Why? I'm not unemployed. Far from it, I have an established career at a stable institution. But the thing is...I'm hungry.
The thing is, I'm bored.
I've been called an overachiever my entire life. Sometimes it's a compliment, often it's not. Sometimes I've wished I could be satisfied with underachieving, for once.
But I'm not, and I never will be. That's just not how I'm wired.
For over 10 years I've worked at a California State University. It's a gorgeous campus, all green grass and waterfalls and cobblestone paths. There are worse places to spend eight hours a day.
I like to move.
I've stuck with it, for a few reasons. One, because where else am I going to be paid to write in this town? Short of relocating to the Bay Area, this has been my best option.
But I've also stuck it out because I've built something here. I started at the age of 22 as a receptionist. But I was one overachieving receptionist. After answering phones and opening mail in the Office of the University President for a week or two, I saw a need: her writer was busy writing speeches, and her correspondence was falling behind. I offered to write a letter or two, flashing my hot-off-the-presses B.A. in English. Very quickly, I was ghostwriting all of the President's letters, as well as editing some of her high-level publications.
I spent the next several years working as a secretary in several different offices, but I maintained the connections I'd made with C-level executives, and I built a solid reputation as a flawless writer, editor, and communicator. I did side work for everybody from the President to individual faculty members to the University PR office.
When I was hired as Assistant to the Dean in the Graduate School in 2005, I performed all my Executive Assistant functions beautifully. But I also combed through the School's publications and web site, offering suggestions, until finally the Dean asked me to rewrite and redesign them all. Within a few months of hire as an Executive Assistant, I was promoted to a position created especially for me: The Graduate School Communications Coordinator.
I held this position for 5 years, and I built an entire marketing, recruitment, and communications plan from literally nothing. I hired an assistant. I attended conferences and made connections. And I wrote. I wrote everything.
In 2012 I took it upon myself to start a Student Blogging project. This was an ambitious undertaking for a little rural state school whose administrators barely accepted Facebook and pretended Twitter didn't exist. Nobody wanted to let me do it. Student bloggers? Uncensored? Unmoderated? Right on our website? Was I insane?
Probably. But I was determined to drag this school into the 21st century, so I did it anyway. I did it responsibly, but I did it, without the support or even the knowledge of many of my higher-ups. I hired 4 bloggers, students I knew and trusted. I trained them, and I set them free. Then I marketed the crap out of them, and I tracked their analytics, and I submitted a report to my manager. Here, look what I have done. It's already in motion. Try to stop it now.
Two years later the blogs are the cornerstone of our social media and content marketing efforts. Incoming students love reading them, and current students love writing them. I have dozens of applications each semester; they're only paid $18 a week to blog for us, and I'm only allowed the budget for 7 of them at a time, but those 7 spots are coveted.
From an outside perspective, from the real world, our blogs and our social media profiles are not much to look at. I know that. I'm proud of what I've accomplished here with very few resources and with roadblocks at every turn, but I'm not deluded. I may live in this small town, but I live on the Internet, in the pages of Venture Beat and KISSmetrics and Lifehacker, on Twitter and on Reddit. I live at lynda.com and TED, at Moz and Seth's Blog and Entrepreneur. I live wherever I'm learning and growing and readying myself for something bigger.
And it's time to break out, because the remote work movement is real, and it's happening, whatever Marissa Mayer might tell you. And for the first time in history a talented person can live where she wants to live and still work on the cutting edge. Tech like Sqwiggle and Dropbox and Skype make it possible. Teams like Buffer, Automattic, and Zapier are leading the way. Remote work has the Richard Branson Stamp of Approval. It's the future. And I want in.
I read this article the other day, and it's been stirring around inside me ever since. Ten Years of Silence.
My ten years are up, and I'm ready to begin my masterpiece.
Image credits: FilmDoctor, Buzznet