Another Rough Week – Thinking About the Future

Day 9029230952 where I have at least one mental breakdown in a bathroom stall at work. One project I thought was nearly finished (and got approved by a very senior person) and then theohead of my department looked at it and requested a pretty significant change that requires a ton of extra work and budget and may not even be possible.

It didn’t help that I have been sick for the last few days and the head of my department keeps telling me to take care of myself and work from home, and then a few moments before a senior lead in HR, who apparently heard I was sick, told me I should go home — and, I didn’t want to say “but if I am working from home then I know I’ll have less of a case to make to take time off after I have a baby because our unlimited vacation policy is confusing and I just feel like I have to be at work and show my face in order to have any chance of ever seeing my kid once my leave is up” and I just, well, I was a mess today, breaking into sobs about once an hour, and trying to make it look like the red eyes were only due to my cold and nothing more.

My new boss is actually great and seems to understand the unrealistic expectations put on me. While my boss can’t exactly block all those expectations, at least she has been positive about my work and makes me feel like I don’t completely suck. Which is really a massively important thing right now given I was playing the “what should I do because shit isn’t getting any better and I end up back here every single time” game as I was sobbing in the bathroom stall and one of the multiple choice options that seemed promising was find a way to disappear. But, you know, I have a baby inside me and I love my baby and I could never hurt my baby. So that option at least has to wait a few months and hopefully forever. For now, I just need to figure out how to survive.

Survival is not what I want for the rest of my working life. I’m fucking pissed at myself because this is a good job that pays well and even though I think I suck at it some people seem to think I’m good at parts of it. Unlike other roles I’ve had in the past, I’m fairly confident I’m not on the immediate chopping block. But that could change in a matter of days — one project fucked up — one failure to hit a goal that impacts the organization.

I’m not even so worried about getting fired. It would suck–massively suck–to get fired. But, I also know I can’t leave on my own. I acknowledge that my job prospects prior to being offered this position were slim to none. My resume, while impressive-ish, felt way too jumpy. I was too senior for junior roles and too junior for senior roles. I had no experience working at a big company and the smaller companies that were interested in hiring me were, like all the others, expecting the impossible, often for a little pay possible. This job is my everything right now. If I can maintain the role for at least two years (ideally more, but two at a minimum) I have a serious role as a serious company on my resume–not just an inflated title at a company that disappears from existence in a few years. Even if I stay in this exact same role for the next 2-4 years–if I can do an ok job at it, then I should have people willing to take a reference call for me… I should have at least some doors open at the other end of it.

This is the absolute best career situation I can be in right now. I can’t say I’m set up for success, but I’m not set up for absolute failure like in the past. I’m already well known in my rather large company–everyone seems to know who I am (people say hi to me using my name and I have no idea who they are) and I guess it’s pretty cool that in six months on the job I’ve had such an impact on the org that people know who I am. I owe that entirely to the head of my department, who believes in me way more than I believe in myself, but also expects so much more than I think I can deliver on. I put a lot of pressure on myself not to let him down, which adds to the stress of this job, because I know I will let him down, over and over again, until I have to face a very ugly situation of my greatest supporter one day asking me to leave. I don’t want to let this get there.

I’d like to somehow manage to make this position suistainable. To sign up for projects that I can complete, on time, with enough time to get feedback from key stakeholders. I want to not be so emotionally invested into every project–but I don’t know how to do that because when I’m not emotionally invested my work is shit and when I am I end up practically suicidal but I actually do good work. I think there needs to be a middle ground there, but I’ve yet to find it.

I know I can’t let one person asking me to fix something in a project set me off like this, even if that ask is rather unreasonable at this point in the game. I know I have to learn how to care less about every little thing at work so I’m constantly in crisis mode. I’ve been doing ok at that for a while and then it just all built back up. Everyday I feel like I’m running form a pack of lions and I can’t get away fast enough, even when I think I lost them there they are, standing behind me, ready to pounce. And so, I jump up, and try my best to keep running.

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3 comments

  1. A frequent reader says:

    Just wanted to let you know there’s another person out there who reads your entries and worries about you. I think I remember you saying in the past that you can’t afford therapy, but are you sure your health insurance doesn’t cover a licensed clinical social worker or similar type of licensed therapist? If not, is there an employee assistance program you can confidentially apply to? Your all-or-nothing, black-or-white, “I’m either 100% or 0% invested in work” way of thinking is really familiar to me and something that I found some help with via cognitive-behavioral or acceptance and commitment therapy (or, lacking therapy, workbooks). I hated it at first because I thought the therapist didn’t believe me that my job actually WAS a bad fit for me and actually was hurting me, like the therapist was saying it was “all in my head,” but eventually I learned to be more nuanced and see that I have some control over how I think about my job. I think something similar could possibly be helpful for you–hope you might think about it! I’m cheering for you!

    1. Joy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thanks! I actually am going to a therapist about once every other week and back to CBT. I can see how it will be helpful if I can just believe it.

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