Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When merely working for a living is no longer your idea of living

A shot from my first gig shooting maternity
Photo credit: ME!
If I think about it, I’ve always had a creative side and the roots of my creativity run deep. My family tree is chock full of fairly successful artists, musicians, photographers; a multitude of ingenious talent.  So really, I guess I’m finding it a tad peculiar that it’s taken me almost 30 whole years to finally have the nerve to reach down into the very depths of me, pull that creativity out, blow the dust off and polish it up real nice for it to be put to good use.

It took a bad marriage to the wrong person and its fast and painful demise, becoming a single mother to the most precious gift there can ever be and being stuck in a stagnant career of almost seven years for me to get to this place. This place of overwhelming desire to start over and to do so in a way that is nothing but wonderful.

I've realized that I don’t want to just work for a living. Instead, I want to live while I work. And I want to enjoy living.

I want to use my creativity to do something fulfilling. I want to start over wonderful in so many aspects and my career and what I do to bring home the bacon shouldn't be excluded in this self-renovation process.  I don’t want to be 50 years old and still working full-time in the same exact job that I’m working now. I might as well have stayed in my shitfest of a marriage, because the eventual death of me would be the same essentially. In the end.

And I need more than that.

I deserve more. I owe it to myself.

Someday. That's what I keep telling myself. But not in that sing-song-voice people use when they don't actually mean it. I say "someday" with a mean, punctuated and fierce determination. 

Actually, I’m a prime example of why 18 years-young, fresh high-school graduates should not bolt off to top-notch colleges with price tags of $30-40K/year, gaily declared as majoring in “Biomedical Engineering” for pursuit of a life-long career doing whatever it is that biomedical engineers do. In case you don’t already know, I have an engineering degree but I am not employed as a real engineer.  Instead, I examine patent applications for methods and devices of biomedical engineering applications for the U.S. Patent Office.  

Note, this blog and the opinions expressed therein are my own and do not reflect those of the federal government, the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Patent Office or any sub-entities or employees thereof. (I’ve been waiting to find a place to stick that bureaucratic clause!)

In a nutshell, I decide whether or not other people’s engineering marvels are worthy of patent protection under the principles of patent law (trust me; it’s really not that interesting so cool ya jets … and no, I don’t want to hear about the super “invention” you've coined up in your garage). Becoming a patent examiner wasn’t a life-long dream of mine; rather, it was one of the few career options I had available to me upon realizing I had earned a degree (with some heavy-duty student loans tied to it) in a field I had zero desire of actually practicing.      

Admission: when my step-dad first suggested I pursue engineering during the whole college search of high-school’s Junior Year, I scoffed “I don’t want to drive trains” because that’s how dense I was at the time. Book smarts? -- done and done. Common sense? -- a work in progress. Shamefully, when it truly came down to deciding between liberal arts and what was being dubbed as the more “practical” options by those guiding me, I chose practical with dollar signs in my eyes thinking that by pursuing engineering, I had a greater chance of striking it rich. What I would eventually learn, in addition to differential equations, how-to-kick-ass at beruit (if you call it beer-pong, I will cut you) and the total suckage of student loans, was that I would rather slowly gauge my eyes out with a jagged piece of glass over the span of a 40-year career than actually work as an engineer day in and day out over said same length of time. Yes, I graduated with a 3.0 from a top-notch school while simultaneously working 30/hours a week and partying just as much. But did I enjoy engineering? To say, “not at all” would be a horrific understatement.

So, currently, I’m working as a patent examiner for going on seven years now. It pays the bills and as a divorcing woman, that’s imperative for the foreseeable future.   For the record, I do enjoy the job most of the time and I am fairly decent at it. There are a lot of perks (did I mention that I work from home 100 percent of the time?) and the benefits and stability of government work are unmatched in this economy. I don’t anticipate leaving the job within the next decade. I do, however, anticipate loathing its utter lack of creative expression well before my 40th birthday looms.  

Before that happens, though, I have a plan. I’m building this blog in addition to my freelance photography start-up founded in the midst of my separation. Next comes a professional website for the integration of both and some possible marketing. My five-year goal is to have enough success somewhere with my creative endeavors where I can maybe drop down to being a patent examiner part-time versus full time.

I'm making this proclamation here as a sort of personal contract with myself. You know, that oddity where things seem more "real" or "true" when you can read them in 12 pt font? 

If I continue to turn out exquisite work like I did this past week during my first real maternity photo session, I'll be that much more confident that my plan is a realistic one with an extraordinary amount of potential. That’s what I call wonderful. How about you?

Another shot from my first gig shooting maternity
Photo Credit: again, ME! :)


  1. I love this!! You are truly passionate about photography and if you can transition into a full time gig, that would be awesome. That is partially why I love doing this barre n9ne certification on the side...I know it will never pay the bills but I am passionate about it and it offsets some of the mundane of the everyday job (and my job is partially social media too, something I am passionate about too). It's a good balance to do something you are passionate about and something that 'pays the bills."

    1. Yes, it is good balance to do something you are passionate about while also trudging through the mundane to bring home that bacon.

      My ultimate goal though is to bring home the bacon doing what I am passionate about -- 86 the mundane! I plan on a gradual transition from full-time patent examiner and newbie freelance professional photographer (now), to part-time patent examiner and self-employed freelance professional photographer(5 years from now at a maximum), to one day just a self-employed freelance professional photographer (before I turn 40).

      Starting over wonderful ... well, it's a process. A journey. It is sure to be a wild and crazy ride, I'm sure. ;)

  2. I am a big fan of having personal contracts w/ myself! Good for you. And I think your first photo shoot looks pretty awesome.

    1. Thank you! If you're interested, there are more images from the shoot here:

  3. Good for you! Good to have a plan/goals! It's real easy to get lost in the emotion/minutia of divorce. Have a plan definitely helps. Keep at it...

    Nice photos, btw...

    1. Thank you! (BTW, I don't know why I didn't see this comment sooner; I try and stay on top of that!)


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