05 February, 2013

Predictable vs challenging

In recent weeks I've felt some uneasiness. Almost unsettledness, mostly about my editing job, but also about my life in general. Me being as I am, I've thought a bit about this strange feeling, trying to analyse why.

It isn't that I'm unhappy with the job. It isn't that I have something else I'd rather be doing. It certainly isn't that things are tough at the moment.

In fact, we've gotten to a point with the magazine that things are stabilising. The magazine (and my role with it) has undergone huge changes in the last couple of years. Much of this isn't visible to our readers. But the way we put the magazine together, and the standard we are holding ourselves and our writers to, has changed enormously.

I don't have anything else I'd rather be doing at present. I'm very happy with this role and nothing else is beckoning with serious temptation.

But as I've thought about it, I've realised a couple of things about me.

Us, 12  years ago when we stood on the cusp of many
years of frequent change.
1. Since I left university, I have never had a job or a primary task (eg. full-time language school) for longer than a couple of years. Aside from parenting, but that changes frequently anyway. There are good reasons for this, but now isn't the time to go into them. I've been a missionary for more than 12 years now, but "missionary" is like saying "Occupational Therapist", it is more of a vocation or a profession, than a job.

2. I relish a challenge. I've been a part of instigating big changes in the magazine. But most of the big change is past now. That alters how I look at the job.

Not just the magazine, but life in general for us has entered a very predictable pattern. I can predict pretty accurately, that we'll be heading off to cross-country meets in September, for example, or that May, though there isn't often much on the calendar at the start of the month, will be very busy.

I guess you can get too used to change? We've had a bit of a wild ride, the last 15 years. Lots of change. Is it possible for me now to settle down more?

Of course next June (2014) we have another change. We'll be headed back to Australia for 12 months. But this too we've done before. Two years after we get back from our year in Australia we'll have another big change: our son will graduate from high school. But that is too far away to bear thinking much about at the moment when he's only 13.

I feel like a recovering adrenaline junkie or something. Why am I missing big challenges to get my teeth into? That seems crazy, especially when these things stress me often to the point of health issues.

I'm sure this phase will pass. I'm sure I'll find other things to keep me occupied and ever present. I can't live for the next "exciting" or "scary" thing.

I find it fascinating, though, because I'm really pretty much a creature of habit. I like things fairly predictable in my daily life (I've had pretty much the same things for breakfast for many, many years now). However, obviously I also need a bit of challenge in my life to keep me from getting bored.

How about you? Have you found your own balance between predictable and challenging? I'm thinking it is probably at a different place for everyone? I've heard of the "two or three year itch" for people who've been transferred regularly in the past, or grew up in families with the same. Is this something you're familiar with?


Ken Rolph said...

There's an old principle: know how to be full and how to be empty.

For the first 11 years of our married life we lived in 9 places. The early years involved frequent change of jobs as well. Lately we've lived in the same place for about a quarter of a century. I wouldn't have swapped either, and I think we did them in the right order.

Challenges can come from outside or from inside you. You are young enough to expect challenges to come from others. When you get as old as me you'll have to set your own. Just remember that adrenaline junkies don't always handle the end of life really well.

Wendy said...

Thanks Ken. What I didn't say, was that the last 15 years of my life has been so different to the first 20 or so years. I lived in only three houses until I left home at 17 and all of those within a few kilometres of each other in the same town. I went to two schools and the one church all my school life.

I don't think I am inherently an adrenaline junkie. Hence the health challenges I have when life gets too stressful (or adrenaline-full). But it does seem that I've gotten a bit used to change.