Category Archives: Career

Never Gonna Get Laid Off, Never Gonna Turn Around and Desert You…

Weellllllllllllp. Layoffs have hit my sector bigly and I’ve had an axe hanging over my head by a thread for a long while now with my boss salivating at the chance to slice the string. I know, though I don’t know, but I know, and everyone at the company knows, because it’s pretty obvious when such things are going down, that I have a job for mayyyybe two to three more weeks. Then — (f)unemployment? Ugh, if only I could take a chill pill and lean into the “fun” part of that, you know?

Here’s the deal… I never was a fit for this job, or any job I’ve had. I’ve gotten by on producing shiny objects — tricking people into thinking I can actually do a job. I’m not a one-trick pony, mind you — I have a whole host of magic up my sleeves. Problem is, I got short arms, and I run out of tricks soon enough. Then everyone realizes I’m a total fraud.

Oh, before you start throwing “imposter syndrome” at me let me tell you that I am convinced most everyone is a fraud, their brains are just not trying to solve every single problem in the universe at once so they can slow down and focus on whatever it is they are doing at the moment and get it done and move on to the next thing. My anxious-as-fuck brain freezes up all while jolting around seeing ALL OF THE POSSIBILITY. And then, when I’m working on creative projects — which is most of my work — I don’t know how to give useful feedback as I nit pick to sculpt the project until I’m happy with it. I don’t actually know what the end result is until I see it, and that’s not the way one can work in the corp world. Everything is all frameworks this and Simon Sinek that. Yea, I came up with a blog business idea earlier that while on unemployment this winter I’m going to read every single “top” business book that my colleagues quote to quote-zoo to sound smart and I’m going to summarize them for people like me who have no attention span and create quizzes so we can all remember the important bits to sound like we know our shit.

After I get through my little project, I’ll be seeing stars and going to interviews quoting all of the visionary visionaries, nodding along as yet another CEO references yet another book that everyone in business obviously has read, duh, even though I haven’t, oops. Even if my name isn’t as alliterative or sepia-toned colorful as as 

I’m glad I’m getting let go. Really. Not really. Kind of. I should have left this job a long time ago. Let me say I am glad I didn’t. I’m so fucking lucky. Soooooo lucky. The amount of income I made the last two years is abso-fucking-lootely ridiculous. It’s unlikely I’ll ever see that kind of AGI on my annual tax return again, ever. Unless this blog blows up bigly and I get a book contract that goes top 10 NY Times bestseller list and my face magically appears in all of the airport bookstands next to all those other books someone must buy waiting for their flight because why else would they put them there?

So if you haven’t noticed I’m flipping out a wee little lot bit and terrified of what happens next. I’ve managed to land a series of interviews for a series of companies and they’ve all gone nowhere. I fucking HATE feeling like I have to fake it in interviews to get a job — both because I don’t like faking anything (TMI never faked it, that it, thank you much, yes I know you were wondering and wonderers cannot be left hanging in these parts) and also because that is just a recipe for disaster if I get hired under some pretense and then have to actually do the job. I just want to be able to be myself (well at least 80% of myself, I can leave  20% of myself  in the  NFT car in the virtual parking lot) and get hired for who I am and what I bring to the table. Ah, such wishful thinking. Who would hire that? Who would hire ME? I wouldn’t. That’s a problem.

I’ve got a whole host of ideas on what to do next. Because I need a job. One that pays well. I haven’t made less than $165k in over 7 years. And I’m looking at jobs that pay $100k-$125k. And I can’t even get those. I’m considering a year or two of a low-paid job to build up some specialist experience but still I have to get the job and do a good job at it and that all leads me to that I need an MBA and to get an MBA I need to learn math and take the GMAT and I’m going to be 40 in a year and it’s too late for all of this, I’m just fucked beyond fucked. I do figure that there are certain things I can improve — skills I can learn — and other things that are harder to get better at. Creativity seems hard to optimize. I can beg borrow and steal ideas but I’m never going to be some sort of creative genius. I can, however, perhaps, learn data science. So I’m shifting to trying to find a path that’s learnable. Real. Hard. Skills. Ones that pay well, ideally. Or I just start this business book blog and start interviewing business people and make a podcast and make myself a person that people quote. Yea, my dream job is being paid $250k to speak at a conference for an hour. Who’s hiring?

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Struggling and Scared. What’s New?

I have 70 days until I will feel good about leaving my current job. But that still leaves the big question – what job should I go to next?

Reading job postings is the most depressing thing ever. I don’t have any skills that would land me a new job. And the jobs I’m qualified for, well, they aren’t even clear fits, and they would pay A LOT less. My only hope for making the same income is to take a VP level role, which is possible since I think I can probably convince some company no one wants to work at to hire me to run a department… I’ve done it before… but that means I actually can’t suck at this time. And while I think I’d be better than I was in my early 30s, I don’t see myself really being able to do the job well.

I keep having this sinking feeling that I’m stuck. That isn’t worst case, of course. That means I continue to do a good enough job where I don’t get fired. For however long I need to do that. I’m just not getting any more relevant experience for leaving and the longer I stay the more stuck I become. Until I get so depressed that I can’t function and end up losing my job anyway.

But I feel like I need to dig into something meaningful as my next step. I’m scared because part of me likes not giving a shit about my job beyond just doing a good enough job. If I am doing something that actually betters the world then I will be extra angry at myself when I slip up. It feels good to not care, I guess, but then I can’t motivate myself to do good work, so I think I need to care overall.

I wonder if I took some time off would I have the energy to get back to things. But I’m still convinced I don’t have the ability to learn enough skills to be employable in any job that a sane person would want to have. My number one skill is managing to make crazy sociopaths happy by doing what they want even though I disagree with it entirely. It’s not the best life though, at least for the past few years, it has paid well. But this year it’s leaning into being asked to do things that I’m not ethically ok with plus I don’t believe in and I just hate it all.

I’m curious what I’ll get for my bonus and raise (if any) this year. If I don’t get a raise again that’s going to hurt because inflation is bonkers. But I’m, well, not putting any money on a potential raise. I know even 5% is going to be pretty standard this year and anything below that is just a kick in the face and a clear sign to GTFO. But where do I go? I really don’t know. I’m just so worn down. I’m taking it week by week. 10 weeks left. Just 10 weeks. I can at least get through the 10 weeks right?

Objectives Towards a Better Reality

My “work husband” jokes that I ought to just say “loop” every time I text him how frustrated I am and that I need to get a new job. He often texts me similar sentiments in return so we put up with each other’s recurrent complaints, and both share the same frustration with the many things that don’t make sense with constantly-changing goals and lack of opportunity to focus on doing anything meaningful beyond the creation of a quick shiny object before moving on to the next. So, here I am, loop.

But leaving this job is no longer a question of if, but when. It’s more — what do I do next? I recently retook a Myers Brigs type test and I tested clearly as an INTP (no longer an INFP.) That tells me I’m fed up with bullshit and more appreciative of fact and logic in my old age. What a curmudgeon I’ve become. And I like it that way.

I feel like I have two paths here — one where I continue on my “business side” road, where I’ll never be a fit. I’ll have a few wins here and there because I can use logic to come up with ideas that make sense — but they will frequently be sabotaged by people who communicate better than I do and who think they know better. So everything I do will be some watered down or altered or not at all what it was supposed to be version of what I wanted to do. Even though for the most part I don’t even like what I want to do because I can’t get to it in a rational manner. I keep asking — WHY THE FUCK ARE WE DOING THIS — and if I can’t solve for that then it’s hard for me to do anything at all.

And in all my queries over the years I keep looping back to that I need to KNOW things. Not just any things. But I need skills. I need to understand programming. Not that I would be a programmer. Maybe I would be. I doubt it. But I need to understand how things work. To better communicate with the people who make things. So I can also make things. Even if I’m not, well, making them myself. This opens up paths to product management, data science, UX in collaboration with developers, and other roles that I could see being fulfilling in allowing me to build things and doing things that make sense.

The only problem is my focus is non existent. I’ve tried to go down this path before, and I don’t get very far. It’s not even frustration as I just feel like I have no ability to commit to anything whatsoever. It’s a problem. But here in my old age I know I need to. And I have this luxury of time that I normally don’t have where I could, if I get my darned act together, set aside some hours in the day to take a self-paced course and learn some things. I have a lot to do for work, but given I have a goal to move on soon, I don’t have to do anything above and beyond for my current job. And there are definitely times when I have downtime so I might as well put those to learning something useful.

I really like the idea that to get anything done in life you have to make a list of the 25 (or in my case 200) things you want to do and then pick the top 3-5 and cross out all the others. I haven’t quite made the list, but I’d say at the top of it would be 1. learn the fundamentals of coding (probs python since that seems to pop up everywhere) 2. build something even if it sucks 3. clean my house (/get a kitchen table set.) 4. exercise 4x a week 30 minutes a day and don’t order takeout; 5. prioritize work to-dos by day over the next 12 weeks and get that shit done (and repeat as needed.)

I think this is a reasonable and healthful list where if I can accomplish these things by the end of 2022, ongoing, I’ll be in a MUCH better place going into 2023.

I imagine applying for jobs would look much differently if I can say I completed a certificate for programming and/or built something. Because there are two types of people in the world, people who build and the people who try to make everyone see the value in what has been built. Ok, then also people who don’t want anything to do with building things and just want to make sure everyone is doing ok in the process of building those things. So maybe three types. I’m 100% a builder. I need to figure out how to be where I’m meant to be. I have 20-30 years of work left, which isn’t much time, but it’s quite enough time to either go batshit crazy or to be part of building something meaningful that I can be proud of.  I prefer the latter.

The Roads You Didn’t Take

There’s a part of me that still believes I have a big career in me. I could return to school for an executive MBA and find my voice and confidence to move up quickly on a high-potential path from junior executive to C-suite.

With my astute decision making leading to unprecedented revenue growth I’d no longer have to apply to jobs — jobs would apply to me. And 10 years later I’d look back at the last decade not as a smorgasbord of fake-it-till-you-make-it and no substantial work meriting pride but a full narrative around doing a whole bunch of great things. Maybe I’d be in one of those lists… despite no longer being young enough to make it into a 40 under 40. Perhaps a 50 under 50 but over 40. A 6 shy of 60. The one to watch. The one whose career is worth at least a couple of articles in respected trade publications.

Or – I quit the workforce entirely to write full time. A novel. A memoir. A TV series. A film or play or interactive art piece titled “pretentious” because it obviously is.  I create a storyline and cast and direct and edit something that goes on the internet and goes viral. Because everyone goes viral these days so why not me? I do something unique enough to capture some audience that wants more.

Or… I hand in my resignation and live off savings, moving to some town no one has heard of to live a life that won’t ever be heard of either. As a mom. Driving my kids to practices and classes and field trips. Volunteering at the school because there’s so much free time and I ought to use it doing something useful. 10 years of that.

Or none of these, more likely, just a schmuck doing some job half-ass not because I want to but because that’s all I’m genuinely capable of. Working for sociopathic leaders who at best are fake kind when you serve their visions well and at worst make you feel like shit until you land in a mental institution or die, whichever comes first.

There are so many roads and yet most of them seem so far away. Their starting point is a huge death defying leap across a chasm of diamond-tipped spikes just waiting to gut me alive. So I stay safely on the other side despite this wall behind me speeding up from a distance, clearly ready to nudge me off the ledge with no more space for a respectable momentum-building leap. So I wait until I fall violently to the end or I run and jump and try to make it across with my legs swirling at full speed in the air, like some long jumper who actually knows what the hell she’s doing — or perhaps not as gracefully but somehow I make it across, ready to take on the other side.

I don’t know and I’ll never know which is why I seem to just be waiting to be pushed off. Most people are here with me. Who says the other side is any better?

Can’t Sleep When Things Are Going Well and Caving In

$2.5M. I guess that is our current net worth, give or take, if you don’t count taxes or fees on sale of our house. I usually do but tonight I felt like giving myself a little fiscal pep talk so I threw together another spreadsheet (when I should be sleeping) which has us over the $2.5M mark. Even though that’s not real because if we sold our home and sold all our stock holdings taxes would make that a lot less. 

Still, the fact that in some not completely bullshit calculation we are at $2.5M is a significant milestone.

My husband and I picked one of those impossible net worth numbers we have/had to hit in order to consider a third child. $2.5M! That’s not going to happen, right?

Well… depends who is counting. But tonight, I’m counting it.

I’m not going to have a baby tomorrow. But given the savings goals been hit for each child ($500k, $1M, and $2.5M… if baby 3 is a possibility we’re at least at goal.) So that’s nice. None of the money feels real. And I know because I’m still rather heavy in tech stocks I’m going to regret that and it will come crashing down. I’m probably 30% in higher-risk stuff but I’m bored and antsy and FOMOing my life away so here I am holding way too. much FAANG and laughing about it until I’m crying about it. Oh well. When the game is squarely rigged against us — go big or go home? Or, stop taking risks because I’m almost old now? Probably that.

Money is a funny thing. $2.5M is a lot of money. No argument there. Yet I’m perusing the tuition rates for these fancy private schools for gifted kids and my jaw is dropping to the floor smack bang and flipping right back up into a cartoon spiral in reading that school for one kid for ONE year costs $35k or even $50k+. I mean. I don’t care how gifted your kid is. If your kids is that gifted give your kid $35k and have them build a business. Or a spaceship. Or a TikTok empire. I mean, if you are making $1M a year consistently forever then maybe $35k is a drop in the bucket but my bucket, rich as it may be, is snapping its lid on any thought of sending my son(s) to any sort of fancy private school.

I do wonder with my son… I have no idea if he’s gifted or just advanced or even how being also autistic and behind in some areas will make him who he is over the long run. I’m worried for him. Mostly in what happens when he starts to realize he doesn’t fit into the world around him. Right now he doesn’t care. At all. But I think as he matures he’ll realize that he’s different. I certainly know that feeling. My husband blossomed as the alien he is with a small group of smart-as-fuck weirdo friends. Well, maybe blossomed is the wrong word… but he survived and seemed to have fun along the way. I didn’t fare quite as well in my childhood and especially adolescent and early adult years.

And I wonder how much of what we’re capable of is based on the environment we’re put in and what we’re told we’re capable of and how we’re treated when we fail. It’s fucking strange to me to think some kids are shipped off to “gifted” programs where they walk around thinking they’re better than everyone else just because they can recognize patterns and a holographic memory (not a thing I made it up but I’ve decided it’s a thing.) I had some equally fucked up concept of my own intellect as a child based on my father’s commentary of both my smarts and my failure to live up to potential because I was clearly lazy and not trying hard enough when no no no I just couldn’t think straight and the anxiety took over very young when from an early age I felt like I was a misfit and was sad about bothering everyone while also longing so desperately to fit in and connect… but who was there to connect with? It’s not exactly all that different now.

So my son is clearly different and I want to support him while also letting him figure things out on his own. I always thought I’d be the mom who cheers my son on when he takes risks and fails but already I feel like I’m failing him on the failure support despite trying. He is already so anxious, so aware, so thoughtful in a mind that doesn’t yet understand the world or what is really going on. But he’s starting to. And I can tell as the world starts to make sense it becomes more and more scary. After a solid block of sleeping alone in his room in his bed he has been venturing out to sleep in our bed. And it’s sweet to cuddle and all but I can tell that his mind is spinning and processing all of it.

I haven’t told him my father is dead and he doesn’t know what death is yet but he certainly understands that my dad is missing out there somewhere. I don’t know what he thinks of him in his head. I worry for when my husband and my living parent’s pass away. I didn’t have to deal with grandparent death as a child except my mom’s father died when I was 8 and I guess he was always old and distant and it didn’t phase me much though I was a little sad at the thought of not knowing him well. And my great grandmother who was so old in her wheelchair through my young years – I don’t remember her dying but I remember her at some point being gone…

But because we are older parents and the ages are getting further and further apart between birth and the next birth there’s more death early on and it’s just something that is but it’s so terrible to have to experience it and to have to experience it with young kids. How on earth will I ever explain to my son when his best friend, who happens to be 78, no longer will be available to play with him ever again? My husband will be distraught and likely forever disabled emotionally by the loss of either of his parents. There are plenty of books on the subject but that doesn’t make it any easier.

And then there’s my own mortality. How did I get here? Well, covid. And my fear of getting a booster shot after the first 2 Pfizer shots seriously messed me up. I don’t know what was worse — how bad the shots messed with my body or how little doctors believed me (or how the doctors who did believe me said there was nothing they could do!) You start wondering if you’re crazy and just stuck in a placebo effect anti-panacea. Maybe your eye didn’t go blind and come back with dark floaters. Maybe you didn’t have the most intense headache like a monster clenching on your scalp and squeezing you to a pulp then stabbing you with ice picks for weeks. Maybe your hear didn’t shake like a motor and turn on and off when you were lying still at night. Maybe you haven’t had a series of experiences where your left arm and lip goes numb and you feel as if you’re possibly dying or stroking out or something.

But then you know all of that is real and you’re terrified of getting a booster shot when your body seems to be finally almost back to normal. The floaters have almost faded. You can go outside in sunlight and not cry because of your vision.

At the same time you know if you don’t get a shot you very well might die. You’re not being a hypochondriac or overdramatic. It’s just fact. You’re overweight now and that’s super high risk plus your depression is also a risk factor and you’re the blood type that seems to get hid hardest and now you’re over six months out from your last shot. Covid is an assassin out there looking for you and you can run by you can’t hide. So. I should get the shot. But then…  I don’t know. Months of feeling horrible again. Will I recover faster this time, or slower? What if I lose my vision entirely? Unlikely, but after my experience I don’t know what to think is possible anymore. And I’m so not an anti-vaxxer. I got my flu shot and I get it every year. I’ve had every shot in the book. But this really took me out. I’m scared. Of getting the shot and not getting the shot.

Meanwhile… life is being life. There’s been sickness in my house recently, a whole lot of it, but not covid. While my 3 year old seems invincible and has never had a fever (he was coughing a bit this week) my almost 1 year old was taken out by a fever up to 103.7. Poor kiddo. He’s still getting better. Slowly. And I’m trying to do my job that I’m so behind on. I managed to fight a billion fires today (a number of my own ADHD making) and I think there’s a chance I’ve caught up if I really put my head down and push through the next 3 months with tight project management kung fu fighting pow pow pow exhibitions.

But then…

My house is a mess.

My 3 year old son who is reading and memorizing the periodic table and yelling bloody murder at me if I count out of order ever and grabbing his ears should any unpleasant sound roll in or by needs support and therapies and doctors appointments and playdates and experiences and for me to be there and I’m not, I’m not there enough because even when I’m not working I’m so fucking tired or I am working because I can’t focus during the day and well it’s 2:30 now and hey I’m awake writing writing all the thoughts in my head then maybe I can sleep I guess possibly I don’ know. I want to be there for him. I want to sign him up for a thing or two but everything is expensive and yea I “have the money” but do I? I don’t know. If only I could be one of those people who just knew I’d always have a job — outside of mass layoffs — who had skills that were just employable like being a programmer or something but no I’m not that my skillset is pretty much straight up bullshit and while it’s not my first rodeo I’m still being thrown into a pit of mud and spiked in front of a crowd feigning concern. So.

And my younger son. What a personality. What a personality who needs attention and care and love and support. He is so focused and driven and will NOT GIVE UP if he puts his mind to something. I admire that in him though it makes it hard to hide anything from him because he remembers where you put it and he keeps trying to get it. We’re going to be in big trouble when he learns how to climb… he’s already starting to figure it out. I can’t believe he’s already almost 18 months (well , in 7 months) which is the beginning of when covid started with my first son and when I had the time to retreat from the world and go for walks with him that were first him sleeping while I pushed and later on more social walks for us as he counted all the numbers on the houses and shouted out letters as we walked by at 2.5.

Life goes really fucking fast. I mean they tell you it does. But you don’t know what that means until you’re in the thick of it. Here I am. Wading in quicksand and staring dewy-eyed at the sun, blinking to bat off the razor-blades of time.

And my mother needs to sell her house, hoarder house, but that’s another story. Or is it. Well it’s all my story. But who cares. I went out there and tried to help and apparently made more of a mess so she can’t handle it and she’s spending a fortune getting it cleaned up even though I got rid of so much she’s probably still saving money in the end. I can’t believe my mother is 68. Even though we have a bit of a jagged relationship I still don’t know how I can be in this world without her. Many of my friends wonder why I still talk to her. But I see her somewhat as my child as well. Not that I’m the best mother to her either. Mother to my mother. But I love her like a child, not like a mother, if that makes any sense. And if/when she dies it will likely feel like losing a child, and I’m worried about that pain, I’m worried I can’t handle more loss despite knowing loss is a gift of life because it means I’ve managed to keep on living. I’m scared of it all. I wish I could go back to the days when I knew nothing about the inevitable. I look at my sons and envy them and pity them. They can’t be kept in the dark forever. Especially with how fucked up the world is. Speaking of dark, things can get dark even faster. So much horrible things out there. I want to hide them from all of it. But they also need to know. I feel guilty for having kids sometimes. Even though grateful. Like what did I bring these innocent creatures into? Maybe they can do great things but — that’s if they survive it all. And then they still die in the end so that makes me feel pretty sick to be honest. Even if in the best case I’ll be long gone when that happens and they’ll have lived long lives and maybe had children of their own I still feel nauseous thinking about it. So I ought to stop because going down that rabbit hole is never a pretty one.

Anyway. It’s 2:39 and I need to sleep. I was probably going to write more things like about my new virtual therapist who is 83 who told me he can tell I’m highly intelligent and that I ought to be a professor and a columnist he named some columnist I reminded him of and I was supposed to know the reference but I didn’t because I don’t know much of anything but I’ll take the compliment with me to my grave or at least my mattress for now.

Seven Recruiter Calls But I’m Not Interested

The recruiter calls all go the same. Some company has some technology and then need someone on the business side to do XYZ for it. It’s a numbers game and at some point someone would believe I can fill the role they need (aka making magic) and I’d be hired. I’m told comp ranges $200k-$250k+, base. Don’t let that scare me away, they’re open to more for the right candidate.

The numbers are meaningless if I get hired and fired three months later, so I’m wary. After 15 minutes with a recruiter grilling me about my experience so hard I almost said clearly I’m not right for this role and hung up, she a second later said ‘you seem like a really good fit for this role’ (what?) and maybe I’ll speak with the founders soon. Ok. I don’t feel like I’m a good fit for the role, but a conversation can’t hurt…. or can it? Isn’t that what got me here, as in to this point in my career, in the first place?

I’ve said for a long time that this specific field I’m in isn’t right for me but it’s just so freaking clear I can see through it without noticing its there. It’s soul draining and yes it pays well especially in certain levels and companies but I just can’t do this anymore. I daydream of waking up excited about building something helpful in some way. But then again do I even have the energy for that.

I have the energy for nothing. Not even my typical long blog posts. Just this. A running log of where I’ll never be which is where I guess it is I am. Here. Still here. Always here.

Where on earth do I go next?

A short post, not so sweet, but short nonetheless.

I’m really struggling in figuring out where I realistically go next.

It does feel the time has come to move on in the coming months here…

But I’m looking at a $250k income next year, if I stay give or take. That’s a big “if” — because with a new boss that’s unlikely anyway. Even if I do my absolute best and never make a mistake.

That said… other roles out there just won’t pay as much. And they’ll probably throw some stock at me just to make it worth staying. But I know I need to get out for my mental health. There’s just — no where to go? I’m too senior for junior roles and too junior for senior roles. I am feeling really down about my prospects right now. I know it’s a job seekers market but the job postings out there really sting. I don’t want to go to a small startup unless I’m taking on a very senior time-consuming role and I don’t have the energy or time for that right now. But I don’t have the foggiest how to get into a legit large company with my background.

Feeling pretty darned hopeless. Grateful to have my job but hate the feeling of being so stuck. Maybe I could find a job for like $120k but is that really what I want? Is that really better than what I have now?

Just Over 100 Days Until TBD Life

For everything there is a season. And life constantly changes even if you try by lack of effort or relentless force to keep it all standing still. My fears compel me both to action and inaction, but things are in constant motion around me. My children are growing up a little each day. Work, in the great resignation with a tinge of additional leadership sociopathy, is hemorrhaging talent. And I’m leaning more into leaning out while leaning sideways in still looking for what the hell it is that might make me feel like I have purpose again. In no particular order.

I recently found out, through probably the wrong channels, that a key person in my org is leaving the company. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’m hurt by not finding out directly from this person. It just shows again how little I matter in this organization — and how others have managed to move up and gain prominence as I’ve fallen. I’m not jealous or even bitter anymore. Just questioning if I can ever function in a place like this. How can I go somewhere else and be them and move upwards instead of down? Is that even possible? I mean, after a series of wins and not rocking the boat I failed on some very basic task requiring follow through on booking a space with someone who told me they would do it and never did. So I’m ashamed about that and back to questioning my abilities and where I can actually be successful when my mind is extra mush as parent to two including one with ‘special needs’ and my own special needs and my own needs to be special.

I’ve updated my LinkedIn. Again. For like, the 90th time this year. My last updated was a mass deletion of all the details under each job description because reading it late one night it itched me with all its horrific bullshittery. I revisited it and inputed words that aren’t bothering me much now and turned on “open to new opportunities from recruiters” because right now I’m on that 100 day stretch and given I’m knee-deep in high-profile projects and the key lead in my department has decided to walk — and I was told by the head of my department I’m “definitely not a 2/5” this year (which I think was supposed to be a compliment as well as some sort of assurance that I’m valued still?) I’m less concerned about getting let go in the near future. I’m more concerned about jumping too soon to the wrong thing or just staying because I’m too scared to let go of my solid 3/5 lifestyle that’s stressful but a known evil vs walking into something totally new and that grass might be dry dirt but the time I get to it.

But seeing this person leave the company is a solid reminder that things are just upside down here and it’s not just me even though just me is an issue as well. The level of sexism and sociopathy is higher than I realized early on and those in executive roles feel it most. I don’t know what is said behind closed doors but if my limited interaction with said leaders is any sign of it then it’s real bad. Impossible expectations paired with questionable judgement means that even the most capable must resolve to lower themselves to be clearly submissive yet is paired with a lacking of respect for anyone who happens to be female especially in a non technical role. It’s pretty upsetting to the point that I see even if I never had my own challenges with project management and communication I still would be looking for an escape hatch.

The leaving of this member of the team is a lot process. I’ve been held back in many ways due to this person but I don’t blame them for the decisions they’ve made to not provide support. But I also don’t think they ever really understood or valued what I bring to the table and in some ways purposely kept me out of projects where I could have added value because they don’t like me personally. I feel like this person really had a clear set of objectives for what to accomplish in this role and I do hope they’ve accomplished everything they set out to do. I get a sense that leaving was not a given but the torture of being constantly berated despite barely sleeping and working constantly with pretty much no vacation for many years straight–and not being able to keep the best members on a team because they quickly see how dysfunctional this place is — finally was too much.

But I fucked up my relationship with this person time and again to the point that it is irreparable so if I do decide to stay at this org getting a clean slate with someone new also changes my own trajectory a bit. I’m mildly hurt that I’m in the dark on all this while my colleague who stepped into my former role is interviewing potential replacements for this person, but I’m trying to not take it personally. Only factually as another proof point that I really don’t matter here and I never will. The head of the department is clearly concerned about hemorrhaging people so suddenly he has told me that I’m a valued member of the team and will be considered for refresh etc, but to me it’s just too little too late, and knowing what I know now about what’s actually going down (I didn’t have the context when we met earlier this week) I just feel like my time at this org is worth nothing and I’m living in my box with no opportunity for growth. I asked about managing a team and was pretty clearly told that’s not going to happen so that’s that. Of course I can’t actually get a role where I lead a team without team lead experience so who knows if I’ll ever make that transition. And all the jobs that pay decently outside of this one still seem to require team leadership experience. So I’m still feeling stuck. But I’m starting to transition to applying elsewhere. I’ll start having some conversations. I’ll see if anyone is interested in me. Get a sense for what I’m worth since I still feel so worthless. And who knows what next year holds but I do feel ready for a change. I guess. Not rushing out the door but certainly all my toes on one entire foot are wiggling freely on the other side.

 

 

So Long 37.

37. You’ve been… a year. Saying goodbye to 37 seems like closing the doors on an era. An era of grasping on to the last remnants of my fleeting youth that in actuality was gone long ago. I don’t know what it is about “38” because it’s still squarely in one’s 30s, but it feels so close to 40 it might as well be. And my husband is turning 40 early next year, so I feel whoever gets there first ages both partners in a marriage to the next official decade of life.

The last few years of my 30s may or may not include one more child, but I’m really torn on that for so many reasons. More on that in a bit. It likely will include changing jobs, because this one is getting worse and worse by the day and the compensation next year no longer makes it worth while to stay. I just feel like no matter what I do I am not capable of doing a good job in this role. I’m not sure where I am capable of doing a good job but it’s certainly not here. I’m not getting fired so I’m clearly not doing the worst job possible. I try my best and it seems that my work ethic and positive attitude keeps me gainfully employed. But I’m fucking tired. Tired of the craziness that is my job where I can’t focus on any projects because I’m constantly thrown new things that take a lot of time and won’t actually help the business improve but are just pet projects from leadership. Did I mention I’m tired? Like, emotionally, mentally, physically drained.

And it’s not just because I have an almost-one-year-old and a 3 year old going on 13.

… So. I was gung ho about the 3rd kid thing with wanting a girl and then lately I’m just feeling like maybe that’s asking for things to go really bad. What if I die in childbirth? What if IVF gives me cancer? What if I have a girl and she hates me from the moment she slips out of my womb?

Possible.

But also, logistically, I’m not sure I can handle 3 kids. Now that my youngest is becoming a little human with his own needs and my oldest is his own growing mind person monster I want time to spend with both of them, together, and alone, as well as time to spend alone and alone and alone with my husband and so far I haven’t been good at any of these variables. I’m not thriving at work. I’m not thriving at home. I’m not thriving at anything. Except maybe gaining weight from binging on carbs to fill this pit of fear and confusion I feel at any given time.

Well at least I’m not fucking manic at the moment. So there’s that.

I sink deep into the sheets of the bed below me and wonder all sorts of things and don’t know the answer to any of them. I worry about my son who can’t handle noise and puts his hands over his ears when anything hums or buzzes and I wonder will he outgrow that or if not how does he handle living in a world that is made for people who are able to tune it all out? I worry about my younger child who is growing up with less attention than my first, who is being shoved by my 3 year old at times, and all the conflicting parenting advice on how to handle sibling conflict (while also being committed to ensuring he doesn’t get seriously hurt.)

I don’t know anymore. I feel old and like I’ve managed to do a lot in my life leading up to 38 and yet not enough at all. Like at 38 one should be VP or at least have some serious skills they are confident about and able to go into a job interview and be like “I’m the shit and if you don’t want to hire me I don’t care.” But what would I even say in a job interview? I babble. What do I know? I know how to serve the needs of sociopathic executives who are convinced they have the most brilliant ideas. I feel like this is not a worthwhile skill and even if it is, it’s not one I particularly want to be known for. I can’t. Do. This. For. Much. Longer.

I did one project the head of my department liked but he asked for some changes then the head of my team gave me feedback and I made changes and she really liked what I had written (even though I knew it wasn’t actually good so no hard feelings there) and then the head of the department was like WTF is this and clearly was not happy with the changes and so now I’m scrambling to put something together they both like at the last minute when I’m supposed to be on vacation. Luckily this vacation = sitting at my mom’s house and trying to pack up my childhood home so I have some flexibility but still — I really needed the mental break. My plan was to take 2 weeks off but I thought if I got 1 then that would be something. But here I am still working and I don’t know when it will stop. I’ll get Thurs and Friday off because everyone does but then I’m back.

Hey, at least when I’m back it’s December. I’m 38, ok, that sucks, but better than not making it to 38, and it’s also the final countdown to my final vest and final significant employe stock purchase plan purchase and bonus and 401k match and then I can leave whenever I have the energy to do so and find something better. It’s all finally here. It’s not a life-changing amount but it’s the end of what I committed in my brain to stay for and here I am and there… I have 117 days until I really have no significant reason to stay. They will go by fairly quickly I think. I have a lot to do. Even if I fail at the things I’m doing I don’t think anyone will realize it until well into those 117 days as long as I’m trying. Which I will be. I never stop trying. Trying isn’t exactly getting me anywhere though.

Curious what my performance review will say. In past years I wrote these long self reviews trying to highlight everything half decent I did over the year. This year I just threw together a few bullets. I have a different boss this year so maybe he won’t notice but I realize what I write doesn’t actually matter and I don’t deserve a great review. I’m either a 3/5 because I’m good enough to keep but not good enough to try to keep, or a 2/5 because I pissed a few people off over the year by missing deadlines or not communicating well or both (been there, done that, don’t think I did it this year but who knows.) I’m pretty sure a 4/5 is impossible for my role and abilities and a 1/5 I’d be fired already and a 5/5 isn’t real so… yea… I’ll be surprised if I don’t get the 3/5 but maybe I sucked more than I know over the year and I’ll hear all about it in January when reviews come out. I got a pretty sizable bonus when I got a 2/5 last year somehow so I’m thinking I’ll probably get a bonus again this year… and then… I don’t know. I really don’t know.

I wish my husband would be the type of guy who said “wow you’re clearly miserable and I want to do something that will make you happy — do you want to take some time off work? Maybe we should consider moving out of a HCOL area for a while and see how that goes so you don’t have to work so much? Or maybe we stay here but I apply to jobs that pay enough where you can work part time?”

He’d never say any of that. And I don’t know how I would react if he did. But wouldn’t it be lovely to have a husband who would be willing to put himself out there, do something that makes him a bit uncomfortable, to try to help his wife out a bit? Am I asking for too much? I mean, yea, I know who I married. And I don’t expect him to be CEO or anything but there are a few reasonable options at this point that would allow me to be maybe slightly less miserable and I don’t think he’d be willing to entertain any of them. So it’s up to me as always. I think a new job could help, but I don’t know how I can be successful in any job since I’m not actually good at anything. I just want to sleep and exercise and try to eat healthy and take some time to recover from the last four years of being beaten down so much (not to mention having two babies.)

Anyway, I guess this is what it’s like to be almost 38. And then to be 38 en route to 39 and then 40. And maybe one more baby. Or maybe no more babies. And hopefully enough money to pay the mortgage and the bills. At least. And watching my investments crash and being sad about how as a normal human the only way to get ahead and beat inflation is to invest yet that’s so risky even though it’s supposedly not that risky as long as you’re diversified and don’t need the money for years but who knows what the future holds so yea it’s all a gamble and it feels pretty shitty to have to gamble what you’ve earned in order to have a shot at a half decent future.

And that’s for someone who is privileged enough to even have that option… I’m aware so few are.

So here I am. Well. Hello 38. Nice to meet you, I guess.

Two Roads To Nowhere and Everywhere: Stay at Home Mom vs Working Mom

I’m sure people reading my blog think I’m crazy with now over $2M in net worth not feeling comfortable leaving work for a while… a few months… a year or two… to spend with my young children. Maybe I am crazy. I’ll tell you what I feel. I feel no different than I did five years ago when my net worth was $500k or 10 years ago when it was $150k.

I am struggling with the concept of time and the time of time. 10 years passes in a blink and yet was it all that fast? I don’t know. 10 years ago with $150k net worth I was just starting my first job in this series of jobs after another series of jobs. I was making $100k. At the time that was such a huge salary I thought I would never earn more. Who would pay me more than $100k for anything?

10 years ago I was 27 going on 28. Approaching my 30s. A far different mindset than approaching one’s 40s. Pre children. Pre marriage. Living with roommates and dating my now husband and struggling with enough depression and self-hatred to push myself to keep going to prove that I could survive. Don’t believe me? It’s all here in this blog. All the years that have sprinted by. The failures. The successes. Three firings later. Day after day of waking up feeling not good enough. Not knowing what I’m doing. Trying to make it work. Trying to fit in. Having good moments. And many bad ones. Ten years later.

What will my life be 10 years from now? I’ll be 47 going on 48. What then? Will this decade feel over in a blink as well? How can I slow it down and make sure it lasts as long as possible – savor every second of it? I don’t know if one can at this age. Time just speeds up. And so there’s time and there’s money. It’s the race of both. You can spend less money. You can’t actually stop time. But to afford to leave the workforce you need a lot of money– and even then the system is rigged against you. That money in the stock market. Sure it will likely keep going up over time. That’s what they tell you. It has in the past. But the past is no indication of what will happen in the future. Though the only way to actually afford the future is to take what you’ve earned and bet on something that likely will go up but really who knows.

I’m too heavy in equities. Too heavy in individual stocks, although mostly in index funds. If the whole market crashes, how much does it matter? Does this mystical, mythical $2M disappear overnight? It doesn’t feel real if it’s not spent and if it’s spent then it isn’t real anymore at all. So it sits there, notated in an overly complex google spreadsheet that I look at each morning to see what it all looks like on that day. I open my computer and start trying to do work for my job that is fulfilling only in when I can help other people do their jobs that I’m uncertain if they find fulfilling or just acceptable in order to earn their own mystical, mythical money. I don’t know. I sit in meetings with senior executives who go off on some rant about something that at best doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the betterment of the world and at worst are stained with sociopathy and that sly smile in passive aggressive attack that only someone with way more money in the bank can slide across their face so damn effortlessly. Everyone is trying to prove to everyone else that they are needed for those ahead of them to win and so even with the best of intentions it becomes this sick game that I’m not cut out to play.

10 years. My father was still alive. Still diagnosed with cancer. Still dying. But alive. Still yelling at my mother. An artist of arrogance. We were all so much younger then. I try to tell myself. 10 years is a long time. 10 years from now my oldest will be 13. Thirteen. My youngest, either 11 or 9 depending if I have another. I’ll hopefully be alive, but 10 years is also a long time for one’s body to attack itself, for health to slowly… or rapidly fail. For my husband to be here or to be ill or not here at all. For my mother to make it to 78 or pass away in her 70s, at an age that no longer inspires those who hear of passing to gasp noting “she was so young” in their condolences. It seems at 70 or maybe 75 it becomes acceptable to die. In ones 80s no one would feel pity over an early death. And 90 is when one feels pity that the person is still living. How fast the years go. Especially if you don’t make the greatest effort to slow them down.

And how can you slow them down? How can I? Well, I feel like there is a choice here. A fork in the road. Like in Squid Game — everyone chooses to play, even after they see what is at stake. Here I am and I see ahead of me 10 years of my children aging from babies to teens and I wonder how much of those 10 years is worth trading for days of panic attacks and feeling horrible at my job and to tired to be much of a mother.

Quit now and move somewhere affordable seems both like an impossible movie plot and an actual life story that could be mine. If only I wanted it enough. And then my husband agreed to it as well. Which would be quite difficult, but if I really knew in my heart it was the right decision — I don’t know — maybe I could convince him we need to leave this place. In a year sell our house. Get away from the rat race. The rat jungle. The rat infestation and bro culture and imposter syndrome and open office spaces and egos and people do don’t have time to connect or build community or they want you to pay a lot to buy in to a community you’ll never be a part of anyway.

If I quit here and stayed here I’d surely eat into my savings quickly. I’d want to do things during the day and going for walks to local parks would get boring after a while, wouldn’t it? There is much to sign up for if you’re a stay at home mom but then you need the money to fund it. Writing is free, at least. But what about my kid’s activities? How do I make sure I have enough to support their lives? I feel that I owe them the upper middle class life I was raised into. I didn’t know how to provide that but somehow through luck and determination here I am. Upper middle class. I guess. It doesn’t feel it. Not like my parent’s generation. One working parent and a nice house with decently nice everything. I’m certainly well off now in most of the world. I certainly don’t feel it.

But I do feel I owe my kids a life at least as good as the one I had growing up. My sister, who makes $14 an hour, refuses to have children because she says she can’t afford them. Yet many people have kids with low incomes — it’s just we were raised into a certain style of childhood and life and we feel our kids deserve at least that. I don’t want my kids to be spoiled. I don’t think I was either. Not horribly so. A little. But not enough to sit on my ass and do nothing. My sister has an incredible work ethic but no belief in herself or her ability to do better. I have random spurts of energy and a character flaw that is my need above all else to prove that I can survive and fit in and thrive in a world that may not be worth surviving.

What if — one year from now — I’m sitting somewhere, some nondescript down maybe — watching waves of a lake-ocean-river-sea crash to shore. Maybe it’s thundering. Or drizzling. Or pouring.  And I’m soaked and running in puddles with my children who are still children. And they don’t remember mom everyday at her laptop working or avoiding working and looking at social media only to be working later when she shouldn’t be because she can’t focus or get anything done. They wouldn’t remember the mess of a house or limited meals but instead clean floors and nutritious fresh food. We’d go on playdates and maybe get to know some people. Really get to know them as friends and build a community, though that’s wishful thinking as being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t suddenly turn me into Miss Popular. But still. What kind of life would that be? One where I am watching my account balances shrink each month instead of grow. I’d be terrified.

That fear is what drives me. But I don’t want to get to 2031 and look back on the last 10 years and say I traded moments for money. I let myself fall into the trap of worrying every single fucking day and waking up each morning feeling sick to my stomach because I know I’ll never do a consistently good enough job at work. Because I’m always on the verge of losing my job and having to admit failure yet again. To pick myself up again. And spend months trying to prove myself. A few victories here and there but nothing enough to stick. And so on. 10 years of that. I don’t know if I can take 10 more years of that.

See, 10 years ago seems like a long time ago. But 4 years ago seems like practically no time at all. Sure, in that time I’ve had two kids and both have grown quite a bit, but that time is all a blur and it doesn’t feel like 4 years it feels like 3 months. Though there is so much of it that I don’t remember. That skips time. And I’m afraid the next 10 years will be that but even faster. So I desperately want to slow the time down. To be present with my family. To take time to be a mom, not a mom who is thinking about the 10 meetings she has the next week while assisting her sons onto an amusement park ride.

I should be grateful that I have the money I do have. It does provide some options. It’s enough to tease me with those options but not enough for the options to be all that real. It’s enough, earned fast enough, to throw in my face that if I leave the workforce I’m not only going to be digging into my savings, but I’m also giving up the opportunity to really get to a place of financial independence for a lifestyle I want to have for my family. Why not a few more months? A few more years? Why not just keep holding my breath until my bank account ticks up to the next hundred thousand? I’m thinking $2.5M before leaving this job, but why not stick around until $3? Why not find another job to take me to $4 or $5M? $5M is the ultimate goal, $200k a year of income from the growth. Maybe then. Maybe then I’ll feel like I can slow down. But when will then be? Will my mind be complete mush by then? It’s hard to say. I just know I’m tired. I’m so tired. I’m tired mentally and physically and I need to sleep. So I’ll sleep now and wonder more about how people make decisions and how I can make decisions and if I’m even allowed to since now I’m a mom and a breadwinner and a home owner and I don’t get to just pick up and change things if they get too hard. This is real adulting. And it better be because I’m fucking old now.