WTF Am I Doing?

Here I am, weeks after my 30th birthday, working a job that pays over $100k, and I’m almost ready to throw in the towel. I know I have it in me to good work, at least in the short term, and at least when I have the resources needed to succeed – but tonight, I’ve just hit a wall.

What I’ve known all along is that I don’t belong in business. In business there’s never enough money or time to get what you want done. In startups, take that and multiply it by a billion. In any case, the best managers are able to get stuff done because they constantly negotiate with vendors, perfectly manage projects and communicate clearly what they want and how they want it done to not waste time, and inspire peers and subordinates to do the work they don’t want to or don’t have time to do.

Well, I’m terrible at all of that. I can’t seem to get what I need out of my external or internal resources, and while it’s nice to pretend it’s just because they’re incompetent at some point I have to accept responsibility for at least a large chunk of that incompetence. So I wonder if maybe I just don’t have the skills needed to succeed. Heck, I’m doing a lot of this stuff for the first time, learning by trial and error, and more error. It’s just there’s no room for error. I mess up and I don’t have budget to fix it for another year or maybe never. Or, I try to fix it with not enough budget and end up with half-finished projects and more mess.

Is this something they teach in MBA programs? Or should I just give up as management of any sort is not in my DNA(DHD). I’m just so frustrated right now. Frustrated enough to throw in the towel. I want to just tell my boss I can’t do it. I’m a sham. Hire someone else who knows what they’re doing. Someone who maybe isn’t as creative or innovative but who doesn’t commit to more than what’s possible. Someone who knows what really needs to get done and picks the right battles to fight, not the wrong ones.

I just hate feeling like such a failure ready to quit, especially as a woman in a senior role in technology where so few exist. I don’t actually know where I can be a productive employee anyway – these skills tend to crossover between industries, it’s just amplified in a startup because you’re competing against businesses with a lot more budget and expected to grow extremely fast. It’s fun very early on, when growth is about going from 0-100 not 100-1000000. Then it’s about personal relationships. Small changes go along way. Success, albeit temporal, is possible with a lot of hard work and guerrilla tactics.

But everything has gotten too big. I’m falling hard. Yes, a few things get done well but who can really see that with so much mess. And instead of focusing on the things that I really need to get done I’m spending time going back and forth with an agency about them using too much time on a project that I thought we had agreed would not go over a certain number of hours. I don’t know what I’m going to do if they don’t agree to finish the work for the budget. I mean, I have to get it done, I have no choice. I will have to simplify the project, accept a design I don’t like, deal with things not being anywhere close to perfect, wondering why I bothered fighting to do this project in the first place.

I seriously need out of technology, business, and I’d say the workforce except I’m not a trust fund baby and I need to at least break even and put away some savings. I can’t think of any job I’d actually be good at. I just fake it for long enough until I can’t anymore. At this point I usually get laid off… which is potentially going to happen next month. I turn from queen optimism and productive to depressive, cynical, and – the worst – unproductive. Or not super productive as in the state I need to be in to be happy.

Well, it is what it is. I just wonder what it would be like to work for a company with appropriate resources to get my job done. Do appropriate resources exist anywhere? Clearly it requires making a case for the budget and reporting on how the work ties into the bottom line somehow. You can’t just have play money. Not unless you have your own to play with. So, where do I go from here? I really have no clue. I just wish I could sleep.

This is the downward spiral of depression. I can only think about all the things I do wrong. I worry that I can’t be successful at anything in life. At least with work it’s not the end of the world if I end up unemployed for a while. It hurts, for sure, both my psyche and bank account, but it’s survivable. What if I eventually become a mother? You can’t just quit parenthood or take a break from it when you’re having a bipolar depression, or just flat out sucking at the job. Knowing that life is just going to get more complicated, and ultimately more filled with fuck ups, I just drown in feeling overwhelmed about it all. So what if I have $250k today in savings? So what if from the outside I have a good job, at least by title? That can all be gone in an instant. I cannot maintain. I can only maintain my great anxiety and sense of perpetual failure.




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5 thoughts on “WTF Am I Doing?”

  1. “Do appropriate resources exist anywhere?”

    I am wondering this myself and I’m not sure. (types this while taking a procrastination break at 11.30pm)

    I love working in the media but I am tired of always doing more with less and always feeling like I’m failing because I can only manage so much. But would a fun startup be any better? Or do we have to go corporate?

  2. They’re paying you aren’t they?

    They haven’t told you they’re about to fire you, are they?

    They’re even promoting you, right?

    That means you’re the best that they can find on the market, even if you yourself don’t have any confidence in your abilities.

    Now if you tell me that you basically HATE YOUR JOB and want out because you truly can’t get anything done, that’s another story.

    1. It just means I’m underpaid and they can’t find anyone else who is willing to do everything I do for what they pay me. It doesn’t mean that I’m good at it or that they would refrain from replacing me if they found someone better, or just deemed that my role wasn’t important compared to others.

      1. You’re SO down on yourself! I totally get where you’re coming from as I’ve felt the same in the past and still doubt myself regularly. You know you’re doing the best you can with limited resources, and chances are they do too. If you’re not sure, bring it up. Explain your frustration about striving for excellence but not always achieving it. You’ll probably hear the phrase “welcome to the club”.

  3. Long time reader, first time commenting.

    As I’m sure you know, there’s a term for what you’re feeling- “Impostor syndrome”. It happens ALL THE TIME with women in business and particularly tech (drawing from my own personal experience). If you think the start up world is too stressful for you, that’s one thing. But please please please don’t go so far as to give up because you don’t think you are “good enough” for the industry.

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