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maggyrider

When fun becomes duty...

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Posted (edited)
I think it's fair to consider myself an experienced skydiver. I started back in the end of 2012 and did about 3.500 jumps since then, of which "only" 1.500 jumps are tandems. Did my coach rating the second year after obtaining my license and my tandem and AFF ratings not that long after.
 
Where I jump skydiving is seasonal so it's not really possible to live off it alone, so I still have a part-time job next to it. Skydiving season is pretty intense, as we have a 6-day week at our dropzone and due to my part time job I have a 7-day workweek from late spring until mid fall. Staff does normally not get any days off and we are expected to be available at all and any time. No pay for bad-weather-standby-days though and no getting out even on light workload days. I've had a total of 2 requested weekends off the last 7 years - and that is "surprisingly" taking the fun out of the sport for me.
 
Season opening was late this year due to COVID. When we finally started our season it hurt to see all those great people at the dropzone, all my friends and students being amazed to get up into the sky again and me myself just feeling numb and irritated that all those days of endless standby and waiting at the dropzone are now starting again. Being on my canopy for the first time in more than 6 months did not excite me even the slightest. My only thought was to just get this over as quickly as possible so I could finally go home to do something with my valuable spare time that I actually wanted to be doing.
 
I don't want to rant too much. I just never had those feelings about skydiving ever before. Maybe all that is caused by the COVID restrictions, that finally gave me some spare time in the warm season and reminded me that there is more in this world than just skydiving. Maybe I just overdid it the last few years and need a break from skydiving.
 
Anyways... Has any other experienced skydiver out there ever been in a similar position? Advice is very welcome...
Edited by maggyrider
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(edited)

I think it happens a lot, I've known a lot of guys who were very active and made a lot of jumps in a short time, only to suddenly disappear and never be seen again at a dropzone. Others keep on going year after year.

Me, I quickly stopped doing tandemvideo when someday I felt relieved that jumping was cancelled for the day due to the weather. It started to feel like a job, and I already have one of those! Went back to jumping just for the fun of it, and never regretted it. Maybe someday I'll change my mind again, maybe not. 

Edited by evh
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I did AFF and Tandems for about 15 years after I retired from the military. Almost killed my passion for the sport. Quitting students and getting a regular part-time job as a replacement was the best thing I ever did. Now, I get to decide when, where, and how many jumps and it's back to having fun with friends. I see Instructors fall into the trap of "I have to always be available!" and when they are burned out you don't see them anymore....

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"the quickest way to take all the joy out of a hobby is to try and make a living at it" 

I know of a couple TIs who left the sport due to burnout and never went back even as fun jumpers. that's a bit of a shame, so if you feel some love for funjumping, just not working, stop working now so, like jimjumper, you still can get some enjoyment ;)  

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(edited)

I burned out on TI work way faster than that. Good on you for sticking with it so long. 

The logistics of working in this industry make burnout easy. Always having to be available, no (or low) pay when the weather is bad, no benefits or paid time off like a "real" job, zero hopes of building up a retirement fund, etc.

The lifestyle is part of the "compensation," and I think it will always be that way. If the lifestyle isn't your jam anymore, go get a proper job with a proper wage and jump for fun again.

I spent 3 years as a TI and loved it. I'm so glad I did it. That said, I'm back in the real world and if I never pickup another tandem rig it wouldn't bother me one bit. =)

Edited by Bluhdow
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(edited)

I have been jumping since 2006, and I got my TI rating back in 2012. All that time I had a full-time salaried job in Public accounting, so I literally worked 7 days a week for most of the year, with no down time unless you count sitting around on a weather day.

That was 7 day weeks during busy season while the staff was on their 5 month off-season going on cool trips or going down south. A mix of great days at the DZ when I wasn't at the office when the weather and students were awesome, but also days spent wasting my time with bad weather. During the summer Saturday and Sunday could be longer "work" days than my full-time job.

At first what kept me going in the beginning was that I was one of only a small group of instructors. There was three of us on the weekend, and as a result there was zero flexibility, but I could expect to get 30 jumps on a weekend if the weather was good. I got to be a legend in my own mind, and walk home with a bunch of bonus money.

Then later on I kept things going because the DZ was purchased by new owners that are awesome people who respected my time. I didn't drive out days with bad weather forecasts unless I just wanted to hang out. I love working for them, and the flexibility has made it work.

This January my Son was born, and then COVID hit. I still haven't been out to the DZ because work has been nuts, and for now I let my ratings lapse, but I think this year will be another time where my involvement changes. Wanting to have some time for my son is probably the best way to motivate change after so many years.

I think you need to respect your time. If the DZ isn't respecting your time you need to evaluate whether you can make change in that area, or if you need to beat feet.

Edited by DougH
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I echo the OP's experience.

I started skydiving back in 1977 and earned my first tandem instructor rating in 1986. From 1992 to 2010 (18 years) I worked full-time in the skydiving industry, often "8 days a week." I did tandems on weekends and rigged from Monday to Friday. It was only after 10 years, that I was able to negotiate 1 day per week as a rest day. Otherwise, I had to be on the DZ everyday and ready to jump with students. If weather turned nasty, I busied myself in the loft.

A few years back I heard a younger TI complain that she was exhausted by the end of July and just dragged her ass through August and September. When the rainy season returned in October, she suffered major depression.

Over the winter, I supported myself rigging and preparing 50-some-odd school rigs for the next season. For many years, I was the only Canadian skydiver collecting a salary 12 months out of the year.

It was not so much burn-out that forced me to leave the skydiving industry as it was injuries suffered during a plane crash. I recovered from most of my physical injuries after a year, but never recovered psychologically. I was more bored than stressed 3 months after the crash, but then too many lawyers, bullies and fiercely competitive skydivers reminded me of the crash too many times, burning that miserable crash into long-term memory.

The worst part of leaving the skydiving industry was sociological. Working those long hours prevented me from forming social connections outside of skydiving, so when I no longer worked as a full-time skydiver, I lost my social circle and huge part of my identity.

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I'm no professional skydiver, but what most of the posters above are describing sounds like the effect of any other crummy job. And I have had plenty of those.

A change of scenery always gets me motivated again.

If your job doesn't give you satisfaction anymore and the vibe among the coworkers isn't enough to compensate for that (or vice versa), it's simply time to move on. Maybe you're good with a different employer, maybe it's time for something else entirely - only you can decide.

Me, I had a busy schedule before Covid. I was combining a busy job with a lot of activities, hobbies and volunteering. Not all skydiving related, but basically me and/or my wife were out at one hobby or another almost every evening. When Covid hit, I remember coming home on tuesday night from work, when I would normally quickly get a bite to eat and quickly have to leave again in order to be in time for helping out at a dancing class. That night however I sat down on the sofa and thought, "I do not have to rush off anywhere any evening this week.. I could get used to this".

Going forward, I have used the past few months for a much needed breather - and I definitely will not let my schedule get the better of me again.

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Thanks a lot for all the responses... Helps already to see that I'm not the first one to have that kind of skydiving-burn-out happen to one. I think I am just going to ask to reduce my time spent at the dropzone as I see this as the only chance in bringing my passion for the sport back.

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I started jumping the same year as you, but only have about 10% of the jumps you accumulated. I never worked in the industry and strictly kept it a weekend hobby.

You're exhibiting classic signs of burnout. It happens to any job or any hobby that you work too intensely on without taking breaks. As you already decided, take a step back, relax, and don't burn yourself out on the next hobby you choose. With time, the feeling can come back :)

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(edited)
On 6/15/2020 at 9:05 PM, maggyrider said:

I don't want to rant too much. I just never had those feelings about skydiving ever before.

Burnout is a cunt of a feeling.  In my 15+ years of doing this full time(year round, I followed the summer over the globe) I've had it hit more than once.  On one occassion it was so bad I took six months off, had no job, and lived with my parents.  Another occassion I flat out refused to do anymore AFF(I kept getting all the problem students 'cause for some reason people thought I was good at it).  Other times it's workplace politics.  

Even if you get over this, be prepared for it to happen it again.  Maybe for the same reason, maybe something else.  And above all else, don't worry about walking away, even if it's only for a small time.  The sport will be waiting for you if/when you come back.

On 6/15/2020 at 9:05 PM, maggyrider said:

there is more in this world than just skydiving.

I started working in the sport doing tandem vids at around the 250 jump mark.  From jump 1000 on it's been over 95% work jumps.  Looking back I'm amazed that I've lasted this long, but I've been blessed to work at good dropzones with fucking amazing people.  No one needs to work as much as you are doing.  As a wise man from Skydive New England once told me(here's looking at your Mr. Pot).."even porn stars get tired of fucking everyday"

edit: der spelling

Edited by tonyhays
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Perspective from a true fun jumper, THIS is why I keep business and pleasure separate. I've thought long and hard on how to turn this passion into a money maker, and at the end of day, it just isn't worth it (for me...)  I personally feel like you need MORE WINGSUIT in your life! ;P 

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(edited)

Not a professional skydiver AT ALL (50 jumps), and not nearly burnt out ...... but I have been burnt out of just about every other hobby I have ever had by turning it into a job.  

I loved hiking and camping ... then I started doing it as a job in Highschool and College working for local outfitters setting up and guiding trips .... I am just now getting back into it after more than 10 years away from it. 

I loved Whitewater Kayaking ... and wasnt half-bad as a Class V paddler with tons of Whitewater/ Swiftwater Rescue Training.  Then I started guiding and volunteering as a Rescue Tech .... killed it for me.  I havent been in a boat in 7 years, sold / gave away all my gear 2-3 years ago and I am just now getting to point of entertaining the idea of getting back into it ... in the future .... maybe.  

I love to build things and work with my hands so i ditched engineering and became a welder ... 10 years in the field as a welder were rough but I enjoyed it ... 3 years into teaching it and the polished shine is starting to tarnish over (Granted, this has been a terrible year for teachers). Being a skydiving instructor, from my short time in skydiving but a very long career in skilled trades, mirrors skilled trade work in a lot of ways .... and all of the bad ones from what i can see.  working 7 days a week is not sustainable by anyone ... not without burning the person out and leaving a hollow shell. 

I would echo what the others have said .... what you describe sounds a lot like just being burnt out.  We can get tired of the things we love if we dont take time to remember why we loved them in the first place, and put effort into staying in that place of loving it....which sometimes means keeping it for ourselves.  I have already had multiple people approach me about getting my Coach and Instructor ratings and side job / weekend gig blah blah blah .... just like every other hobby I had, I always get asked to consider teaching it .... HELL NO.  

I have made a vow to myself to keep this for me.  Not trying to talk my partner into skydiving either ... or my kids... They can stay home so I can keep this all to myself and be greedy with my enjoyment and love.  

maybe one day, way down the line, IF being selfish with my love for this sport starts to wane a bit ... maybe I will look at C/I ratings .... or maybe ill just find another niche and be greedy with it a while longer. 

Edited by ColoradoJones

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Most jobs get boring after doing exactly the same thing for X years.  I'm not a TI but I wouldn't recommend doing it just because you enjoy skydiving.  Falling down the same tube day-in-day out must be pretty dull.  However if you enjoy people and giving them one hell of a mind blowing experience then things are different...

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