I love my job. The combination of teaching and research is both enjoyable and stimulating. I work in a young vibrant department in which we have a good balance between wisdom and a willingness for change to happen. In organic chemistry we work well together as a team, and I am blessed with generous and able colleagues. My research is slowly gaining traction. Most importantly, I really do believe that I am in the place most suited to my particular giftedness.
And yet, for the last few months I have struggled. I have felt tired and frustrated. I haven’t quite been able to isolate the source of my malaise, but as most of the niggles have been associated with my job, I have found myself wondering about that. Maybe the job isn’t such a good fit after all. This is not to say that I was seriously thinking about quitting and trying something else, but rather I engaged in a nebulous grappling with the idea that my perfect job was maybe not so perfect after all. Occasionally I would find myself thinking, if not this, then what?
And then, earlier this week I realised that the problem lay not with my job, it lay with me. The job isn’t perfect, but then I don’t think any environment is. My issue over the last few months is that I haven’t enjoyed the way in which I have engaged with the various tasks that I need to attend to. I have been a little off the boil, and feeling less than enthusiastic about my capacity to engage has left me feeling disappointed and frustrated. What I failed to notice was that my general disease was actually about myself in the environment. I presumed it was a function of the environment itself.
In the last week through two very different sources, I have been able to get in touch with my passion again. And that in itself, has been sufficient to energise me just a little. As I have attended to the ideas which were brought back into the light through those encounters, I have found yet more energy. I remember now why I love my job.
It was a shock to me to recognise that I was quite willing to blame my job for my sense of discontent, when the real source of discontent was myself. It makes me wonder how often I do that – how often I blame something in my immediate environment when really it is my internal process. It makes me wonder how often people do that: Changing jobs or relationships when the real issue is internal.
It reminds me of the wisdom of Ignatius – don’t try and make major decisions when you are in desolation! The time in the well of frustration is not the right moment to begin thinking about making a life shaping choice. Wait for the clouds to clear, find the even keel and then, if appropriate, make a change.