You Can’t Have It All… or Can You?

String Lights over Mellwood Courtyard

You Can’t Have It All... or Can You?

Finding career satisfaction, stability, and job security Is possible

At some point in life, we have all heard from the gospels of stability and job security; perhaps we have even preached it ourselves. But if there is one common thread or theme from our tenants here at Mellwood it is this: stability and security are not adequate substitutes for career satisfaction. In striving for perceived safety, concessions are made. Some opt to find a “safe” gig doing something they are interested in. Others may choose to avoid following their passions entirely. The latter was the case for Karli from Massage on Mellwood.

What initially started as a part-time job while going to JCTC became a full-time position. Looking to ease some of the burdens she carried, Karli dropped out of JCTC and focused solely on her job in data entry and logistics. She appreciated the stability it provided her and her daughter and liked the people she worked with, but it was not something she felt any passion for. Believing it was impossible to work hard and derive satisfaction from it, she continued with this job for six years before deciding to change careers.

Similarly, William, also from Massage on Mellwood, went into a career he was not particularly interested in. After working as a server for two years, he agreed to go into restaurant management following multiple requests from his superiors. While it was less pay, it still paid well enough and provided greater long-term prospects. Although it was not something he had any interest in, he did initially enjoy his job. Over time, that enthusiasm dwindled to indifference and, ultimately, dread. The stresses of the job became increasingly harder to deal with. To cope, William regularly turned to massage. Eventually, William recognized the emotional and physical toll this job was taking on him, and decided it was time to explore a new career path.

It would be tempting to believe conventional wisdom surrounding employment holds true for those who manage to find a stable job in their field of interest, but this is not always true.

Prior to becoming a massage therapist and starting Massage on Mellwood with William and Karli, Tina was a social worker. While social work is a field wrought with stress, Tina had a strong desire to help others, which provided meaning for the work she did. For Tina, the stress became a problem as she rose through the ranks. While society encourages us to strive for this, it removed Tina from doing the kind of work that brought her into the field in the first place. As she advanced in her career, she was eventually placed in a managerial position overseeing 150 people. With her stress levels at an all-time high, Tina left social work.

Massage on Mellwood: Staff picture

​Initially working as an academic advisor, Jamie enjoyed helping students explore their interests, select their classes, and ultimately start them on their career paths. While Jamie’s greatest passion is art, she was regularly discouraged from pursuing it as a career. She saw academic advising as a good compromise between following her passions and her desire for a stable job. Outside of her job as an academic advisor, Jamie had started The Resource Room, which combined her interest in art with her desire to help people discover their best selves and promote personal growth. Being placed on furlough due to the pandemic this past summer proved to be the turning point for Jamie. After making all the right moves, following a more conventional career course, getting the degrees, and landing the job, Jamie watched as the security she thought she had begin to erode. She knew it was time to make her part-time passion project her full-time focus.

Resource Room: Jamie Shepherd

​For Reba of Reba Renee Design Studio, graphic design is still her passion. After discovering the field in college while working part-time at Café Press, she doggedly pursued it as a career. In the years after college, Reba worked as a graphic designer for two different advertising agencies. Unfortunately, agency life was too rigid, restricting, and ultimately hindered her productivity. Reba found it impossible to grow her career the way she wanted. Thankfully, she had always done some freelance work on the side, which allowed her to find her desired career path. Eventually, Reba was able to leave the agency life for good and start her own graphic design business.

Reba from Reba Renee Design Studio

When all is said and done, career satisfaction is as important a factor as job security or stability. While many of us are willing to sacrifice that satisfaction, in part or entirely, it is an unnecessary one. As each of our five tenants can attest, it is possible to have security and stability while finding joy in the work they do. It is a risk, and our tenants admit as much, but sticking with a job or career which only brings misery carries its own risks with less to show for it.