That was back in late January. Fast forward to April and now I'm sure that this position is not the way I want to move forward. I fought urges to quit (which occurred almost immediately and then continuously), but kept at it long enough to realize that while parts of it are quite easy, it still wasn't right. At the same time I learned some important things about what I do and don't want to be spending time on right now.
I liked the feeling of being productive again, and by that I mean that even if I didn't love the work, it felt good to have worked, earned, accomplished things. I liked meeting some new people, and adding some knowledge and complexity to my life in Houston. I liked it when I understood what was going on; when I knew I had done something correctly, and I was reminded how every time we start something new, we push that feeling of accomplishment farther away.
I tried to be very clear and objective about what I did not like, or what was a mixed bag. I am seeking the balance between holding out for what feels right, and realizing that every job has things I won't like, and at a certain point I just need to decide which of the things I don't like I can still live with in order to do strong work. The baby on the way makes that priority even more clear. As tricky as it is to figure out how to have a flexible, mobile and rewarding work life while married to unpredictable oil and gas, pulling that off with a baby will require me to be extra firm and clear about how to use my time.
In the spirit of all that...I liked learning about being "self-employed" (which contractors are in the eyes of the IRS), but I was not wild about doing that for another person's company. I think if I try that again, it will be for my own vision, my schedule, my rules...ideally my own company. I liked working from home (i.e. without an office), but I found it difficult to learn the job without any nearby colleagues or any group time. I was also not impressed by how little paid training was offered. Much of the anxiety that I experienced could have been reduced by a more professional training environment. However, as far as training goes, many companies do not invest in quality paid training, so that by itself does not feel like a valid grudge to hold against this particular group.
The two most significant conclusions I reached, which caused me to alter my course in a way that I think is for the better, were driven by the practical consideration of schedule and by gut reaction and reflection. With regard to schedule, I learned that due to the other moving parts of my life (a husband who will be away as much as fifty percent of the time, starting any week now, and a baby coming sooner than I can believe), I was not comfortable with a truly unpredictable schedule. I can live with not having a routinely predictable paycheck, but it was unpleasant to be going about my business and then asked with little or no notice if I was free to accept a client, and then after having accepted them, to never know exactly for the next few weeks when I would be needed periodically by them. I found this experience harrowing even without having to worry about childcare yet. It was also making me hate my phone and inbox. In light of that, I am not interested in spending my final baby-free months learning how to get better at the job I knew I wouldn't go back to later.
The other revelation was that I did not feel happy with the idea of adding yet another new dimension to my resume. I have spent a large amount of time learning how to teach English to non-English speakers, and I have also spent a substantial amount of time learning the foundation of clothing development and design. Instead of starting down an entirely new path, for the time being, I want to stick to my guns on looking for work only related to those fields for now.
I have moved my English teaching materials across this continent several times, and each time I have not been able to bring myself to donate the books. I have had the thought that before I leave Houston, I want to either have donated them, or made them again useful in my life. I am equally reluctant to relegate sewing, illustration or design to the mere hobby designation; it's still not clear to me what to do with those skills, but I know I haven't gotten far enough in yet to be certain that I can't use them.
So. I'm wrapping up my final relocation clients this month, and I've positioned myself on the substitute and tutoring list at a local English language learning center. I've also been working on some new sketches and a new pattern, for the first time in months in these strange and confusing months. I'm behind on my sketching and sewing goals for the year, but I know it's not too late to catch up.