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What’s after a Dream Job? – One writer’s story of a fight against compromise

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A signature I was about to scribble that foggy December evening could have been the worst mistake of my life. I was curled up in a comfort of my editorial office, handwriting the letter I never thought I’d write. Two and a half years here went by so fast; I don’t think I blinked. I was too busy looking at a fantastic world created by my pleas to the Universe, cordial circumstances, and just enough talent to make it possible. When I say dream job, I mean it; there was absolutely nothing I desired more in life. And the resignation letter under my fingertips was about to end all this.

But fast rewind to two years ago: I was a fashion editor at one of the largest international fashion magazines in Russia, writing blurbs and stories, scouting and forecasting trends, flying all over the world to look at clothes, be nice, and interview people. As frilly as it sounds, to me it was more than a pretty job with many perks. It was something I longed for. Magazines accompanied my life throughout my childhood into my teens, and beyond.

First, there were illustrated issues of the 60’s with torn pages and my mom’s pre-teen doodles in colored pencils; next, the very first Russian issues of every magazine imaginable, teen, adult, whatever. I read them all from cover to cover. For a girl from Siberia, it was not about shopping guides or people I knew. No. Instead, it was my first tangible contact with an outside world, a beautiful world full of vision, creativity, and passion. For a long time, I had zero access to brands featured on those pages. So, magazines were a dizzying roller coaster of opportunities that had little to do with me at first, but then all started to gain shape. Magazines awoke my creativity as well: if I couldn’t buy an outfit I liked, I had to come up with a similar look by shopping my closet.

Years later, when I already made it as an editor, I realized I was one of a handful of people in the country who bought, let alone read magazines. Still, I was writing for that girl somewhere in Siberia hoping to give her a whiff of fresh air and courage to create her reality.

And now I was trading all this, for what? They say love is the answer. After my, then a boyfriend, now a husband, got a job in New York, I made some arrangements and shortly followed suit. Dream job or not, I couldn’t bring myself to pass up on love.

You may be wondering, what is this “dream job” she is talking about? Isn’t it a job where you make a lot of money, get promoted, and do whatever it is you are supposed to be doing? Well, perhaps, it is, for some. But not for me.

A Dream Job is what makes your heart beat faster despite challenges and deadlines; it is what you do best; it is who you are.

A Dream Job is the one you identify with; you don’t morph into someone else when doors of an office shut behind you. A Dream Job is what makes your heart beat faster despite challenges and deadlines; it is what you do best; it is who you are. With a Dream Job, there are no compromises. It is what you would’ve been doing anyways, late at night, at the break of dawn, instead of hanging out with friends, on vacation. It is intense and demanding, but it makes you whole. If you haven’t found an activity like this yet, start looking. Because these Dream Jobs are the ones that make your career life worthy.

Being a darling in my dream job has built up my confidence as a writer, and I expected to jump right back into the pool. What I didn’t think through was that my tools of the trade literally didn’t translate all that well into my new reality. Words, clauses, wordplay that used to be my dear friends in Russian were replaced by a mean baffling crowd in English.

As if you would have suddenly lost your voice. I communicated, wrote emails, pitches and press releases for the job, but the spark was gone. With vocabulary aplenty, I no longer had the tools, context, tricks and treats of the language that I made my trade. It was as if a promising software engineer wound up in the world without computers.

By changing countries, I had to learn a new set of rules, both of the language and of the ways things work. I had to accept those rules, and I had to start working very hard to get back to where I landed earlier by pure chance.

At first I convinced myself that it’s time to move on, as smart people do; I would choose an industry with more money, faster growth, and less struggle. I landed in PR, in which I somehow have a degree. How naive.

Compromising without knowing is easy. But once you’ve been in your own stratosphere, anything that doesn’t strike the same strings of awe and flow is a painful in-your-face compromise. I felt my soul twist and turn confined in my body and became a rather unpleasant person to be around. Compromising makes the wrong job much harder to do, but it was still dreadful to take a leap, especially as a voiceless one.

But it must be done. Hypnotized by the soaring cost of living and temptation of fashions, sales, and supermarkets, we so often forget one simple truth: You will never be as good at a job you do for money or status as you could have been at a job that is you. (I am not talking about a job that you love because love is ridiculously biased, we love an excess of things that don’t deserve it.)

You will never be as good at a job you do for money or status as you could have been at a job that is you.

In other words, do what you love, work hard — and in the case of a Dream job, you won’t be able to do otherwise — and success will come, followed by money and status. I’ve been there, so I know it for a fact.

Future unfolds in a spiral, and although I had to prove myself all over again, the twists of my past and present did not cross. Instead, they carved onto the next level, with upped resistance and better view.

From the excruciating bliss and comfort of my dream job it probably would have taken me much longer to work up the nerve to start writing about things that not only inspire, but truly matter and can actually help. So sometimes, writing a letter of resignation, or daring the change – even when it means walking away from your Dream Job – can be your ticket to the next level.

Photo credit: Emilien ETIENNE (Flickr)

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