard of Feasted? It’s like ‘Blue Apron’ … but for families living on a tight food budget. So important and helpful!
As a former linguist I loooove the Twitter feed @darewords – it’s a round up of regional American English.
cheechako: a newcomer, tenderfoot. [Chinook Jargon; Alaska, Pacific Northwest]
stomp: a male rustic or someone who dresses like one. [New Mexico]
Hannah Cook: in various phrases signifying insignificance, often of persons, e.g., “He don’t amount to a Hannah Cook.” [chiefly NEng]An app that silences your phone when it knows you’re in a meeting, driving, sleeping? Into it.
Are you guys digging yourself out of the holiday gluttony and crumpled wrapping paper? I didn’t quite make it through my self-imposed break without working, but a lot of my ‘work’ consisted of pinning outfits that pair stripes with patterns and freaking out about my app launch.
Also! Before we dive into this week’s links, I’ve got space for five more Network of Nice hook up requests and innumerable hook up offers. The Network of Nice is a great way to make new friends, get travel or career advice, chat with people who’ve experienced something you’re currently going through, or beta test your services. If you’re interested, send me 100 words about your non-Googleable, non-promotional hook up and I’ll tuck you into January’s post!Anyhoo. Links for you!
As though you needed a reason to adopt a cat! (If you do, here are 50)If you live in a cold, dark place the Danish concept of Hygge can help you manage. Hygge describes an intentional chilling out of the spirit as a way to harmonize with – not combat or stave off – the darkness of winter, and an intentional meditative time created out of the much-maligned but potentially fruitful malady we desperately call cabin fever. Hygge, then, is about man caves. Woman caves. Ice houses. Saunas. Igloos. Blankets. Hunkering down. Staying in. Cuddling up. Lighting candles. Making love, not work or war.
Sally and La Salle—he used the alias “Frank Warner” at that time—moved into a rooming house at 203 Pacific Street in Atlantic City. She called her mother on several occasions, always from a pay station, to say she was having a swell time. For six weeks, Ella Horner thought nothing was amiss—she believed her daughter was on summer vacation with friends.Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work as a magazine editor? A day in the life.
Rape doesn’t just happen to women and the victim doesn’t have to be likable to be telling the truth. A victim doesn’t have to be relatable or reliable or likable or “normal” – or even a good person – for you to believe them. You can be utterly baffled by someone’s every move and still take their victimisation seriously. LaBeouf’s bizarre behaviour and his sexual violation are in no way mutually exclusive, nor are the latter and his gender. “He was asking for it.” “Why didn’t he fight back?” “Why didn’t he say ‘no’?” “He must have wanted it.” “He seems crazy.” These are flat-out unacceptable things to say to a person of any gender. In a culture where male victimhood is stigmatised as feminine and weak (toxic masculinity is, above all, an extension of misogyny), believing male victims isn’t oppositional to feminism, it is a feminist imperative.
How was your Thanksgiving, guys? I celebrated with my guy and his family and tried to impress all of them by bringing this. Friday I wandered around Redwing with my family eating roasted chestnuts and trying to pat reindeer.Also! I’m looking for interviewees for the ‘Mornings In….‘ series. I’m interested in interviewing natives (rather than expats) living in:
* South Korea
* The Philippines
Email me at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org if you’d like to be interviewed!
Some links for you!
I saw Amanda Palmer live a few weeks ago and she was wonderful. If you’re in the market for a good cry, this will get you started.
I’m reading this book and dog-earring like crazy. One of my favorite excerpts:
I took the one action I could think of, besides calling Bonnie and praying. I wrote Amy’s name down on a bit of paper and put it in my god box, an old Sunshine Biscuits tin that I use as a mail drop to God. “Here,” I said to Jesus, with enormous hostility, “have a go at it,” and closed the lid.
Are you following Tweets of Old? It’s a twitter stream that gleans tiny, funny updates from real, old newspapers. Each tweet is capped off with the state abbreviation and the year it was originally published.
Two tramps with unkempt hair and rough faces were seen loitering around town Friday lunching off cheese and crackers. MO1893
A reminder that anyone we admire – writer, performer, politician – is still an actual, fallible human being. Here’s the truth: Nicki isn’t some goddess who gets it all right, nor is any other celebrity. Onika Maraj is a human like the rest of us— including Beyoncé. (Never forget her elevator fight, the baby bangs debut or that epic tumble down all those stage stairs.)
We have to relinquish the idea that just because someone is famous, they are better than the rest of us, or have some cosmic understanding of how to navigate the world more efficiently. It’s not true.
I spent years as an ESL teacher and nearly everyone in my family works in education. I loved this piece about teachers and ‘that’ kid. Your child, this year, in this classroom, at this age, is not THAT child. Your child is not perfect, but she generally follows rules. He is able to share toys peaceably. She does not throw furniture. He raises his hand to speak. She works when it is time to work, and plays when it is time to play. He can be trusted to go straight to the bathroom and straight back again with no shenanigans. She thinks that the S-word is “stupid” and the C-word is “crap.” I know.
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