Tag Archives: career

Island Hopping in the Seto Sea and Trying to Find Peace

I haven’t traveled alone a lot thus far in my life. After my trip with a friend to Thailand half-a-decade ago I stayed on for a few more days, got food poisoning in Bangkok the morning of my flight to Singapore, managed to make it to my flight and wander around Singapore solo for a few days before traveling back to the States. That was a lonely excursion and it was only a few days solo, but I did enjoy seeing Singapore and it was easy-ish since everyone spoke English.

Japan has been different because English is definitely not common here. I knew Japanese would be the primary language, obviously, but I thought there’d be more English speakers. It’s actually quite strange how the country seems to be obsessed with American / English-speaking culture, yet few can speak the language. Case in point, in most hotels and spas, there is English jazz music playing… but no one understands what the singers are saying. Even many shops have their signs written in English… one wonders if the people who work in the shop have any idea what the sign says…

The good thing about Japan is that the train system is so easy to navigate. I heard this from friends who have been in the past but I didn’t really believe them. Japan has a crazy amount of train lines and for international visitors you can get a 7, 14 or 21 day “all you can eat” pass which (in my 14 day version) I’ve certainly been putting to good use. The pass doesn’t cover all the trains, but an app makes it easy to figure out which trains can be ridden between one destination and the next. There are local trains – which are subway style – and then there are long-distance trains which range from fast to super duper fast (the super duper duper fast trains are not included in the pass.) The train I’m on right now is going 170 MPH…

Most people on their first trip to Japan do the Tokyo-Kyoto loop, some adding in Hiroshima (which is south of Kyoto). My trip has been Tokyo-Kyoto/Osaka-Hiroshima-Kyoto-Naoshima-Hakone (extra fee)-???-Tokyo. I considered heading down to the south island to visit Nagasaki and get out of the normal tourist loop, but am glad I didn’t because they’re having crazy rains down there right now and bad flooding… so this worked out much better.

I’m spending too much on this trip– I don’t even want to add it up at this point — but I also acknowledge that once I have kids (and, hopefully, another full-time job) I won’t be able to travel like this. Even with PTO, I would never relax and enjoy traveling if I had a job to go back to. It’s unfortunate but true – I can’t NOT think about my job. So – traveling when I don’t have a job is something I can’t take for granted at all, even if it sucks that I have to pay for health insurance and such being gainfully unemployed.

The trip was extra expensive because I – probably in bad judgement – decided to offer my sister a free trip to Japan as a belated college graduation gift (I had promised her I’d take her to hawaii if she graduated college, which then turned into Japan somehow). The trip in total is probably about $7000-$8000 not including “free” flights w/ points (I’ll do a final tally once it’s over)… with my husband’s portion around $2000 so I’ve spend $5k-ish total on the trip. Was it worth it? (Is it?)  Yes, definitely. There are a few over-spends where I see I could have saved cash but overall, for 24-day trip it’s not so bad. Without stays at a few fancy traditional-style inns (Ryokans) and spurges on dining (A5 Wagyu was worth it) I could have cut out $2k probably, but – YOLO. Right? I said it. YOLO.

Hubby and I are still planning on going on our ACTUAL honeymoon in September… to New Zealand… and I’m itching to also explore Australia while we’re in the down under parts… but I’m not sure I want to do another 3+ week trip. Husband definitely doesn’t, he maxes out his travel acceptance at two weeks… and since it’s our honeymoon, I think it would be nice for us to fly there and come back together. Bummed we can’t stop in Fiji but Zika is still prevalent there and on the off chance that I can actually get pregnant I shouldn’t be getting myself Zika (Mosquitos love me so I doubt there would be any way to avoid them.) Supposedly there is no Zika in Japan… if there is, well, my bumpy, itchy legs are not a good sign.

I’m glad I’m getting to travel extensively now, it is helping me scratch that itch so I don’t feel like I’m locked up and away at work for the entirety of my healthy years. Even now at 33 and out of shape I’ve definitely noticed my body does not travel as well as it used to — my feet have taken a beating unfortunately. We had been walking about a half marathon a day for the first two weeks of our trip (from sitting on my ass all day) so I pretty much f’d up my feet badly. The last few days traveling solo I’ve been able to listen to my body a bit more… when I need a break, I take a break. When I need to take a bus, I take a bus. When I need to stay at my hotel for the night because I can’t move, I do it. I’m feeling much better.

Part of this trip, I hoped, was to lose some weight. I am really ashamed that I managed to gain back all the weight I lost and then some. I was at 182 at my highest and then got down to 170 fairly easily, but the 30 pounds I lost took a lot of dedication and hard work over six months… then I got depressed, started binging like crazy and was up to 184, unsure of how I went from 140 to 150 to 165 to 170 to 184… but I did, and I felt awful. With this trip only being 3 weeks, I realistically can only lose 6-9 pounds at most. I don’t think I’ve lost much, but I’ll be quite happy if I get back to the states and I’m under 170 (I was about 175 when I left on my trip.) If I can get to ~169 from Japan, I have the next month including a weightloss bootcamp I’m going to for a week, where I want to lose another 8lbs, getting me closer to 160 by mid August. I’d love to be back at 150 for my honeymoon (I was briefly at 140 but my wedding weight was 150 and I think that was a good place to be) … so I’m targeting 150-160 for mid September. Going to probably have to go Keto for Aug/Sept to make that happen… but it will be worth it. And maybe, with doing that, I can actually get pregnant… which will save a good $50,000+ in IVF fees when that probably won’t work anyway.

With so much going on, it’s good to be alone for a bit and slow down. It would probably be helpful to unplug but for better or worse this country has really good wifi and I have a rental device that has me more connected than I’d be back in the states. I’ve tried to put my phone down for a bit… and take it all in. I love seeing new landscapes and architecture, getting lost down random alleyways (as long as I feel safe, which I always do in Japan), and just embrace being a nobody in this world. Yes, I know a few random people who live in Japan but odds of running into them are quite slim. I’m anonymous here even though everyone sees me, as no one looks at me, no one notices, no one cares. And in forever terms that would be awful but for a week or two it’s kind of nice. I don’t have to worry about what I look like (as long as I’m culturally presentable) — if my hair is frizzy or my stomach is bulging out because I’m not wearing Spanx… no one cares. Despite my mother complaining that my digitally-shared photos don’t include enough Japanese people in the background for her friends to believe I’m in Japan when she reshapes the pics (face palm), I have no pressures here, no annoying parental voice that linger in my head despite my long departed youth, no worries other than getting to my hotels on time, not getting my things stolen, and not running out of cash.

I know the real world will be back soon enough… and I HAVE to figure out a model of real world that works for me in perpetuity. It’s becoming more and more apparent that a career change is a necessity. It’s still hard to make the decision to leave a career that pays $150k-$250k annually for a job that may, especially to start, pay $60k-$100k and only see $150k in many, many years, if ever. But, I really want to have a family, I want to have time with my family, I want to be able to travel but I don’t need to travel luxuriously, and I’m almost ok with not being able to afford property and just to be a renter for the rest of my life. I’m trying so hard to take it one day at a time, and failing frequently, but getting closer to finding some sort calm admits the whirling storm of my ever-anxious mind.

Hello World. Yes, I’m Alive. And I’m in Japan.

Usually when I lose my job I fester in self pity and despair. Not this time world. I’ve been traveling in Japan for the past two weeks and have another week-or-so to go.

The first bit was lovely and stressful with my husband and sister traveling with me through Tokyo and Kyoto (and I planned the whole trip, so it was like work even though also fun.) Now, I’m traveling for a while on my own — which honestly I don’t like that much but
I feel it’s good for me to get away from reality for a while and experience new cultures…

I spent way too much on the first chunk of the trip, but now am doing about $50-$70 a day, which isn’t so bad… hostels get old after a while but they do make it possible to extend travel for ultra cheap, even in high-cost-of-living areas. I really needed this time alone on my own at the moment to regroup and focus on what matters in life, versus sitting in my room all day, staring at the wall and doing nothing outside of applying to jobs and sinking further into depression.

I’ve been out of work now for less than three weeks and I already miss it. I feel like one big solution to my failure to be a good employee is how I am obsessed with working. Even now that I HAVE NO JOB and don’t have to work, I crave having work. It gives me purpose and I need purpose when life is all so chaotic and impossible to control. I like working, only because I can succeed at something, even if for a short while, and even if that victory doesn’t last.

I really want to find a job that I can maintain… I’m looking for something lower level… I think I want full-time as the idea of freelancing sounds good until it’s reality and one never gets any time off and has to constantly pitch herself to obtain gigs and beg people to pay on time which requires a whole host of organization skills I do not have and do not expect to acquire anytime soon. I’d rather find a lower-paying job where I can work for a company that I believe in (with a “for good” mission) and where I can be good at my job. I still am not sure if it makes sense to drop from $200k-ish in salary to $100k in salary but at this point I have $0k in salary so really it’s not much of a drop, now is it?

I plan to start applying for jobs slowly this summer and more aggressively in October after my very belated honeymoon trip (separate form this Japan trip) … I think by then I’ll be more than ready to get back into the swing of life-slavery and have kicked the travel bug which is that buzzing noise always saying “you make good money but don’t have time to travel before you have kids which is the only time you’ll have to travel until you’re old and retired and can’t walk.” So, I’ve checked off much of Japan and I’ll hit New Zealand and possibly Australia in early fall… I have many other places on my list but for now I’m reminded how wonderful yet how DRAINING traveling is and how two weeks of travel really is ENOUGH unless you want to push yourself beyond your comfort zone (or you just love travel in a way I love my bed at home and cuddling in my husband’s arms.)

Grass is always greener.

I’m tempted to start applying to a zillion jobs now but it doesn’t make sense… I need to figure out what I want first. And I have a few things coming up and the trip in September so – if I can play my cards right I’ll have a job offer by mid September then go on my trip and come back to employment. That would be perfect. Well, I still need to figure out the whole baby-making thing since, surprise, surprise, my first foray into infertility treatments didn’t work (and I’m $2000 in the hole so far form them, yippee.) I probably should try REALLY hard to get a job at a company that covers infertility treatments because even with a $100k job that will be worth a lot for a year or two. If only one of those fancy big companies would hire me… but they won’t… because the only companies who will hire me want someone who will do 290852093582095820958230958 jobs for the price and headcount of one, i.e. small companies who want one person to do the job that would be done by a team at a larger company. And, so, that’s probably where I’ll end up again… but I’m going to try to get out of this vicious cycle and focus on having kids, if possible.

Too Late to Start Over?

Get me out of here. I’ll miss the microclimates, the waterfronts, the overly-gentrified streets with a variety of boba, fro-yo and ice cream shops, the security of pretending like I fit in here, that I’m one of them, that everyday I get on the train and wear my company with pride like I’m part of a cult where a job is so much more than just a job, the fantasy that somehow if I just work hard enough I can somehow afford a $1.4M starter home with a tiny backyard and raise a family here, and pay for pre-school for 1-3 kids and manage to see them enough to feel like a damn good mom.

It is so torturous to be so afraid of stepping back a thousand miles to get ahead a few feet, should you manage to make it back to where you started years later. Adulthood is not the time to romanticize potential – college was the perfect time for that and I genuinely fucked it up but not figuring out fast enough what it was I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t understand how it felt being in the same office day in and day out, or that I’d be able to do anything worthwhile in the world where someone would be willing to pay me for my contributions. I graduated, but I wasn’t ready to — I am not sure anyone is, or if that is what college is for, but 12 years ago when I received my diploma it didn’t feel like an accomplishment, only a big lie in which said I was somehow certified for life, yet I wasn’t at all ready for my future. I was suffering from a terrible depression and I was falling apart.

If I could do it all over again, I’d probably still fail to get the value out of school — there isn’t enough time, enough credits, to become a master at anything. Extracurriculars enable more time to focus on specific skill sets, as do internships, but I feel like I did a lot of those and yet still ended up with few skills and a whole lot of WTF am I doing with my life? And, it’s such a fucking privilege to even have the opportunity to make something of myself, and I blew it big time. Well, maybe I didn’t, I found a few jobs, I saved some money — but this isn’t at all sustainable.

There are so many things I hate about my current career, I want to just walk away from it entirely. I hate feeling so out of control over the success of projects. I hate having to use data to back up every single decision when I prefer to make choices largely based on intuition, because generally I understand people’s motivations and don’t mind the idea of testing things but data is a crunch in Silicon Valley when people are too scared to think for themselves since you can’t truly fail if the data told you one thing and you listened to it. I hate how everything seems so damn important and life-or-death where you’re being suffocated by stress when in the long run all the small things that felt so enormously important don’t matter – when even your “big” mistakes don’t really make a giant different in whether the company succeeds or fails because you aren’t at all involved in the product itself therefore even if you make it sound great in the long run no matter what you do, the success of the company is not at all in your hands, the product has to be great, and remain great, or at least better than other options on the market, and whether it is or isn’t your job is to make people think it is, to make sure everyone knows it’s the best. Your job is to tell the truth or to lie, it doesn’t matter, you just have to make sure that everyone wants to buy your product. You have to take data and massage it so it tells the story you want to tell, you have to constantly be manipulating everyone and everything with your fake smiles and astounding interpersonal communication skills, and pseudo-empathy and heaps of politics that get in the way of just getting your job done. And you probably don’t actually know what the hell you’re doing because no one teaches you this shit and everyone is making it up but some people naturally are good at sounding like they know what they’re doing by testing things and follow through and some results which maybe make them good at their jobs or as good as anyone can be at a job that has no actual success metric that one can achieve that is meaningful, as you aren’t building on top of work done previously most of the time but instead constantly trying to scale a mountain but starting back at the beginning every quarter and looking up at a peak that is getting increasingly taller and further away. And you have to organize your projects that you think based on data will have the appropriate impact needed and delegate this work to other people and motivate them to work their asses off to make a dent in the sea of impossible victory and you somehow have the ability to get your employees to want to work 24/7 on being part of this “team” and making an impact and doing the best work of their lives that in the end, again, is virtually meaningless, albeit potentially helpful in the short-term and that’s the best one can ask of themselves in a role where success is defined by how good of a bullshitter you are tied to some serious project management and political skills namely the ability to lie with the most brilliant poker face because that’s what great managers do best.

Can I go back to that? I know long-term success in this role is impossible, but short-term stints of holding my breath and trying to play that role are becoming easier each time – but they will never be easy. I can’t do work when I don’t care, even when they pay me a lot, and I wish I could because life would be so much easier that way — I’d be a millionaire in 5-10 years, which isn’t rich but it sure is a nice number en route to serious financial security. But. I. Just. Can’t. Do. This. Anymore. It’s not good to ask oneself if it would be better to jump in front of a train than to go to work one more day as a clear failure… if the embarrassment of failure is worse than the pain of disappearing.

Part of me wants to just say fuck it – to say fuck it because I don’t care if I spend all (some) of my money on – who knows – getting a second bachelor’s degree in something more interesting and maybe more practical… or, taking expensive classes to get certified in something or going back to grad school and getting a master’s degree in something that I can do everyday without wanting to jump off a cliff… even if it doesn’t pay that well… even if it never will pay that well.

But pay that well… I don’t know what that even means. IVF costs $50k+ and I can only “afford” that now because I have (had) a good job. If I don’t have kids by choice or by fate of my messed up hormones, then maybe it all doesn’t matter — I can live on next-to-nothing and just make art, make documentaries, tell stories, feel like my passion doesn’t have to be my professional Achilles’ heel… I just want to find a job where being passionate is not only accepted but desirable. When I get hired people think my passion is an attribute but they learn soon enough that bold and honest passion causes more harm than help in a role where sociopathy is the true required skill for success. I need a job where I can be myself… if that exists… one where my dry sense of humor and wild desire to live ethically and empathetically based on my own moral code will enable me, and ideally those around me, to thrive. I’m exhausted trying to be someone I’m not and clearly failing. I want to start over.

I’m talking to a career counselor now but not sure that will help. I went to a psychiatrist and they gave me a prescription for Zoloft which I haven’t started taking yet (and I may not because there’s a risk for minor birth defects and should I get pregnant I’d never forgive myself if I harmed my child, kind of defeating the purpose of an anti-depressant…) and I’m trying to see a psychologist but all of that is just more bullshit when I know the only thing that will help is taking some sort of action to just change everything about my life, or at least the parts which need fixing (mostly my career.) My husband is awesome and he’s my rock and I love him more than anything but having a husband certainly complicates things as these choices are not my own, they impact him as well, especially if my next steps require me to move to another part of the state or to another state. But he’s pursuing his dreams now and I think I at least deserve the opportunity to pursue mine, if only I knew what those dreams are… if only I knew what way to point my glistening arrow of optimism in an unproven satisfying future before I blindly and clumsily shoot in the wrong direction.

Who Would I Be If I Didn’t Care What Anyone Thinks?

It’s exhausting to spend your entire life trying to be someone you’re not. Even if you are failing left and right and you’re not convincing anyone, it still takes a ton of energy to convince yourself that you are doing things the right way – that there are no other choices – that you must be successful in the sense that you are self-reliant and have a job that is fancy enough not to merit any questions related to “what the hell are you doing with your life?”

Growing up with two narcissists for parents has put me into this situation, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get out of it. I hope. And, in some ways this chasing after being successful has added value to my life — at 20 if I set out to “find myself” I’d have no savings cushion, no safety net, and a whole lot more fear (of not being able to pay the rent, for example) and a much greater risk of having to ask for help. That’s not to say that I couldn’t blow through $500k in savings in the quest to find myself today, but it’s unlikely as long as I’m not too stupid. Continue reading

Focusing on What Matters

Some days are better than others, but I’m feeling a lot more positive about this transition today now that I have been able to take a step back and breathe a bit. It’s certainly not the end of the world — I’ve been through this before and I’ve recovered. Yes, perhaps the three-strikes-your-out mentality is apt for this situation… lasting 6 months then 12 months and now 18 months in similar jobs and roles, improving a bit each time but clearly not fast enough to survive.

It tastes bad to be forced out, but the taste is always bittersweet. At the tail end of one opportunity is the beginning of the next, even if I can’t see it yet. I’m optimistic and for once feeling ok about taking some time to just pause and take time to figure it all out. My focus right now is shifted to finding health, happiness, and building a family. Continue reading

What If I’m Not Good at Anything?

I’m not sure if it talents talent or natural ability to project manage and get shit done, but that seems to be one trait that can’t be learned (if you’re horrible at it) and the most important in any job. The few people who can get away with not being the most organized and being poor at communication are the rare idiot savants, those who are respected for their creative contributions despite other clear shortcomings.

We aren’t born to work, outside of hunting and gathering and building shelter so we don’t die, so all of these career tests and what you should be when you grow up aren’t telling the total truth — that we’re trying to identify some value-added contribution that we can do consistently well enough from post graduation through retirement. “Consistently well enough” isn’t an easy undertaking for anyone for 45 years. Continue reading

Every Business is the Same.

Unless you work for a non profit, you know the routine — business has one motive – to make a profit (eventually.) Business is a mathematical equation which pits the variables of humans against an improbable outcome measured by quarterly earnings and loss. What goes up must come down, despite the general theory of relativity not being related to business, it’s still quite relevant.

It doesn’t matter what product or service you sell, how much it cures a rare disease or makes the sky rain tar,  if you’re in business, you must decrease costs and sell, sell, sell, and compete against others who are your mortal enemies due to deciding to work for a company names X instead of Y, and you have to be so sure why you’re better and why you are the best (despite your products/services known shortcomings) and you all must drink so much of the kool-aid you get a stomach ache and end up in the hospital for gulping down too damn much of the saccharine, chemically-endowed beverage. Drink up. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Day 3: Unfunemployment

Day 3. Told husband. He’s sad, but not surprised. He knows I’ve been struggling for a while (i.e. all my life.) The reality of the situation is sinking in. The “transition” period my boss mentioned is now clearly going to be two weeks at most, likely less. At least I have a few days to wrap up projects and try to leave on a positive note, vs the ‘ol being walked to my desk and out the door.

I regret how I handled being notified of my firing as I was not prepared in the moment and thus my reaction was shock more than anything. It was in some ways a release of accepting that I was in far over my head, or that my anxieties rapidly dug me into a hole too deep to every dig myself out of.

Looking back, I am trying to embrace this as a learning opportunity to determine where to go from here, and how to make sure I don’t fall flat on my face when I get there. In terms of my career, in 2010 I started doing some freelance work for a company that sold software to other businesses. Seven years later, I’ve worked for 4 businesses like this, and in each role have learned a bit more. I’ve never learned how to effectively build and lead teams, but I’ve learned a lot about my specific area of business, and what works and what doesn’t.

There’s still the very real issue of my poor interpersonal communications (and just overall people skills.) Had people in the organization liked me more personally, they might be more willing to forgive a few less-than-stellar moments. But I have no social skills and I don’t think this is going to change significantly enough to impact the outcome of my career.

As I meditated on life in a park yesterday in between doing probably too much work for the day I was told to not do any work, I thought about the people who I worked with over the last year and then immediately thought about my childhood — as a kid, I didn’t fit in with the kids who were highly political, smart, yet extremely competitive. I work with a clique which I clearly am not capable of being part of — a sorority of people who say they’re nice and accepting but really who want only other people like them on their team.

That’s not just this company – that’s most companies, especially small companies where people really do become this odd sort of family. I’m that odd duck cousin that no one really wants to invite to the holiday party but they do anyway to keep up appearances, and then everyone talks about me behind my back the second I walk out the door “isn’t she odd.”

I haven’t actually worked for a company where I felt like I fit in, with the exception of one which at times I felt connected with the team because they were a bit more quirky and open to weirdos like myself. The issues I have with interpersonal communication were still quite present, but the feel of the whole company was more open and accepting, so less of my energy was spent on failing to fit in.

I still have few ideas re: what’s next. I spoke with the head of a small agency who does some work for me and told her I’ll be leaving the company, and she offered to provide some consulting work to me if I was interested – which really meant a lot to me because I work with her often and she knows my talents and lack there of, and she didn’t have to offer. I might take her up on that and will at least explore the option of freelancing for a while.

I wanted to experience management and I have, and it’s not for everyone. Or, it may be for me at some point in the future, but in the mean time I want to really focus on being good at what I’m good at, and with that improve my communication skills versus trying to do this AND trying to figure out how to manage. It’s just too much at once. I’ve got plenty of time to be a manager in my career if I want to be, maybe in 20 years after my “kids” have grown up and moved out. So I’ll be 55 and then can be a manager. Or maybe it will happen sooner — or maybe it will never happen again. Freelancing can be quite lucrative as well… so that might be the right path.

No more shoving this square peg into perfectly round holes.

Day 2: Unfunemployment

I’m doing work, because that’s all I know how to do. I put together a transition plan for my boss that’s likely to get massively rejected, keeping me gainfully employed though mid June. I actually do have enough high-value work to stay employed until then, the question is whether she is willing to provide this long of a transition period. I’m getting the feeling that’s highly unlikely. I’m actually getting the feeling that she may say it’s best to conclude the relationship immediately. We’re oil and vinegar and she’s not in the mood to let me float.

I feel bad about not telling my husband yet, but he’s already worried about his job security and was just accepted into a teaching graduate program and I just don’t want to share the bad news when it isn’t necessary. He also is completing some work for the company and I don’t want him to feel awkward about finishing projects. As long as I get budget approved, then we can have a clean transition. He already knows I was planning to start looking for new roles in summer, so it’s not exactly a surprise.

I also, fortunately, have enough savings to get through a rough time without anyone knowing the better… though eventually I’ll have to tell him since we either have to go on COBRA or free market insurance (or I need a new job before this happens which is unlikely since I’m not in active interviews at this point.)

Continue reading