jump_the_shark1Does anybody remember when Happy Days “Jumped the Shark?”

Does anybody, like me, remember when your life or your job “jumped the shark?”

What this refers to is the term for when a television show changes from relevant to absurd and past its prime.  When Happy Days literally had Fonzie jump a freaking shark, that episode is sometimes said to mark the point when the show was done.

I don’t use this phrase to say that my career is done, but sometimes I feel like I won’t find anything worthwhile (to me) to do – or worse end up in another soul-less “job”- and it reflects how I feel when I go job hunting in the google machine.

I remember a time when I sought out jobs just beyond my experience but clearly within my abilities, and I loved a range of experience and challenges.  At one point I had 6 part time jobs at one time and felt confident because between the ages of 24 and maybe 33 my skill level and experiences outpaced the average work pool of my age, and I was successful at everything I tried.  I loved using my brain differently every day.

Then I “decided” on Chiropractic as my career.  Now I know it was simply something I found interesting, which for me means I want to learn everything about it until I’m bored over it satisfied in my curiosity, then move on to learning something new. And I am so, so bored now.

Now even though I don’t have any doubts as to the value of my history, skills and experience, or doubts about my imagination and drive or how well I could do anything I’m interested in…I have been having some rude awakenings while job searching about what my future holds.

I’m not… normal. Or at least that’s what I’ve gathered.  I abhor the status quo, doing things “because this is how we’ve always done them”, and traditional thinking.  I’m tired of being forced to function “normally” in atmospheres that to me feel stilted and counterproductive, and cause psychological pain (lacking a better description).  I can follow instruction, think logically and do cookie cutter work accurately in my sleep, but if there’s anything I’m not in the workplace it’s “traditional.”

Politics and insecurity dominate, where I work now and in to that system I do not fit. And I cannot continue to work within unimaginative systems.

I simply don’t see the world the way others do and I most definitely do not have the fears or acceptance that others do, with regards to behavior and decision making in the workplace.  My expectation for work is to do something unbelievable and interesting, not to be a clinical over-achiever and rack up, I dunno…points (borrrring). 

I want to work with people. I want to learn what they know, find people who know different or know better (or know stranger but smarter!) and then share how amazing they are so that we can all make some kind of magic at work and have fun.  I want to be part of a process, not employed in spite of it.  And it would sure be nice to be the recipient of that kind of respect and curiosity in return, on a regular basis.

And isn’t that how it should be?

Here is the stark dichotomy that’s cropping up for me right now and making me wonder whether I’ve jumped the shark, professionally, or if I can still be relevant (and I mean relevant doing what I consider amazing and important and interesting, not just any job).

After looking on two online job search sites in Santa Fe, New Mexico (a default search, for me) I found things like:  Administrative assistant, Business manager, General manager, Office manager and Project coordinator.

The Fonz

The SHARK. Joanie loves Chachi… yeah yeah yeah… we know. Now what? End the show? Make another spin-off? Or jump a shark? For real, whose idea was that?

Snore.  I need to branch out my search parameters, clearly.

These are jobs I would have sought out 14 years ago or more, especially the higher ones. Not because I had the age or qualifications for them, but because I had the interest, talent and skill and…sometimes…got hired. But those jobs…they’re not enough for me anymore. Especially now that I’ve embraced my creative, digital and evolved-workplace interests.

And then there’s this:  Continuum Innovation.  With to-die-for job titles like usability specialist, and junior (or senior) envisioner (envisioner!!! yes yes yes! Just that word, attached to a job listing, makes me want to jump up and down) and the part of me that’s looking for a career path that makes my heart and brain sing says “thank you, another thing I could and would want to do!”

And yet.. I can’t help wondering. Am I there yet? Or did I pass beyond the time when I could have pursued this?  Am I quirky and innovative enough? Am I too old? Or not cool enough? What if I went there and found that my wackadoo imagination with special sauce on top is comparatively yawn-worthy compared to everyone around me? I’d like that.  I’d like them their brains because I’m part zombie, duh.  But would braaiiins they, like me?

And, let’s be entirely honest. Experientially, behaviorally and in terms of my interests, I’m a big personality in a small pond.         Here.

Will those abilities translate back to a larger pond, with more fish like me?

And more importantly, much much more importantly, at least to me… why aren’t there more inspiring jobs for non-traditional people who don’t fit into any standard mold?



10 Responses to Whoa?! When did my career jump the shark?

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Ah, yes, the question of ‘what do I want to be when I grow’ up never seems to go away, does it? Guess that’s what keeps life interesting. And frustrating…

    • andrea1 says:

      True.. True. I still want to be a ballerina, but every single class I see here is advertised for children only. ;). Right now I’m just wondering if I know too little AND too much for jobs I’d consider interesting, and therefore must *settle* for some garbage in the middle? How’s your summer adventure?!

  2. Keep on keepin’ on Andrea. You’re a smart girl and will figure it all out. =)

  3. You have me cracking up here with jumping the shark. I feel the same way as you do. We really should talk sometime. I have a friend at work who’s paved his way (but this place is honestly not for me) and he calls himself a master solutionary! Even put it on his business card for the company! Haha. One of my friends just told me she’s opening a coffee shop and wants my help…even with the 90% cut in pay possibility I got excited about the prospect…something new! Meeting people! But I’m scared to jump.

    • andrea1 says:

      For a 90% pay cut I’d be afraid to jump too!
      Master solutionary! I love that! My barrier is that I’m somewhere where we’re not ALLOWED to fix things, most especially if it threatens anyone’s ego (whether its good or right being unimportant and secondary..lol). It’s odd how your friend carves himself a place but its more difficult for you. I have a colleague here who has molded himself so thoroughly into the psychologic system, out of fear and self preservation, but in to a system that works against employee development and welfare. Whereas I bang my head against the barrier to progress to hard and so constantly because I cannot fathom it not eventually getting better! Could *never* mold myself into dysfunction just to fit in. I’m glad to have another career change person in my tribe, and to be in yours! 🙂 What kind of things are you looking for? If I come across them Ill forward! 🙂

      • I want to write and I want to travel! I have a good logical analytical brain and would like to put that to good use. i love meeting people! Trying to figure out how, all together, that makes me money. What about you?

        • andrea1 says:

          I want to brainstorm, create and see things getting *better* through cooperation with others (some of that drive comes from NOT getting to do this now). Or, I want to own or be part of some sort of boutique shop (hmm..antiques, imports, chocolate or cheese I think) that is so successful it runs itself so I don’t have to worry about the stresses of business ownership and can just work creatively. I thought about an historical travel job taking kids to cool/weird places as part of regular curriculum, so I’ve looked at different school systems like how they teach at The Independent Project. I have tons of ideas about teaching kids, but I don’t want to be a “teacher” if that makes sense. Its difficult, though, finding work in in-the-box system where you MUST have an ed degree before you’re allowed to teach. I don’t believe that people who have degrees in their field are necessarily the best at that field. Often we’re limited by what we’re taught is “right.” I guess I’m just done with pointless jobs. Also I thought it would be cool to modify this blog format into some kind of social format for creative *change* in the workplace, like I’m trying to do. Not a job site, but an idea site. But…I have ZIP idea how to go about that.

          Why not a travel blog? Check out The Nomad Grad. She’s got the formula down! Or self publishing? Or contributing to travel sites that publish articles from bloggers?

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