Tag 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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Career Revamp: How to Accept Lost Income and Savings?

I am trying to make it through my job, but at this point I’m acknowledging that my career is just not a fit. I’m very (incredibly) fortunate to be in a position where I’ve been paid a lot, which has allowed me to purchase a home and superfund my children’s college savings accounts. Compared to most of the world I’m in a really good place. It doesn’t feel that way, but I constantly I have to remind myself that I’m doing pretty great.

But it’s still hard to look at the future ahead of me and think about what to do next. I could pretty easily (with the right antidepressant anyway) stay in my current role and continue to earn $200k-$300k per year. If I knew 100% there was something else out there that would be a better fit I would be willing to give that up for lower compensation, but the reality is I don’t actually have any idea if another job would be any better. I could leave this role, take a position for $80k, have to dip into savings for years, and still be completely unhappy — maybe more so.

There are things about my career that aren’t a good fit for me. Some of these things are part of any job but maybe lesser so in another field. Having to influence people is really challenging for me. I am not a good communicator. I’m not great at being organized, but also I’m worse at it when I have a job that requires so much context switching and doesn’t have clear measures of success or completion. I worry that a job with clear measures of success and completion would bore me–when I’m bored I don’t do good work either.

I’m really seeking a career where I can be in “flow” more often than not. Maybe that’s unrealistic. I know I like working on projects where I’m collaborating with a team and building something and being part of that trajectory to create something from nothing and then get it out to the world. I think this is pretty consistent in the few moments in my career and life when I’ve felt in the right place. But this concept is not a career. This concept does not pay the mortgage.

I wish I could just figure out a way to do this job and not feel so horrible about it. But when it comes to creative work I find I’m either all in and doing really good work or I can’t engage at all. I can’t half engage. I can’t just get it done and not care and spend the rest of my day doing other things. It haunts me from the moment I wake up in the morning to the instant I fall asleep, and often even finds it way into my dreams and/or nightmares.

Really all I want is to feel good at something and like I’m actually contributing value. I don’t think I am now. Often I’m told that I must be or else I would’t be paid what I’m paid. Well, someone at the top believes in me despite my being a total mess, but not to the point where he cares to help my career make any sense. My job is to get random things done that are high-stress projects with no clear definition of success other than a bunch of people decide they are ok and then they are done.

The work I have is not impossible time-wise. It’s just impossible in the sense that I cannot do it. Or, I do manage to do it, at the last minute, after a whole lot of stress. Maybe that’s why I get paid so much. Because no one else really wants to do the jobs I do.

I’m just tired. Tired of not knowing what my career is. Tired of feeling like everything could fall out from under me at any moment. I realize I’ll never be perfect at my job, but I would love to have a real career where I start at a lower level and have regular promotions every few years because I’ve actually done a good job. Is it possible for me to do a consistently good job at anything? If I could do ANYTHING what would that be?

I think fundamentally I need to revisit if I’m really a creative person. I’m constantly pushed into creative type roles but I don’t think I’m creative at all. In fact, maybe I’m at the point in my life where I prefer to be quantitative in my work. Not that I know how to be, but maybe that’s an area to explore. I just can’t imagine myself in a job interview where I can hold my own where I’m asked questions about data. I process too slowly. No one would hire me.

And I like to do things my own way, which isn’t how the world works. People want you to know what you’re doing and follow the established path with minor deviations.

Part of me wants a job where I interact with people more. Again, going back to the drawing board — being some kind of counselor… or even a nutritionist? But then I realize that I’m just not mentally well enough to have a job that requires being stable enough to see clients regularly. So that crosses off a lot of jobs out there. I don’t know. Maybe my current job is the best job I’ll ever have. It pays well. It’s not that hard, it’s more like managing a puzzle that constantly has new pieces showing up and you just have to figure out how to put it all together well enough that people don’t realize you’re missing pieces and then you move on to the next puzzle. Nothing ever feels done or good. And that makes me feel sick.

I’m trying hard to start building a life outside of work. To at least focus on my health with exercise and eating well. If my entire career is going to go to shit then the least I can do is make sure I’m as healthy as I can be physically. I have to try to believe that there is an answer out there for me somewhere. I need to find it and I need to drive the change. I need to start believing in myself. I’m embarrassed of how I present myself to people. I’m going to be 40 soon. I need to get my shit together.  On so many levels. I should go to the psychiatrist and get meds and I will soon. I’m not sure how that really helps but maybe it does. I’m willing to try anything right now. To help me stop being this–whoever it is that I am. I need to grow up, grow a pair, and just get on with it. Life isn’t waiting for me and I’m too impatient to wait for it.

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?

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?

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.

When is There Time for Enjoying Life?

Another Saturday. Another October. Another fall. Wasn’t it just two years ago when I was going absolutely batshit in the middle of an undiagnosed mania, which was enjoyable only during a week in London when I wandered around and manically documented fall leaves against cobblestone on Insta? And mostly un-enjoyable when I was thrust into this alter-ego self who isn’t particularly acceptable by any standards of normal socialization. And now, back into fall, two years later, a world later, a pandemic still pandemic-ing later, an infant to toddler to pre-k’er and a new baby who is about to be a toddler later, $1.5M in net worth later, a house purchase and a health scare and a clean MRI later, here I am,  new place, same place, trying to be grateful for everything because I know nothing lasts forever, and failing miserably at embracing gratitude over guilt and grievances. So, same old, or same new.

Fall is a monster of melancholy. Autumn air exhausts exhaustion. I could easily lie in my bed for the following months and not notice how long I’ve been in hibernation despite how mild west coast’s seasonal changes are.

The truth is I’m incredibly overwhelmed, behind, and unable to figure out how to get any of my Iife in order. Having ADHD with a heaping of perfectionism makes it extra hard. My house is chaos. I’m trying, despite not sleeping much last night, to muster up the energy to clean it. Organize it. Ok, so it won’t be a home as in a home that I want to live in, without a private bedroom and instead a living situation I should have never agreed to but let my frugal house-hacking hat take charge in a decision I can’t go back on. It’s not the worst case. It’s a house. We own it. I don’t like being a home owner. I knew I’d be bad at it given I wasn’t the best at maintaining a one bedroom apartment. But there’s still something good about owning. Not financially good. It just feels like a real accomplishment. I haven’t had any accomplishments. None that felt worthy of being called an accomplishment, anyway. I guess graduating college is an accomplishment. Getting a job is an accomplishment. But they never really felt like much of anything to be proud of. Everything was barely completed. A failure in the making. Maybe home ownership is too. But I feel really good about buying a home for my kid’s to live in. I don’t think it makes any sense but it feels good to own a house. I know plenty of parents don’t own and it’s fine to raise kids in apartments but for me that would be rough to accept. I blame growing up with a mother who frequently mentioned the kids in “the apartments” as being poor and thus bad somehow. Not that I believe that now. But still part of me felt like buying a house made it ok for me to have kids. Saving enough to afford them, whatever that means.

But now I have a house. And savings. Nonetheless, I feel incredibly behind. And every moment I feel like I might be getting ahead life plays a joke on me. Like just now. I put my wash up and was just admiring how nice my laundry room floor looks like without the huge pile of clothes on it. And then a big “bang” shakes the ground and my eyes question what they just saw as a giant container of Woolite my husband placed on top of the washer apparently leapt to its death, with the lid flailing off of it and spilling soap all over the remaining pile of clothes and the chord to the Swiffer. Nothing unmanageable as one thing, but life feels like a big pile up of a cluster where you take 2 steps ahead and 3 steps back.

I wanted to be a full time mom on the weekends, with the in-laws NOT taking care of my children, and yet here I am again, 11am, in-laws watching the kids as I attempt to clean up. I’m always cleaning up but never getting anything clean. I also am so tired. I stayed up late catching up on work because the only time I can focus on work is when my son is asleep on me from 9-1am. Which is when I should also be sleeping. I’m still far behind on work. Luckily my actual work requires about 20 hours a week to manage at this point, it’s just the issue of finding uninterrupted time.  I’d give anything for 6 hours straight with no distractions. But that’s impossible since I either have to feed my son or pump. And yes, I can stop breastfeeding at any time but I’m not willing to sacrifice that for work. There are some things I won’t sacrifice and that’s one of them.

(loud thud on cue. Another bottle leaps from the top of my washing machine. This one seems to at least have its cover on tight and no spillage is observed.)

I keep thinking if only I can just get my life together. Just get my house in order. Get caught up at work. Make lists of everything I have to do. Go through the list. At some point. At some point I’ll be able to breathe this breath of fresh air and spend time with my kids in a way that feels relaxing. I will be able to make the case that my in-laws (especially my FIL who lives with us) should stay in his apartment/room on the weekends so I can be a g-d darn mom. That doesn’t mean spending every second with my kids, they should have some boring down time too. I had plenty of that as a kid. I really don’t like that grandpa is with my son from 9-4:30 straight every day.. I’m glad my son started preschool but that’s only 2.5 hours 2 days a week. And I feel like a failure not being a mom right now. Yes I’m writing this blog post. As a break from cleaning. And now a break from cleaning up the spill of soap on the laundry room floor. Before I need to feed my baby around noon, probably, then breastfeed at 1 and put him down for his nap (he’ll only sleep on me or dad and dad is working today so that means I’m stuck in bed from 1-3 or grandma takes him and he doesn’t sleep.)

There is this overwhelming feeling/acceptance at this point that I’ll never actually be able to live the life I want so why the fuck try anymore. That is what led to this idea to quit work in August. I know I’d be ok for a few months without an income but I’m really scared I won’t be able to find something else or if I do that the job will require even more work and less time with my kids. For all the things I don’t like about my current job it really is super flexible while I can work from home (not sure when I have to go back but eventually) and I shouldn’t given this up, even if my income goes down year after year because I’ve been demoted without a pay decrease but I won’t actually get any stock refreshes so there is no way my income will keep up unless I go to a new company. I don’t have the energy to go to a new company. I can barely keep my eyes open.

I wonder if there’s a way to get my life anywhere near where I want it to be. I ponder hiring a cleaning service for the house, then find out cleaning services will cost $350 to come for a one time cleaning and $200+ a month and it seems like I should just learn how to clean my home.

(Another bottle flails off the top of the washer with a loud clunk. Not joking.)

I just want a kitchen table. A non plastic-folding kitchen table. A bedroom with a door. Grout in the kitchen that isn’t brown when it’s supposed to be beige. A refrigerator that holds more food. Sheets that aren’t navy with an olive green comforter my husband bought years ago for camping. A backyard that doesn’t have an accidental tree growing against the wall of my home and breaking the foundation. And trees that aren’t in various stages of dying that need to get looked at for another few thousand dollars.

It’s funny because the more money I have the more I get anxious about it. In investments it doesn’t feel real. But I just know that I need it there as a safety net. I mean, if I were to have $10M I could never work again because it’s impossible for me to spend more than $400k per year if I knew that was something I’d have forever. Not that I need $10M before FIRE, but just saying where I’m at now is not FIRE for me.

A friend I met on a social site for moms in the technology world told me she got hired at a company and will be making 500k a year, and her husband is promoted to a job making 400k a year. They will be making 900k+ a year for the rest of their careers and probably much more as they continue to get promoted. How do I compete with that? I don’t have to compete with THAT but that’s what people are earning here in the Bay Area. Or one-worker families with engineers making like $600k or more. In my current company had I not fucked up I could have been on the high-earner trajectory. I even magically experienced it for a few years (I’ll be making about $600k this year with my stock earnings.) But that’s not forever. That’s not even next year. So just quitting doesn’t seem to be the right answer either. Do I try to convince a FAANG to hire me (they won’t) or do I go back to school or do I give up and convince my husband to move to anywhere else we can buy a house and not have a mortgage so high and where I can actually be awake to see my children on occasion. I don’t know.

I feel really sad is all I know. I should keep cleaning and I probably will. I need to get that soap off the floor. My husband is busy with a project he took on to earn $5k extra a year. That’s good for him. I always complain that he doesn’t take on any extra clients so I should be incredibly supportive. But then I wonder in the extra $5k worth it… $2.5k after tax. For all the work he puts into this project. Especially three days when he needs to be available full time and works into the night. I don’t know. Money is so weird. I know we have more than most people in the country but I’m in this weird bubble of Silicon Valley where money doesn’t make sense.

And I’m just. So. Tired.

 

How Long Can I (Should I) Keep This Job If They’ll Keep Me?

Four years ago, I joined a much smaller company in a role that didn’t have a job description. The total expected compensation was more than I had ever made and I threw myself head first into the excitement of the new opportunity. The energy at the company was great then. Some people were clearly not top performers, but everyone joked a lot together and got along. It wasn’t a well-oiled machine yet in my department, but it was getting there.

A few months later a number of those fun, joking people were shown the door and others who joked in the corporate-appropriate way were let in to take their seats. I managed to come in with the new wave, despite not fitting with the rest of the group, and I flailed through the following years putting out a few good projects and being pregnant, twice (my best projects of all), enabling me to somehow still be gainfully employed to this day, despite plenty of reasons for me not to be.

Covid turned everything upside down and I also owe my current employment to the pandemic. Being able to work remote, heads down, and hide my awkwardness much more efficiently helped a lot. So here I am. Just months away from achieving my initial goal of surviving through my first vesting cycle. It’s a huge win. My net worth growth in the past 4 years has been strong due both to my existing investments and my stock in this company that has proven itself a rocketship.

So now the question is — when do I leave? If I have that choice, anyway. My ego is tore up all sides of Sunday (is that a saying? If it’s not it should be) but maybe that’s fine. I’m not getting any raises or stock refreshes or promotions — EVER — at this company — but does that matter? So what if they’re showing me the door. I can say “see the door, not going to go through it yet, you’re going to have to shove me through it.” And maybe they won’t shove me. Maybe they don’t care enough to do so, especially if I’m getting my basic work done and not causing anyone harm.

Looking ahead to next year, assuming I manage to last at least through April 1, when I plan to likely be heading out that door… I can stick around another year and it would be pretty darn lucrative and probably a decent situation for me as long as I don’t have to go back to the office. Going back to the office is likely a requirement if I want to have any sort of career growth in this company but as I’ve already covered that’s not really possible anyway so the best I can do is focus on getting my projects done, communicating effectively, and hiding as much as possible.

What I don’t want to do is get fired. And it’s hard to not get fired when I’m this bitter. When I see where I thought I’d be and where I feel I have things to contribute being handed to my peer (who happens to be a friend now but still.) A peer who was supposed to report to me when I went out on maternity leave, who was hired to fill in for me when I was having a baby, then who went on to surpass me in so many ways. These things happen but it still hurts. It hurts that he is the go-to trusted ear for my former boss, who I respect a lot, and she prefers to have nothing to do with me these days. I get it, I understand it, but it sucks nonetheless.

My new-ish boss, well things are awkward with him. I’m sure they got more awkward the second he saw how much I’m making. It was weird going from peer to report knowing he likely was making – a lot – less and then having him see how much I was taking home just – well it didn’t really set up our new relationship for success. He hasn’t been an asshole about it but I’m sure he would fire me in heartbeat if I slip up. Luckily I have a few high visibility projects no one else wants that I’ve historically managed well so I keep doing that and maybe… I’m ok? As long as I want to be.

I’m committed to. seriously applying come February. If I can get a better job that pays >$250k with base >$200 I think I need to leave. But it’s all sorts of questionable if I can do that. I’ve had 5 quick rejections from roles I applied to last month, so it’s surely going to be an uphill battle to find anything that is a fit. I might be stuck anyway. So perhaps I ought to try to focus on liking this job and doing my best and all that.

I just wish this job had any legs. Where do I really go from here? Any comparable role requires technical skills I do not have, nor can I gain these technical skills without going back to school and spending a lot of time becoming an expert to be competitive at my level. I’ve been specifically kept out of the projects that actually make sense in the broader industry and am allowed to work on projects that are pretty company specific with no results other than surviving them. So it’s a challenge in building up a story for what’s next, without an opportunity to do anything worthwhile.

Maybe for even $260k that doesn’t matter. Or does it? I have no career. I have no future. All I have is the next two years. It’s not enough to retire on. I still need to figure out what’s next… and how I get there.