Making a Change

I’m making a change. It’s time.

I’m not someone who likes change, to be honest. Something about it is unsettling to me, like not having a place to call home. Change generally makes me uneasy, and I avoid it if possible.

The result, and maybe I’m not alone here, is that changes I do make tend to be spaced farther apart. And when they happen, they’re often significant and sudden.

So that said, I’ve decided that it’s time to make a change — last week, I gave notice at my job. Oct. 12, 2005, will be my last day.

The job I’m leaving, as a reporter and editor, is by no means a “bad” job. In fact, it’s a situation in which I’m being given more responsibility and freedom to create a publication and direct coverage. So it’s not a bad job, and in fact it is a good job, with good people in a good environment.

But despite that, it’s simply time for a change.

For the last five years, almost the entire time I’ve lived in Washington, I’ve worked in energy journalism. I’ve covered electricity and natural gas companies, issues and markets — important things, but also subjects I’m not exactly passionate about. Earnings statements are not high excitement, and regulatory filings all pretty much look alike.

So I’ve decided it’s time for a change. I’ve stayed in the field for five years, between two mergers and three companies, not because I cared deeply for the subject but because the situation was just so easy to be in.

It’s difficult to make a change when everything is good. The job I’m leaving helped make everything good, and so it’s a tough decision to make. But at the same time, I want very much to care about my work — I want my days filled with things that define me.

And so I’m leaving my job, making a sudden change. I have a couple of projects I want to work on, including a documentary photo project in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C. More on this later.

Leaving feels strange. Maybe because it’s just not what you’re “supposed” to do. Maybe because there’s safety in numbers, and I don’t want to feel alone. I worry about money.

A smarter me, perhaps, would have made a different change. Looked for work in photography, or art, or continued to work the same job while I also developed these projects. But for whatever reason, maybe just laziness with myself, I find myself unable to do this.

I’m bad at change, you see. A body in motion stays in motion; a body content at an editing job tends to stay that way also. I find myself too rooted in one place to make a small change, oddly. The only answer seems to be bigger, sudden and scarier change.

So I gave my notice. I have some savings and the hope that my photography will bring in income. I play poker, sometimes well enough to win. And that’s what will get my by for a while.

This is not a sustainable plan, as is. But life in general is not sustainable, either. And at 29 years old I’m faced with an opportunity I created for myself. It can’t last forever, not in the current formless-form, but I’ve decided to step away from what I’ve been doing and follow the things which make me think and ramble and care.

So the short version is this: I’m leaving my job to spend between six months and a year doing documentary photography in my neighborhood. I want to show the changes occurring in the place where I live.

But it’s more than that

7 Comments so far

  1. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

    Making the jump from safety (employment) into insecurity (unemployment/self-employment) is one of the hardest things someone can do. It’s something I’m struggling with as I consider taking my own leap. Good luck, Robert, and welcome to Metroblogging DC!

  2. Don (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 1:05 pm

    Don’t worry, nobody is good at change. Good luck. I wouldn’t trade the years I spend working for myself/being under-employed/doing my own thing for the world. I’m enjoying consistent paychecks these days but I keep my eye out for what I’ll do on my next excursion away from 9to5land and it’ll inevitably happen.

  3. Christian (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 1:17 pm

    Congratulations! I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of this project. Sounds very cool.

    I made the plunge back in 2000, and was fairly successfully self-employed for four years. It was great, although I have returned a somewhat more mainstream employment status in the past year. My Achilles’ heel? Taxes. Somehow, they can cause problems for you even when you’re hardly making any money. Be prepared — and good luck!

  4. Jenn L (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 1:57 pm

    Good luck, and welcome!

    I really admire your courage. I made a similar leap a year or so ago when I left my cushy job and went back to school. It was terrifying and exhilarating. But that feeling of doing the right thing for you is wonderful. :)

  5. JennB (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 2:02 pm

    You’re basically living my dream (just substitute writing for photography). You’re a great example for those of us who either can’t do what you’re doing or are too chicken to. Good luck!

  6. Victorianne (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 2:05 pm

    Good luck to you! I left my comfort zone a few months ago and took a HUGE leap of faith to a brand new field. It’s worked out well for me and given me the enthusiasm I was missing in my old job.

  7. webjedi (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 2:08 pm

    I see your predicament.

    I’m at a crossroads myself. I’m quite fed up with the “briningness” of the day to day at my job, moving further away from what I’m truly good at, and more into the stuffy world of report generating, meetings, and general lack of anything exciting.

    Luckily, somebody here pointed to the DC 501 Tech Club mailing list. Somebody posted a job opening, I inquired, came away with a good contact, and even helped out a bit with his company’s technical issue at hand. It was invigorating since it was techie troubleshooting, which I’m good at. I miss those days… it’s like college days but all over.

    I have one of those (actually many) side projects that you speak of. One of them is actually doing somewhat well, enough so, that my business partner quit his job and is contributing full-time and started spawning his web design business off of it (I’m the techie “back-end” architect). I wished I coudl do the jump, but credit card, mortgage, and car payments keep me away from making the leap right now. I wish you, Robert, the best.

    Stuff will happen… just be patient… or at least I keep telling myself that.

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