If I had my way, I would be a total workaholic. You know those people who are so infatuated with the idea of fairy tale, head-over-heels, love-at-first-sight romance that they immediately fall in love and completely devote themselves to whomever they date? I’m like that with jobs. Whenever I start a new position, I am so sure that this is The One – the job that will become a career that I can really throw myself into and give it my all. And, of course, there are always set backs – I put in a ton of hours on a project that ends up getting scrapped, put in extra efforts that go unnoticed, try to expand my duties and responsibilities only to get pushed back. But I keep trying. And trying. And trying.
But eventually, I hit a wall. And usually that wall has “Dead End” spray painted all over it. I get to a point where I realize that it doesn’t really matter how hard I work or try and put myself out there, I have gone as far as I can go, and when I hit that point, I freak the fuck out. I start to feel trapped and useless. I begin to wonder, then believe, that the reason I’m not getting anywhere isn’t because I’ve hit the end of the road for that particular position, but because I’m not good/smart/hardworking enough to be anything more. I picture doing the same monotonous tasks, day in and day out, until I either retire, get fired (also, a massive anxiety point for me), or die.
In other words, I’m a totally healthy, well-adjusted person. *cough*
I’ve never had a job that I felt could take me anywhere. Mainly, like my current job, I’ve had clerical/administrative jobs – pushing paper, answering phones, filling out reports. They are jobs that I’m really good at and that play in perfectly to my Type-A side that loves to organize and keep things running smoothly, but they aren’t dynamic in anyway. There’s little creativity, usually even lesser respect, and generally uninspiring. I’ve had jobs that were more dynamic, but paid less (customer service) or that I was terrible at (sales, advertising, teaching TEFL courses to adults). And for someone who has a pathological desire to devote herself to what she does for a living, this has become a constant source of anxiety for me.
Lately, that’s where I’m at with my current job – stupefyingly repetitive paperwork, no growth opportunities, plus a boss that only speaks to me when she’s super pissed off at something to boot. The affects have been noticeable; I dread going to work in the morning, watch the clock all day, and leave feeling either drained or stunted. The attempts I’ve made to develop my job into something greater or to pursue a different path within the organization have been dismissed or ignored and the feelings of passivity, of just accepting my lot and continuing on as is, have nearly become fact.
But then I was watching TED talks (which, if you have not seen any TED talks (1) where the hell have you been, and (2) OMG go watch one and then another one and then repeat that until you realize it’s 3:00am but you’re going to just watch one more because they are truly that awesome), and found inspiration in the talk by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook:
While the topic of her talk isn’t exactly on point with my situation, there was so much in it that I needed to hear: sit at the table, keep your hand raised, don’t leave before you leave. Don’t bow out or down just because it seems like it’s the only way and don’t sell yourself short. Don’t accept things for how they are – fight for what you want it to be. While I’m pretty sure that my current position is not the career path I want, that doesn’t mean I need to stay on it forever. Just because all I can do now is push around the same pieces of paper doesn’t mean that’s all I can do. So, I’m going to look for more, and while I’m looking elsewhere, I’m going to keep trying to make where I am better.
After all, just because it isn’t worth giving my all to my job, nothing is going to stop me from giving my all to my life.