What’s Next: Thoughts on the Future While Firmly Planted in the Present

May 9, 2017. Tuesday. I’m in a state of purgatory between employed and unemployed, a limbo where my employer has kindly provided a period of time in which I can complete a few key projects and look for a new job.

Although I’m well aware the logic behind this is to help minimize risk for the company, it is a luxury to have any sort of a transition period after being shown the door. Even though I collapsed into an embarrassing ball of tears upon being let go, I know they’ve done this in a very respectful way. I’ve yet to step foot back in the office — though I will later this week — and I’ve attempted to mitigate my supervisor’s faux interest in creating smooth communications regarding my “decision” to leave the business for new opportunities. Maybe others could play this game well, but I’m a horrible liar. Everyone knows (or will know) that I’ve been asked to leave, and I don’t imagine I’ll attempt to adjust the story if asked. I just want to be heads down, get my work done, and survive the last few weeks of this job before… who knows what.

It’s tempting to apply for a zillion jobs and to interview like crazy (if I even get interviews) and to take the first offer. But I’m so tired of navigating my career based on luck and happenstance. I’ve never had much choice in my roles because either a particular hiring manager would think I’m the perfect fit for the role to the point where they were unable to see any of my obvious flaws, or the hiring manager didn’t even bother to talk to me because they failed to see anything but these weaknesses.

In my career to date — job one was the first opportunity after over 500 resumes sent out, and I took it because it was a great foot in the door and a real job with benefits and such, and I was “poached” from this role to another that was clearly not a good fit from the start, lasted three months there, wanted to go into a product role but instead needed work and found it in writing for a startup that sounded somewhat interesting — the only company who cared to talk to me at the time — and I managed to turn that into a full-time position for three years, which I was laid off from before an acquisition.

You’d think after all that time I would have been in a better position in terms of the job search, but I wasn’t. I found some freelance work and landed a six-month contract, separately, with a giant global company through a friend who sold me in to the boss, who thought I was brilliant and didn’t have enough time to figure out that I wasn’t – but the six month contract ended, and the freelance job turned full time and I said what the hell, nothing else on my plate right now… and that lasted four whole years. It was four years of suddenly becoming this professional brand that had nothing to do with what I was doing before, but that was now my future.

Even though I never was any good at this one thing which I had been doing for four years beyond being quite decent at bouncing between projects and ideas and occasionally knocking it out of the park, I had bosses who didn’t know any better and just let me try my best (plus I wasn’t getting paid that much so I was fairly cheap for what I was contributing.) Next up, I was poached again, this time by a CEO who thought I was amazing until he realized I wasn’t the right fit at all, and was shown the door. Mere seconds later another CEO contacted me and said he knew about my work and wanted to hire me… he was different from other CEOs I had worked with, and with no job and no interviews lined up I just went for it and took the position, which lasted a year and wasn’t going all that great until a recruiter reached out to me for a new role which sounded interesting and I interviewed and got the job. At the same time, I did another interview for a different role from another CEO who tried to recruit me because he thought he knew what I could do and was “impressed” by me, but I turned that down even though it paid more because I thought there was a chance I could do this job justice.

But the reality is that I’ve just been flailing from job to job, negotiating higher and higher salaries somehow, but never being good at anything. Making more money puts one at greater risk when they don’t know what the hell they are doing, especially if that person happens to be a female since women cannot get away with just being good managers, they have to actually do amazing work too and prove their worth. The pressure gets to me and I can’t do it.

So, I really don’t want to jump into whatever comes along. I’ve been talking to a few contacts here and there about roles over the last year, and I purposefully didn’t move forward with those opportunities because I don’t want to just take what people are handing to me out of some sort of belief in my magical abilities (which do not exist.) When I am “bought” as an employee for magic, I can never live up to that. When I’m expected to create magic but also now do standard consistent work, I struggle because it’s impossible to do both, especially when I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing.

If I do go back to full-time work, I really want a lower-level job where  I can have a good boss who provides feedback and helps me grow. Maybe that’s too much to ask, especially given that those roles tend to be reserved for 20-something professionals and I missed out on my chance for them, but I’m hopeful something will work out. The grass is always greener, of course, but maybe I can add real value somewhere AND learn how to fit in an organization. Or, maybe I give up on that and just stick to this permanent freelancer idea and just add a little magic where magic is needed.

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