Unsure of purpose

I am unsure of my purpose.

There is no other real explanation. I am one year away from completing a degree, and I am not even sure whether I’ll use it.

Is it my fallback position? Is it where I’ll retreat should real life get too hard? Or is it what I’ll love doing until the end of my days – or at least until my mid-life crisis.

I suspect I feel this way because I have slowly come to the realization that my old job made me ill. There was nothing distasteful about it – it was a fine job, but the prospect of having to stay there forever was making me ill.

I had no problems when I was there as a casual worker, but when I was promoted to a full-time position, I got sick.

I had accepted the casual position because it provided me with paid experience – something I was lacking – and an entry on my resume. They would pay me for my work and I would look for a permanent job in my preferred area. However, I ended up working at the same branch full-time, and TPTB decided to convert my position into a full-time permanent position. After the standard interview process, I was notified that I was the successful applicant. Sidebar: the other woman who was in the same position I was in was not successful in applying for her own job.

At the time I was pleased, because I still had a job, I worked at a branch that was friendly and fun, and I had full entitlements. However it wasn’t the job. My dream job. So I continued looking – less overtly, but I kept on.

Tasks were moved around and I ended up doing a lot – when tasks changed 12 months later, the ones that I had were given to two people. Over time, I developed a rash on my inner arm, my acne flared in the worst way and I had difficulty swallowing my lunch as there was a lump in my throat.

At no point did I recognize these as symptoms of stress. Why on earth would I be stressed? My job was not stressful – it was long hours, never ended, I ate lunch at my desk and I often worked late, but it wasn’t as if people’s lives were at stake.

In September 2000, I went on holiday – my first in 18 months. I took 3 weeks and went to see my sister and brother-in-law in Canada and used the last week to visit New York City. 10 days in to my holiday my rash vanished. I went to scratch it one day, and realized that not only did it no longer itch, it wasn’t even there. With the help of some lotion stuff, my acne cleared up (Ooooh. Funny story about that. Remind me to tell you some other day). Also, the only time I ever developed a lump in my throat was when I was supposed to – when I was crying.

I came back, we had the regular task swap and things quieten down, health wise.

I went to Melbourne on holiday in May 2001. In July 2001, I developed lumps in my neck. They drew blood, did tests. Nothing, no glandular fever, nothing. They did a biopsy of the biggest lump (which thankfully shrank it some) diagnosed reactive lymph nodes, but to be sure they sent me to a specialist. He checked me over and confirmed the diagnosis. Somehow, something had gotten into my bloodstream and settled in my lymph nodes.

It was when the specialist asked me, by way of small talk, what I did for a living and whether I enjoyed it, and I collapsed into tears that I realised that something was wrong.

I gave myself a deadline of September 2001. By that time I had to decide what to do. Resign or transfer? One of our regular patrons noticed that something was ‘up’ with me, and I confided my dilemma. She suggested going to university and upgrading my qualifications from para-professional technical college to professional/degree level. I realised that I was far more likely to get a job in my preferred field if I had university qualifications.

I called the uni 15 minutes later.

I submitted my application in October, and arranged for a short camping trip to break up the time between when I applied and January, when I was to find out whether I had been accepted. Two days before the trip I received a package from the Uni’s early admissions office. I didn’t even know they had early admissions.

I enrolled on December 10th, and resigned from my position effective February 7th.

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