My first free weekend in a long time is coming to an end. I need more of it, but I won’t get more of it until next weekend. Granted, it’s only 4:30, there’s still plenty of time for productivity in the day. And productivity is what I need to accomplish the long list of items I need to catch up with before the week starts again.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my mental health (not to mention my physical health) and how important it is to focus on improving it. There just isn’t enough time to seek help, as much as I need it. The question I have lingering on my mind is whether traditional help could ever really help. All the psychological drugs in the world can’t help me get me to where I should be going if I’m on the wrong path. But what is the wrong path?
The truth is that I have such deep-rooted ethical values and beliefs that it is difficult for me to be a marketer. On one hand, I think I’m really good at marketing. Marketers need to be a little crazy in order to do good work. They must be a little narcissistic (everyone should be thinking about their company in a positive light and if they’re not then they need to make that happen), they must be a bit borderline (fear of customer abandonment), and perhaps even a bit sociopathic (natural charmers, but even if you believe in the product and company at times your charm is going to be fake.) You are hyper sensitive and aware of reactions. You have anxiety about anything that might cause a poor representation for your brand, and also about your competitors. You must have black-or-white thinking, your competitors are bad, you are good. Yes, no wonder I am a good marketer.
I do believe in my company, 100%. I just think deep down I like to help people vs sell to them. That’s it. I’m not a selfless person either, but I’m happiest when I feel like I am actually helping someone. It’s not like I’m the type of person that wants to change the world and save the whales. I’m not ready to join the Peace Corps and leave my dream of wealth behind. I’m just not so sure I’m cut out to be a marketer. Fortunately I know that my company by far has the best product on the market, so I can easily say that and mean it. Still, my passion is and will always be creating quality and innovative user experiences. I’m so far removed from the product as a marketer that I just become this megaphone of everyone else’s creativity and ideas. Perhaps a pretty good megaphone (I’ve realized lately that it is actually pretty hard to do what I do, especially writing-wise, and I’m good at it) but I don’t want to look back on my life, one which was supposed to be filled with art and creativity and creation, and say I was one damn good megaphone.
Two weeks ago I took two Adderall to help me stay awake (I know, not the best idea when I hadn’t taken them in a while) and suddenly everything was so clear. It felt real, all the direction in life, to just do the best job possible now, really contribute significantly to making my company worth as much as possible (which I can do in my role, one great part about it, I can at least help a team that know what they’re doing) and in three to four more years, apply to art school, and — even if I’m not that good — spend 2-4 years just painting and drawing and getting better at it. It wasn’t even something I was considering at the time, I was just sure of it, that it was the perfect plan, and in that time I had decided I needed to push back having kids until I was 35 so I could dedicate a part of my life, before I got too old, to becoming a better artist.
Then the meds wore off an reality set in. It didn’t really make sense at all. I mean, maybe, if I can save enough money and I really think I could make a career as some sort of artist or art educator, but I’m not really that good at it. And I have such a good career right now. I mean, somehow or other I managed to line myself up for a really solid professional life as long as I can keep improving, fix my issues with time management and leadership, and really be a rockstar marketer. I mean, nothing is easy, but compared to just seven years ago when I was at my rock bottom, completely depressed post graduation, and hoping for a full time job doing just about anything, I’ve somehow landed on my feet. It really wasn’t that long ago when I was sending out thousands of resumes per month, applying for just any job, hoping someone would bite, and finding it extremely difficult for anyone in Silicon Valley to give someone without an Ivy League degree and heaps of internship experience a chance.
God knows I don’t want to mess up now. It’s very possible that I’m just so mentally unstable (ie bipolar and/or borderline) that I’ll never truly be content in my life as much as I want to be. There is a part of me that loves exactly where I am right now, and wouldn’t change it for the world. I was just telling my boyfriend that of all the jobs I’ve had thus far, this is definitely my favorite. I finally have some autonomy and responsibility. Still, what does this actually lead to professionally 10 years down the line? Do I want to be VP of Marketing when I’m 38? Or would I rather be a product manager, or psychologist, or artist, or…?
The fact that these jobs require 24/7 commitments and contributions is fine in my 20s, but could I really do this in my 30s as I hopefully start a family? And am I even cut out for any leadership roles? I’ve already written on here that I’m terrible at leading and managing. I could get better, but some people just aren’t natural leaders. Those people who excel in business, especially in the softer side, are people people. And I am not good with people. I’m good at understanding people, I’m good at observing people, I’m good at listening to people, but I’m not so good at all the other social skills that are so valuable in life, especially in business. The only way one can get away with that and still be a leader is if they are a brilliant engineer, which I am not.
Anyway, I probably shouldn’t be writing this all publicly because one of these days someone who knows me is going to figure out who I am and take all of this the wrong way. I hope I’ve made it clear that I really, really like my job and even more so I like my company and the people I work with, there is just a fundamental concern I have regarding if I’m in a career where I’ll never actually be good enough to get ahead due to my poor social and leadership skills.
That said, maybe I do this for 3-5 more years, and focus on really doing the best I possibly can, just deal with all of the painful criticism when I am not perfect, hang in, hold tight, sit back, and try to get better at the things I’m not that good at, or focus on improving what I’m already good at, and when that time is up, I can make a decision about where I go next. Maybe that is really dropping everything and going to art school. Maybe that’s an MBA. Maybe that’s going to school for user experience. Maybe that’s going back into journalism (which I miss and think I’d be much better at now than I was when I didn’t understand the business world at all.) Maybe that’s just leaving work and becoming a full-time mom. I don’t know, but what I do know is that I need to wake up every morning and commit to where I am at now. It’s a great place to be. And I really do have the ability, everyday, to make a difference. Ultimately that’s all I really need to be happy, as long as I’m succeeding more often than failing.