Time For A Career Change

Ever since I can remember, I knew I was going to be a scientist or engineer.  When I was very little I wanted to be a doctor, but the idea of undergrad, med school, and residency turned me off.  Then I discovered chemical engineering  in the 8th grade & thought "Jackpot!".  Since then, so much of my life has been devoted to the chemical sciences: summer programs & serving as the chemistry aide in high school; majoring in chemical engineering & then switching to chemistry in undergrad, along with numerous internships & research opportunites; academic research in graduate school; and now, almost five years experience working in corporate chemical labs. Yeah...I'm over it.  Officially done with being a chemist.

Being in the lab doesn't give me the same excitement & satisfaction it once did.  It used to be a time where no matter what aggravation & idiocy I had to go through at the job, the joy of science would it make it worthwhile.  I really got a sense of accomplishment from those "Eureka!" moments.  But over the past year those moments have been few & far between.  Its gone from "Eureka!" to "Ehh".  And without that excitement about the scientific process, without the thrill of solving the problem or uncovering the mystery, I have no excitement for the lab.

My love for science used to get me through, but now everything that's related to the lab is irking me.  My biggest pet peeve are the people who ask me to run tests but have no clue what they are talking about & how much work goes into getting them what they think is a simple answer.  Nothing is simple in the lab, and every test ends up being more involved than you expected.  And I pride myself on being a good scientist, so I don't hand out results or draw conclusions frivolously.  But that's what people expect of me. *sigh*

Beyond falling out of love with the lab, I've fallen out of love with the corporate world in general.  After 4 years, I'm no longer optimistic & full of energy, ready to climb the corporate ladder.  I'm pretty jaded about the corporate world in general now, which is unfortunate.  When I was younger I had grand visions taking the corporate world by storm...and now I'm just over it.  The drudgery, the repetition...its wearing on me.  Frankly, I feel like an woman who is 38 instead of 28.  I have to go to bed at a certain time each night, so I can be up at a certain time, so I can be in the office at a certain time...and I'm just over it all.

What I'm longing for most is some fluidity in my life.  I live the same day five days a week, 52 weeks a year, not including my lame two weeks off that my employer affords me.  I want to have more flexibility in my schedule, even if its just the ability to work from home sometimes.  There's no way for me to do that as a scientist, so its time for a career change - STAT.  As much technical knowledge as I have, I want to try my hand at something else.  And really not be chained to a desk or a lab for the rest of my life.  I don't want to look back and wish that I had taken a chance when I had the opportunity.

I have so many ideas, I don't know where to start.  But I know that I have to make a move.  So to do that, I'm starting with working on the side hustles & making a big push to pay off my non-student loan debt.  I want to be prepared so that when I walk away from this job, and hopefully Corporate America altogether, I can do it as prepared as possible.  My plan is to be doing something entirely different by the time I turn 30 - so I have a little less than 2 years to make it happen.

Anybody else gone through this?  Felt like you needed to completely change it up?  How did you handle it?   Got any tips?