My last boss (the one who fired me) — who joined the company after I was there for about a year and a few months — has apparently left after an even shorter tenure than the one I managed to maintain prior to getting the axe. I have no idea why she left — I can only guess, and I have plenty of guesses–but why she left doesn’t matter. The fact that she left less than a year after firing me means that clearly I wasn’t the problem. Or the only problem.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m trying very hard to view my job as just a job. I mean, it is. My job is to help my company make more money. And, if I do this, even indirectly, I likely can keep my job. We’re not curing cancer. So I try–incredibly, ridiculously hard–to care, but not care like that.
It’s fucking hard. I don’t know how to work without giving my all. When a coworker has a massive ego and throws shade my way day in and day out, it’s a heaping challenge to manage my emotions. I don’t even know what my emotions are at this point–not quite anger, or sadness, but more or less annoyance, and frustration, paired with my new life, or at least work motto — “I don’t give a shit.”
I really do hope one day to have something in my life where I do give a shit. Probably being a mother will be that thing. But work, work is work is work. I want to do a good job. But I don’t want to care to the point that I can’t do my work. So this woman doesn’t like me and doesn’t respect me–it seems like a big deal now, but it isn’t. I don’t think I’ll see 99% of my coworkers from past jobs. I try to resize my emotions to fit the reality of how important the situation is in the grand scheme of things. I try to leave my ego out of it. I don’t do the best job at that. I have no idea how to be a leader without ownership, especially in a horizontal organization. I don’t know how to gain respect because my communication skills are shit. I survive on people thinking I’m a nice person, and committing to too many things so people think I work hard (well, I do, but do I really need to do this to prove I do?) I want to be one of those confident executives that strategizes and leads and people follow — because my ideas are pretty good — but that’s not me, that will never be me, and I’ve given up chasing that at all.
It’s funny because a few years ago I just wanted to keep moving up and up and up. I don’t know why. Yes, the money is attractive. You start making the big bucks when you have VP on your resume. The big bucks that mean you can stop dreaming about affording a small home here and actually buy one. But, I’m over that. I tell myself every day when I drive to work — I want to stay here for four years — I want to stay here and NEVER ask for a raise or promotion. Sure, I’ll accept one if it’s offered, but I’m never going to push or ask. My job is to stay employed for four years. If I can get my full bonus, great, and that’s what I should be chasing — earning that bonus by doing the best work I can do. I don’t want a higher title. I don’t want a giant team. I just want to do my work and do it well. And I want to be making the same exact salary in four years that I’m making now (or, maybe with standard inflation raises if those exist.) I really don’t want a promotion, ever.
Does that make me lack aspiration? Does this make me not worthy of a career in business? Am I destined to be a 40+ year old reporting to a much younger boss? Does that even matter?
There is no where up for me to go. The “up” roles all require natural abilities I do not have. There is, perhaps, room to eventually move horizontal, if I stay in this business. More likely than not I will just hold on to this role for dear life for the next however many years of my life. The best I can hope for is walking away from this job with many people saying how much value I added to the company — how much I helped everyone be successful. Honestly, that would feel great, if I can accomplish that. I think I can in my role, but I have so many self doubts, and it doesn’t help that this one coworker hates me and is trying but failing to be professional about it.
I don’t care, but I do. You know?
When the kid is born, maybe all of this will shift. Maybe I’ll care less. Or maybe I’ll care more. It’s hard to say. Money will become more important in the sense that I’ll want to provide for my child. But money will become less important because I’ll be too tired and busy with hanging out with said kid to spend it.
I am so fucking determined to do a good job in this job. To just be so ridiculously productive that everyone wonders how I do it. I need to hire and scale to some extent. I still need to learn when to shut up. I need to shut up. I need to shut up. I need to shut up…
In all those meetings when I say something stupid than dig my sharps nails into the palm of my hand where no one can see because I’m so angry at myself and just a little bit of pain feels good, just a little bit of accepting that I hate myself for that moment and get over it, and no one needs to know about it. No one needs to see me cry or know how hard it is to merely exist as an ENFP in corporate america.
So I have my moments. I go into a bathroom stall and sob silently until it passes. I sit in the back of a sales meeting and hope no one notices that tears are streaming down my face in embarrassment of how bad I am at all of this. I pinch myself when a colleague turns around and hold my breath. This isn’t an attention-seeking scenario. I’m on my own in my depression and dealing with it. I’m flickering between moments of severe hopelessness and wanting to disappear and sudden symphonies of success, and the pride that goes with it. I kick myself when I’m down and when I’m up. At 34, I can’t say I’ve cured much of anything wrong with my mind, but I can say I’ve learned to live with it. Mostly.
The worst is having conversations with my colleagues, peers, subordinates or senior — not knowing what to say and when. The awkwardness. The eye contact I wish I didn’t have to make. The failing to read body language. The spurting out what I didn’t mean to say or what I meant to say but not exactly like that.
I don’t know. I don’t know if it can get any better. I’m starting to believe is the best it can get is just focusing on this productivity initiative, really focusing on getting shit done early, not last minute — and just being that reliable workhorse people admire but do not understand. A mystery. A mystery who disappears into the bathroom for her daily moment of self-deprecation and devastation which is clearly exaggerated yet no less real in all the pain it brings with it.