I have never, ever been the kind of person who looks to their job for gratification or some fulfillment of happiness. Sure, days are easier when you like your job--but when it comes to happiness the last place I'm looking is my professional life. A job is a job is a job. Whether its your dream job or a job for the now, it should be what you do not who you are At least that is my perspective--life, friends and family is where I find my happiness. Even still, the last year had been very tough on me. I had been in a job I didn't really like very much because I wasn't challenged and undervalued.
I constantly felt bored, having an hour every day between tasks to troll Etsy for things I didn't need and would never buy. And even though I was very good at my job and always got verbal praise, the financial praise never came. No one ever seemed interested in giving me more work, even though it seemed like I was begging for it at times; whenever a position in my department opened up with room for growth I was constantly told that in time that would be appropriate for me, but for now I needed to grow more. Grow? I felt like I was bursting at the seems waiting to be challenged, to be engaged, to do more!
The straw that broke the camels back came last May. It started with management asking to me to help on some administrative stuff on the submission of a multi-million dollar grant. You know, no big deal just stuff like numbering pages, changing headers. Essentially looking for consistency. But after a few days I started to feel like things were really started being dumped on me. I was being asked to do research, change budget number, collect signatures on contracts, and a whole slew of things that went beyond my pay grade. All I kept thinking was how these things were so not my job, and I would be open to doing these things except there actually is someone who is paid to do these things. There is someone who was given this job because they were classified as competent. And oddly enough, this person had no clue what they were doing and shuffled through papers whenever someone pointed out this incompetence. Yet here I am, the dummy of all dummies, doing work that someone else is getting paid for while simultaneous being told that I am not at the level I need to be in order to have a position like that.
When all was said and done, I found myself having racked up 15hrs in overtime in one week, working at my cubicle through the weekend, and being only one of two people helping with the submission that came down to the wire. And what was my thank you? A bonus? A promotion? Ahhh you all are just dreamers! I came to work on Monday morning to find a $10 Starbucks gift card sitting on my keyboard. In that moment the rage boiled over to the point where I took the gift card straight to the shredder and let that baby die.
From that day I knew I had enough and it was time to move on. The thing about not being valued is that it begins to take a real toll on how you view yourself. At first I thought maybe I wasn't working hard enough which was why I wasn't being recognized for my work. Then as I worked harder I thought maybe I wasn't showing how I could go above and beyond. Then when I went above and beyond and beyond and to infinity and beyond and still got no recognition, I thought there really just must be something wrong with me. I must be doing something wrong that people don't see my effort. These feelings never took a toll on my work ethic, but rather on my self worth. I am someone who has worked since I was 13 yeas old. I was always told how good I was at my various jobs and often promoted or praised for my efforts. What was I doing wrong this time?
After months of these feelings I knew I had to do something to get the ball rolling for things to change. Finally I took a leap (after much encouragement from my boyfriend and family) and applied for a job that, in my head, was way out of my league. To my surprise I got an interview, and to my even greater surprise I got the job two hours after I walked out of the interview. Glowing with happiness and excitement, I locked myself in the office next to my cubicle and did a dance and leap for this fresh start that at times felt like would never come The following Monday I informed my superior that I got a promotion and would be leaving the department. And rather than experiencing happiness and showing support for me moving on to bigger and better things, the reaction was less than I expected.
The strange thing was, every one of my peers was so happy for me but every one of my superiors met me with the same reaction. "Oh, you're leaving us? Oh my god. Um okay. Well I guess congratulations. That's good for you. It's going to be so tough to figure everything out before you leave." Words that I so desperately needed to hear. Because in that moment I realized exactly why I wasn't getting anywhere even with all my hard work. It was in that moment that I realized that people are willing to hold you back so that they can keep you and not have to search for someone to fill the very big shoes you have created. The old cliche that people will hold you back so that they can get ahead wasn't applicable in this situation. People were holding me back so that I wouldn't realize my full potential and to make feel as though my only option was to swim in place.
Two weeks into my new job and I couldn't be happier. I have pushed away all that negativity and harbored resentment that I held for so long and feel this flush of positive energy. Everyone around me seems genuinely happy to have me here and finally, after three years of it sinking to the bottom, my confidence in my abilities and work have swam to the surface again.