Willow: Carpe diem. You told me that once.
Buffy: Fish of the day?
Willow: Not carp. Carpe. It means “seize the day.”
Hey, so remember last year when I quit my nice HR job to work part-time at an animal shelter? And how most of my family (and probably my friends) thought I had lost my mind? At the time, I knew it was the right decision, even if others in my life didn’t understand it. Still. I’m not going to pretend it was always easy. Money was tight, my schedule was erratic, and I had no idea if this part-time position would ever lead to anything more.
A few months ago, while working with potential adopters, I met someone at the perfect time. Don’t you love how that happens? I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental, the pure happenstance of meeting someone who passes along a lesson you really need to hear, or it’s something our TV-addled brains just put together for us, wanting to turn our lives into a story with a satisfying narrative. But I don’t care. It’s the greatest feeling, meeting someone who turns out to be the exact person you were supposed to talk to that day.
It was a busy day at work, like always. I had been meeting with people all day, was in fact outside in one of the yards introducing some dogs to each other (you know, normal stuff), when someone came to tell me another person was waiting. I went inside to meet him and, through the course of his interview, realized I was talking to one of the nicest people I’d ever met. Like Heather Anne Hogan nice. (Psst, that’s really nice.)
He was there to meet a few dogs, as his dog had died a few months prior. He wasn’t sure he was ready to adopt another dog and was, in fact, still going to a grief support group for the loss of his pet. We talked a bit about Oak Tree Corner then, and how so many people are uncomfortable talking about grief, or even the idea of grief, and how certainly there are people out there who just don’t understand how hard it can be to lose a pet.
He didn’t end up adopting a dog that day, but during our conversation, he asked me how I ended up working there. I explained that I’d been working in HR for a long time but wanted a change, to do something where I felt like I was making a difference in the world.
In all honesty, in the days and weeks before I met this man, I’d begun to wonder if I’d made a mistake leaving HR. It hadn’t really been so bad, had it? It was a nice enough job. The money was better. The hours were better. I’d been thinking, you know, that maybe I should go back. I felt like I wasn’t contributing enough to the household. I wasn’t making as much money as I had been. My hours, I’m sure, were hard on Joe, since I worked most weekends, and often late-ish on Saturdays and, once I got home, I was usually exhausted. Good exhausted, but still exhausted.
Still, I couldn’t imagine going back to HR. It felt like giving up every time I thought about it. And when I mentioned it to this man, this near-stranger I’d met twenty or so minutes before, he said, “Oh, god, no, never go back.” You see, he, too, had once worked in HR, for more years than I had, and he also hated it, so he left and started his own business and never looked back.
“Don’t do it,” he said, looking me right in the eye. “You’ll regret it.”
I don’t know why I accepted this advice. Unsolicited advice usually makes me go homicidal and, in fact, want to do the exact opposite of whatever I’d been told, because apparently I’m still a child. But I think I was able to take it because it was exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it. It’s what I knew to be true, deep down, under all the fear and doubt.
A month later, I interviewed for the job I currently hold, a full-time position (at the same company) that I love. The money and the schedule are better, much more in line with my previous full-time position. The difference now is, I’m so much happier when I’m at work. The days are so busy. There’s so much to do. But I’m EXCITED to be there. I love going to work and there are days when I accidentally stay late because I’ve gotten so distracted by whatever I’m working on that I didn’t realize how much time had passed. AND EVERYONE IS SO NICE. Plus, you know, if I ever need a break, there are plenty of fluffy animals around to distract me.
I used to come home from work full of complaints about the day. It was exhausting, and I’m sure not super fun for Joe to listen to. Now I come home and can’t wait to talk about the wonderful people I work with and the animals I work for. So Joe is still sick of hearing me babble, just for different reasons.
I guess my point is follow your dreams or whatever? Even if you’re scared? I don’t know. I still feel like I’m faking my way through this whole “being an adult” thing most of the time, but I think I’m getting better at it. So there’s hope for anyone, I suppose.