Tag Archives: job

Rationalizing Depression and Hopelessness

There are plenty of days when life feels so incredibly overwhelming in its abstract and concrete abilities to suffocate the soul. Life is shit and beautiful all in the same blob of time, this conveyor belt with tall walls surrounding that we’re trapped on from birth until we part.

My life has become my job, and I’m not even any good at it. Regardless of what or what wasn’t told to my new boss during her interview process, she’s very quickly seeing that I can’t keep up – at least not at the level I’d need to be at for my title and compensation. She swooped in and minimized my role either hoping I’d quit or be productive enough to be worth keeping on, at least for now, and I’m trying but it’s all a big cluster.

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What Do You Want / You Can’t Have it All

I was texting with my childhood friend. She lives across the country in a house that her now-husband bought. She is pregnant and due in a few months. She has a stable job in a public-service role that she loves, and she spends her free time with friends and traveling the world. I’m sure she’s not happy all the time– she had quite the traumatic childhood and has overcome a lot– but she seems content with life and stable enough to enjoy it.

Her and her husband are jointly making probably $60k-$70k a year, but they make it work. They can make it work because they live somewhere more affordable than here.  Explaining to her that my concern du jour was that I have a job offer that pays $70k less than my current role just didn’t compute. It probably doesn’t with most of my readers too… Continue reading

Needing to Escape But Nowhere to Go

Getting a job isn’t easy, but it appears based on my experience and half-way decent interview skills, I am able to get offers. This already makes me so much more fortunate that 99.999999999999~% of people in the world. Yet every day I work in corporate-esque America, I feel my soul being sucked out of me in its entirety. If only I could fake it like so many people around me probably do, then I’d be doing so well. I’m saving boatloads of money per month (given my relatively low cost of living in a high-cost-of-living area), and I have a job that provides substantial autonomy and seniority —

I could do a job for a short-term project — say, 1-3 months of figuring out a business problem — but staying in the same role for years has me driving home from work everyday thinking I’m going to look back on my life and this will be all I’ve done — whatever this is, it surely won’t matter in the grand scheme of things — I’m just a cog in the machine and a poorly functioning one at that (with all sorts of poorly fitting parts clunking away trying to make my little piece spin) and after now 12 years of trying to push forward I am just collapsing under the weight of adulthood. Continue reading

Suffocated by Adulthood: Failure to Thrive

I’m in trouble, yet again, for failing to plan appropriately for my projects and getting them done on time. I deserve to be let go, and I probably will be, and if I’m not I’m wondering if I have the capability to be organized and plan more effectively, gain consensus and get shit done so at least I can keep my job. Odds are not looking good.

I found out today, in a senior team meeting, that my new boss was hired this week. I wasn’t surprised, through some rudimentary sleuthing and typical paranoia I knew the hire was imminent. I’m not upset by the hire itself, nor being removed from the entire process of interviewing the candidate. What makes me saddest of all is what that means in terms of my own success in my role, or, let’s be real here, lack there of. I’m lucky to still have a job, and know I won’t be around for long–in a brief meeting with my boss today I was told my role would be shrinking further… Continue reading

The Candle Melting Down in the Middle of a Steak Dinner

Flames blur after I can’t recall how many glasses of Zin, our glasses always replenished in our conversation from unique sides of the world of business. The dinner I hosted which I feared would be a disaster ended up working quite well – with an academic, a mid-career professional, early career professional, consultant, a peer from my company and myself – it made for a really great mix of people and fascinating evening.

I didn’t sleep last night and I feel as if my heart is about to give out. It’s only 9:40pm but I soon will close my eyes and drift off to sleep. The wine helps. My thoughts are a mix of hope and sadness. I feel as if I’m the flame in the burning solo candle in the middle of the table towards the end of the dinner when the conversation around goes on and laughter is rampant yet the candle is burning low as its wax melts into nothingness, it’s bright flame unaware of its inevitable fate.

My voice is so annoying and I always feel out of place. I don’t feel like I said anything inappropriate but nonetheless I thought I talked too much and didn’t add any value. The only time I EVER feel like I did something decent is when I say something funny and someone laughs. This is my savior. Without it I am completely and utterly alone. Making others laugh doesn’t make me fit in, but it gives me a purpose. That is what I love.

I need sleep. Soon morning will come. I am so stressed out and sad about my job. I wish I could be more appreciated. It’s my own fault that I’m not. Bu there are things I do that I believe have a lot of value but who cares. It is too late now. I am on my way out. I have to accept that and move on. But I’m so sad because I really like this industry and the people I have the opportunity to get to know. Usually I just hate everything about a job before I leave. This time… I’m mixed. I wish it had turned out better. But I need to get out soon.

Spiraling Out of Control: Fighting Horrible Anxiety Through Long Winter Nights

Anxiety ebbs and flows through my life, causing varying levels of disruption to my productivity and potential for success. Unlike depression, which feels somehow more real and worthy of concern because I can feel my body shifting into a state of inability to move, anxiety is different and fuels a sense of shame. It is a horrible loop of self sabotage – lack of sleep makes anxiety worse and anxiety makes the ability to get a good night’s rest impossible. My heart is breaking for the life I want that keeps inching further and further from my grasp. It feels like I’m attempting to breathe in a room where the oxygen is slowly being sucked out and I’m expected to perform just the same as I suffocate.

This anxiety makes it impossible to focus. My mind literally cannot stay focused on one task requiring intellectual processing for longer than a few seconds. Clearly that is not acceptable when my career relies on me to produce quality work leveraging my brain. I keep thinking I’ll just take a few minute’s break and then get back to work and make progress, and then I find myself staring at the same blank sheet of paper unable to do anything. I am exhausted and want to walk out of my job and never look back, except I can’t because I need my job and if not this job I need job and no role will be better.

My doctors wouldn’t give me anti anxiety medication because I may be trying to get pregnant soon, which makes sense since it would be dangerous to an unborn child. So I don’t know what to do at this point. The depression fueled by anxiety is much scarier to me than the one that stems from my actual depression. Anxiety is an alien attacking me from the inside, and I as I attempt to hide my hand’s tremors I long to to grab a knife and cut it out.

I try to breathe, do exercises which for a second may ease my mind. I listen to music in attempt to calm myself. Other than watching a television show or closing my eyes and falling asleep (if possible) I cannot stop thinking in these horrible loops over and over and over again. I feel incredibly alone and ashamed. Why can’t I just stop?

The current political system in the U.S. makes it worse, certainly. I feel helpless as I watch our country being taken over by an evil, self-serving man who may lead us into world war or who knows what. I fear for the safety of people of color and anyone who thinks differently. I wonder how I will be able to raise children in a society where a man who throws temper tantrums on Twitter is president. How the one person who is supposed to represent stability and calm in a big scary world filled with evil humans is actually the scariest of them all. And I want to do something to help, but my role in this great big world is to wake up each morning and convince companies to buy software that will make them more efficient. I’m part of the problem. Perhaps I am the problem. One of them many.

Maybe it will be better tomorrow. I hope to get home safe, I don’t feel comfortable driving right now but I must to get back to my bed, only to repeat the journey again – to feel like everyone is watching me in my small desk in our open office, or that everyone is noticing that I left to attempt to get work done at a coffee shop down the street except my head is spinning so fast the only time I can get anything done is late at night when it’s quiet and calm. But I need sleep, so staying up late to work is not the best idea either.

Trade jobs are being lost to efficiency and automation. The jobs that exist now and will continue to exist are those which create redundancy between human work and machine work, or the roles which produce more efficiency from the machines. Maybe one day we’ll be in a world where we won’t have to work so much because robots do all the things that need to get done, but that doesn’t work in a  capitalistic society. As all the science fiction shows and books try to warn us, this is not going to come to a happy end.

Perhaps I should just shut up, take a few big breaths and keep my head down, and live my life and make the world more efficient and pose it all as a positive as more and more people lose their jobs or are called out for not being efficient enough, not being 150% productive in a society where 100% is no longer good enough.

I want to feel excited again. To feel like my work is contributing to something greater that is helping the world or at least entertaining those who feel this same sinking anxiety and horror at the state of things.

Instead, again I find myself drowning yet again. I don’t even see the surface anymore. It’s just dark and cold and I’m losing the energy to kick and force myself to the surface for a quick gasp of brisk air before plunging back into the darkness.

 

 

And So Life Begins… Thoughts on Turning 33

In five days, I will be turning 33 years old. I was just reminiscing the time of my life when I thought 33 was quite old, and I realized I still think it’s substantially ancient. Sure, I have a lot of years ahead of me, but 33 is no longer my “early 30s” which could pass off as an accidental overage of my 20s. Thirty-three is serious adult business.

I honestly never pictured myself at 33 because I couldn’t imagine it. I’m not sure how many people see themselves as working professionals or mothers or whatever else it is 33 is supposed to be when they’re younger, but I didn’t have any sort of vision of who I’d be at this age. If a six-figure salary and wedding ring on my finger = success then I guess I’ve made it. But I feel ridiculously behind and lost, which is much scarier at this age than it was my 20s. Continue reading

Should I stay or should I go?

I was depressed about my job and decided it couldn’t hurt to start applying to roles that really struck my eye, full well knowing that historically I’d apply to hundreds of positions before getting a few calls… and it would take weeks to hear back, if I ever did.

My plan was to stay at my current job at least until the end of December, so I could finish out my year and really wrap up the current projects I’m working on so hopefully all involved could look at my time at the company as a success where I clearly added value, even if it was time to move on. I figured starting to apply for jobs now meant I’d maybe have a few interviews starting in late September/early October, being drawn out through October, with the earliest I’d get an offer being late October/early November. With a little negotiating I could bump out my start date until sometime in December. Continue reading

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The High Cost of Mental Illness

Mental Illness is a touchy subject –  unlike, say, cancer or diabetes, it isn’t something that can be diagnosed via blood tests or biopsies. And everyone suffers some amount of anxiety and depression at different times in their lives. I’ve struggled with my own mental illness for years, both being tortured by its overwhelming nature, and, often in the same day, telling myself that I’m overreacting and totally fine.

Mental health conditions cost employers more than $100 billion and 217 million lost workdays each year. When I’m lost in a web of anxiety, I know I’m not being a good employee. This reminder of my failure as an employee spins me into a deep cycle of depression and worthlessness which quickly spirals out of control. I get so mad at myself because I simultaneously feel like the greatest impostor of all time and know I can do a better job that what I do right now, but the sadness of being an obvious fraud gets in the way of productivity. Eventually, my boss catches on, and I move on. I put so much of my personal worth on my job, I really don’t have much else in my life outside of my job and my husband. My career is everything. Maybe that’s the problem. Continue reading

Why Do I / Do I / Even Want / This

A wise friend of mine the other day raised a very interesting point – why do I want to be in a senior leadership role? It first struck me as a strange questions – who wouldn’t want to be in a senior leadership role? Isn’t that the point of working – to be able to strategize and lead a team to achieve substantial goals? It doesn’t have to happen now but it is the eventual goal if you want to move up in your career.

He shocked some sense into me by noting that he doesn’t know many people – if any – that really WANT to be in such a senior role. No one wants this role because quite frankly it’s impossible to succeed in it… and I do feel it’s even harder as a woman (especially a socially awkward one) than it would be for a man.

The best senior leaders don’t actually do any work. They successfully hire / fire right and motivate their team to be their best aligned to the company’s common goals and they promote the shit out of themselves and their teams without sounding like their boasting. That’s it. That’s why successful executives tend to be the people who have a BA in BS – it’s a very valuable skill/trait to have, and it’s something so alien to my being that I am now convinced I ought to give up.

It is very clear that my current company is seeking to replace me as soon thats feasibly possible. I found out, through various means, that they’re interviewing for someone more polished and been-there, done-that to take over without actually telling me as much. It appears one candidate was far along in the process and took another offer, so perhaps this buys me some time. But I don’t want to buy time. I want to be good at my job. And this is the type of job I’ll never be good at. Why? Because I do too much.

I hate playing the gender card but I do think it’s a lot harder for women to get away with just being leaders. In a small company no one can really just manage – yet the true leaders are the ones that bring value to the table in their public speaking abilities and relationships, and everyone else does the work, work. Except – when you’re a female executive, especially a young, unproven one, you have to be both a leader and individual contributor. What I’m learning is most men wouldn’t even take a job that requires them to do that. I just seem to be a professional masochist.

That said, I’ve been going back to why I wanted this or any job like this in the first place… and the moments when I truly love what I do. I don’t really care about being the head of anything… but I do like to be in charge of strategy and lesser so execution. I’ve never done well working for someone who tells me exactly what to do. I have ideas and quite frankly I believe many of my ideas are good ideas… though my execution is admittedly lacking which gets me back to, well, this damned place where I know I’m on my way out, whether I like it or not.

My very german therapist tells me I need to stop chasing money. So do my blog readers. But it isn’t the money that makes this a job I like. I enjoy the wins. I am fueled by the victories where I can clearly show my contributions helped the bottom line. Perhaps I’m delusional in how much influence I can actually have given my anxiety drives my mind in unproductive circles time and again around the moments when I actually get shit done and put a dent in the everlasting pile of work that isn’t clearly defined yet is sitting so glob-like on my already-cracked and seemingly soon-to-be shattered plate.

But… I guess it’s true… not many people want to be in charge of departments. Especially not many people in their early 30s. That’s something you do when you’re 50+ and have many years of experience under your belt and the lines in your face which organically garners respect. The only reason someone like me gets hired in a position like this is 1) at the time I’m hired, better people for the position aren’t interested yet in joining and 2) better people for the position would refuse to join unless they were set up for success which = larger team so they don’t end up having to do all/most of the work in order to claim success.

Now, don’t get me wrong here – I’m not complaining about having to do work. I’m just struggling with being a senior executive and junior-level individual contributor and mid-level manager and creative expert all at the same time. This is a requirement of this role not in my company specifically but any small company hiring for the position, with slight variations. You are tasked with being everything and yet when you fail to do that you’ve let the world down and clearly you were a bad hire. Then the company goes back to the drawing board to learn from it’s “mistakes” and perhaps hires someone more traditional who can go through the motions at the least in a way that’s much more convincing than I ever could. In the end, though, few succeed. The best execs I know have all left startups. They’ve figured out that their best chance of success is to use their charisma to manage large teams and be that rock which inspires the masses to get shit done and not let said shit hit the fan.

I’m not that person. I’ll never have consistent, readily available charisma.

I can’t fake it. I drain too easily. I need to hide in a corner for a day and recharge.

My friend noted that if you want to become a senior exec you don’t try to become one, it just happens when you’re good at something. He’s right. I never was able to get good enough at any one thing so this whole career progression has been forced and riddled with improbable success paths and far more roads to failure. That’s just where I’m at now. It’s a lot to think about… but at least I feel myself pulling closer to accepting that I’m not a senior exec, I shouldn’t be one and I shouldn’t want to be one. So what should I want to be?