I always thought that by the time I entered my thirties, I would be established in a steady career that provided me a comfortable income and a strong measure of satisfaction. But that hasn’t happened yet. Ever since I received my degree in 2008, I have been trying to figure out what are my strongest talents and how to utilize those talents to bring in a steady income. In the process, I have written and published a book, created a blog that chronicles the history of the Crusades, – a project that is still a work in progress – worked in retail, worked at a bed and breakfast, have been to Europe twice in attempt to teach English and, most recently, have worked as a landscaper. I should also mention that I am taking a photography course online through the Photography Institute.
I have built up so many skills that are transferable to different jobs, had so many amazing experiences and have discovered myself in the process. Yet, over the past few months, I have felt deeply unsatisfied and unhappy. The following thoughts kept going through my mind: I’m thirty-two and I haven’t accomplished a single thing in my life. Everything I’ve done has never worked out well for me. I am so lost; I have all these ideas for what I want to do with my life, but I just can’t find the vocation that’s right for me.
True, some things didn’t go well and so I’ve had to start all over again. Though not everything I’ve done in my life has led to failure. I used to always look on the bright side of things, through the good times and the bad, but over the past few months, negative thoughts kept creeping into my brain. They rendered me powerless, sending me in a downward spiral into depression.
I have struggled with depression in the past, but I have conquered it and I know I can do it again. However, in order to do so, I have to acknowledge the root of the problem.
Last year, I worked as a landscape gardener for a small company. I was so excited to be able to work outdoors, doing physical work and getting fit while learning about various plants and how to properly care for them. While I succeeded in reaching my fitness goals (one thing I’m very pleased about) I was gravely disappointed in the overall experience. The employer I had was cold, condescending at times and often spent much of her energy re-doing my work rather than teaching me a better way to garden. She also didn’t seem to take much pride in her own work and very seldom had anything nice to say about anything or anyone. I ended up spending most of the season pulling weeds, raking leaves and mowing lawns.
Needless to say – and not to belittle the above mentioned tasks – at the end of the season, I was left feeling extremely resentful towards my ex-boss, angry over the fact that I have learnt next to nothing about gardening over the ten-month span of the landscaping season, and bitter knowing that that entire experience was a setback in my life, financially and otherwise. All of those feelings combined created the depression and emptiness I have felt over the winter months.
I didn’t want to work as a landscaper this year because of the dismal experience I had last year. Yet, I can’t deny that I enjoy this type of work.
After a little bit of job experimentation, trying my hand at commercial painting, something I’m completely unfamiliar with, I decided to give landscaping another go. I just started working for another company, this time doing actual landscaping: cleaning out and expanding garden beds, perennial splitting (I learnt that technique on my first day) and transplanting them. The work is harder and I still have to tough out the rain, but I am finding it very satisfying and rewarding. My new boss is also friendlier and open to passing on his knowledge of horticulture and garden care techniques to me.
I am beginning to feel happier, yet at times, I still wish that I could bring more to this new job in terms of knowledge and experience. Though, I can’t change what has happened. All I can do is pick up the pieces and move forward while keeping an open mind and heart. I also need to stop thinking about the past and think instead about a future that’s filled with new opportunities, new connections, friends, happiness and prosperity.
I can’t give up and run away every time I have a bad experience and I refuse to let one bad apple spoil something that could be great. I don’t yet know if I will make landscaping a long-term career, but I do want to immerse myself in horticulture and learn the trade well. That is reason enough to stick with landscaping for a length of time.