Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Falling Into Place

I’m pretty chatty. Not as chatty as some people, but on a scale of tight-lipped to very chatty, I definitely fall right of center. I tend to be open about the majority of happenings my life, not to mention the stuff that is pissing me off, and if I have a few drinks, I’ll probably tell you everything else. That is why the last couple of months have been an exercise in self control for yours truly.

First of all, for those of you wondering, which I’m sure is none of you, I did actually follow through on my threat to apply to graduate school. I applied in March and waited. As I waited to receive an answer from the program, things started happening. Good things, things that suggested that things might work out better than expected. And I kept it all to myself... for the most part.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve been dissatisfied with my job for some time now. In truth I was unhappy with my previous job at the agency, the one I left to come to here, but that was more about the agency lifestyle and whether or not I really wanted to be marketing pharmaceutical products. I didn’t realize until I left that I took being valued, encouraged, thanked, and respected as part of a strong, engaged team for granted.

At the non-profit I work for now, life is different (and for those of you whom I work with, my opinion does not reflect how things work in other departments, only my department), and it’s hard to explain unless you’ve lived it, but I’m going to try. On one hand, this is probably the easiest, most consequence-free job I will ever have. A few of my colleagues and I joke about how “attendance is optional” in our office--not in policy, but in practice. And while pretty much everything I’ve done here either falls in the category of “wrong” or “completely ignored,” nothing changes; there are no repercussions, and ultimately, no one cares.

I have found it hard to be motivated under these conditions and yes, admittedly, my work has suffered. Clashes of personalities, no real management or direction, a demoralized staff, a disengaged team that barely speaks to each other unless to play the blame game, the absence of reward or even recognition, all of this has contributed to my general apathy toward work, and if anything, anywhere is true, it’s that mediocrity breeds mediocrity. It sucks the life out you, makes you question your value/talent/drive, etc., and fucks with your self-esteem, but at the same time, when you have a job that allows you to perpetually show up late and leave early (that is if you are so inclined to show up at all), why would you leave it? Particularly coming from the agency world where 10-12 hour days are the norm, the idea of leaving, of really looking for another job that might require me to actually get involved with my work and stay until 5pm, seemed daunting.

This all changed in April, when I was out on a Wednesday night celebrating the birthday of one of MM's cousins. The birthday girl happens to both be a student and an employee at the university I applied to for graduate school, which will, from here on out, simply be known as The University. On a whim, at the end of lovely, long dinner, I asked her, “Are there any marketing jobs at The University?” The answer was not only “yes,” but as it happened, the department down the hall from her was looking to fill a position that sounded as if it had been created for me. The next day, she passed my resume along. Two weeks later I had a brief phone interview with the hiring manager. A week after that I sat through a horrible board meeting at my current job where I was told the marketing for basically everything we do is wrong. When I got home from the meeting, distraught and angry, MM handed me my acceptance letter to the graduate program at The University. Shortly thereafter, I heard back from the hiring manager. Two interviews and a long HR process later, I was offered the job, and I have accepted. I am very excited about this opportunity. It's definitely a more focused position, which I think I will thrive in, and I seem to be a solid "personality" fit for the team. Plus, my new boss is clearly sweet as she already forwarded me information about a writing event The University is having just because she thought I might be interested--and it's true! I am interested!

I went back through some blog posts, which provide a fairly reliable record of the major happenings in my life for the last three years, to see what I wrote when I quit my job at the agency in late June 2006. It’s amazing having all this information written down in one place. Three years go by and everything changes. I’m getting married, turning 30, starting a new job, going back to school again (not necessarily in this order). I feel as though each documented step, running and otherwise, has been a step toward the life I am supposed to be leading. And despite the fact that my current job has been a crappy work situation, coming here served a purpose, though an unexpected one. I found my friends here. I mean, not all of them, but if you have ever moved to a new place as an adult, you know that your opportunities to meet friends are somewhat more limited than they were when you were younger. The people I met and the turns my life took while at this job gave me a reason stay in Chicago. I did not have that before. I kind of think of it this way: The agency gave me a reason to come; the non-profit gave me a reason to stay; and I’m hopeful that The University will give me a place to settle. It certainly feels like it’s possible. Right now, most things feel possible, which is kind of the same feeling you get when you run a marathon... or a half marathon.

See? We've come full circle.