How The Perfect Job Became A Trap

May 16, 2019

Dear Imaginative Woman,

If you’re new here, welcome! For the next few weeks I’ll be telling you the story about how I decided to break free from my Dull Gray Cubicle job.

You can read all the posts in the series here:

Ok, on with the next installment...


Last week I told you how amazing it was when I got my second cubicle job. I told you how I was physically and emotionally burnt out at the time, and how that job came to me at the right moment.

It offered me the time and space to recover from a couple auto-immune system disorders, and it gave me the opportunity to talk to grownups all day instead of 3-4 year old kiddos. This was all new, cool, and perfect!!

But at the end of last week’s letter I hinted at a change. Something happened that made this absolutely perfect job not so perfect anymore.

What happened was I recovered.

My auto-immune system disorders had caused debilitating fatigue. I could barely go for a 10 minute walk.

Then, I got the help I needed. I followed new food and supplement prescriptions, and I sat at a desk, resting, instead of running around all day.

One year later, the fatigue lifted.

Being sick for so long made me forget I was a naturally energetic person. This was why I was great at teaching young kids. That type of work takes a lot of energy.

When I recovered, all my natural energy came back, but instead of being at a job where I used all that energy, I found myself sitting at a desk staring at spreadsheets all day.

Suddenly, instead of feeling restful and expansive, I felt restless and cramped inside my Dull Gray Cubicle.

My DGC job was the perfect space to help me recover. It came at just the right time, but now, my season of sitting was over. It was time to leave.

But instead of leaving, I stayed in my DGC job for 7 more years.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls this “staying overlong". I love this phrase, because that is what I did. I stayed overlong, and I did this for a very specific reason:

Even though my soul knew it was time to go, I did not believe it was possible to leave.

Here's why: 

  • For the first time ever I had a paycheck big enough to pay my bills without a constant knot in my stomach, and I believed the only other jobs for me would be like the ones I had before, the ones that paid too little.
  • My family was finally proud of me for doing a normal job and making a normal amount of money, and I believed their opinions mattered more than my happiness.
  • I had told everyone how perfect this job was, and I was embarrassed to all of a sudden hate a job I had bragged so much about. I believed I couldn’t tell everyone it wasn’t working out.
  • I lived in a rural area, and there was a cultural belief that my organization was “the only game in town." I believed this was literally the only job I could get in my area.

So I stayed, even when my soul started to wilt inside of me, and the more I stayed, the further my soul retreated, until all the energy, which had come back, retreated as well.

I became an exhausted, dry husk, who didn’t know who she was anymore.

I became stuck, trapped, and disconnected. I desperately yearned to leave, but I saw no way out.


Read Part 3 - When Magic Happened In My Dull Gray Cubicle



Do What You Are Meant To Do


For when you're totally freaking out about being stuck in your Dull Gray Cubicle job forever!!!