Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How Changing Jobs Is Like Growing Up

Here I am in full-on wizard gear. This is meant to be Gandolf.


My New Job

This past week I changed jobs. It's a minor move down the hall, but I will be working with different people, and I had to clear out my old desk and re-locate everything. Just the process of moving can be a bit sad because it makes the change much more real. While I was moving everything, I also found a few note cards I'd written when I first started working there that helped me keep everyone straight. Now, I know these people so well that the very idea of those note cards is completely ridiculous, but finding them made me remember there was actually a time when I didn't know these people at all.

The sort of sad and teary way I felt to leave behind my old desk and the people I worked with made me think about just how common big (and even bigger) changes like that are as you grow up. I write middle grade and young adult fiction, and I was thinking that those Big Moments that really affect you are much more frequent in childhood and young adulthood, and maybe that's part of what attracts me to those ages.

The Traumas of Growing Up

As you grow up, you start school. Talk about a jarring experience. You start spending your days somewhere completely different from what you were used to, and now you're thrown in with a bunch of people you don't know but still have to get along with. Then, from year to year, that group of people might completely change. The friends you make might move or just not be in your class any longer. The teachers will definitely change. Some will be amazing. Some will not. Then there are summers. Summer camps with whole new groups of people you meet, make friends with, then potentially never see again.

Ugh. Middle school. Talk about a big change. A whole new group of people you don't know, and you're all thrown together along with changing class schedules and changing homework/extracurricular expectations. Then high school is another big, scary step. All during this changing scenery you're expected to start figuring out who you are, who you care about, how to interact with the opposite sex, and what you want to do with your life.

And then comes one of the scariest things you'll ever do. Graduate. Suddenly you're expected to make some pretty big decisions and chances are you won't have a single friend along for the ride. You're even stripped of the stability of home (most people have a stable life at home, and I hope you do too), AND you're expected to make some huge decisions about what you want to do with the rest of your life.

So there is all that fear and sadness about the things you're leaving behind and the decisions you have to make. But there is also huge potential there. Growing up is one of the scariest things you'll ever do, but it's also one of the most exciting. I think that may be why I am so drawn to young adult and middle grade fiction (plus the books are usually more fun). Those big moments of discovery and change are ones that really impact you on an emotional level.

The Fairly Positive Conclusion

In the end, I think this change of jobs will be better for my career (if becoming a novelist doesn't work out), and I think I will enjoy the new job more. So it was sad and I'll miss stuff about the old job, but I think the change is for the best.

It's incredibly like growing up.

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