In 10 years, I’ll have an almost-10-year-old. I’ll also likely be at the same exact level in my career. I’ve been writing a lot about this lately, because it’s on my mind a lot. I see others my age who are already much higher up in their careers, and even though I know it’s not the right fit for me, I can’t help feel disappointment in myself and a bit of jealously.
It’s nice to work in a larger company where there are some older folks (late 30s, 40s, etc) that are in mid-level roles and probably will never go much further. It’s hard to accept that for myself. But it’s so hard for women in my industry to get ahead, even if they’re rockstars and socially capable.
It’s not just because I’m a woman, of course, but it doesn’t help that I’ve been hit on my senior level execs who could have become mentors (after we weren’t working together anymore, but still), or, just entirely ignored otherwise, or that I don’t know how to maintain ongoing relationships with the executives (all male) that would be that type of mentor/friend that younger male managers with potential have. I don’t know what guys talk about when they go get drinks (I’m sure it’s not all work stuff) but I don’t have that type of friendship with anyone I’ve worked with in the past (who is in a more senior role than I am), male or female.
I don’t see that changing, ever. And although I’m unsure if I ever want to move up, it’s tough to see that I can’t play the game. I’m a halfway-decent creative at best and that means a long working life of presenting ideas that executives turn down and disagree with, and not having enough time to do good work. I think management, at some point, is just refreshing in being able to set strategy and not be so stressed out over the details (stress is still there, of course, but it’s a different kind of stress.)
I still don’t think I’m cut out for management anyway, but it’s just sad that there is no path anywhere in my career but flat or out. It very well might be out in a few years. I feel disappointed in myself because I’m so close yet so far from being professionally successful. I’m trying not to care. There are plenty of ways to find fulfillment in life other than being an executive. So why am I so stuck on this?
Because it isn’t just about becoming an exec. It’s about having those professional relationships that help in the day-to-day at work. It’s about those relationships not just being work based, but having a social element to them. But no one would invite me to an event outside of work that isn’t formally sponsored by the company. And, if they did, I wouldn’t know what to say anyway. Which maybe is why I don’t get invited. I’m just so awkward. I wish there was a way to fit in more and make professional friends, but it’s pretty hopeless. My best bet is just trying to output good work on time and keep my job for as long as I can.