I am rapidly coming up on my 20-year anniversary of “public service,” i.e., getting paid way too much to do meaningless, regulatory nonsense that provides no discernible benefit to the world around me. Twenty years as of December 23, 2016. TWENTY years. Yes, yes, I realize that it is only May but here in the land of Nod I’ll get my very special (i.e., printed on card stock) certificate thanking me for my 20 years of dedicated (ha!) service at the Divisional awards ceremony this summer (or next?).
Since I tend to think of things in school year rather than calendar year or fiscal year terms, 2016/2017 is going to be a big year – 25 years since I graduated from high school. 20 years since I graduated from SJU with my MS in “Theories I’ll Never Use.” 20 years since I started working for an actual living and paying for my own health insurance. That is followed immediately by 20 years of marriage to my long-suffering husband too. Big year.
So with almost 20 years under my belt, I find myself pondering the big questions. Things like, “WHAT THE HELL AM I STILL DOING HERE?”
I’ve been in my current position for almost 17 of those almost 20 years.
Time to make a change?
After the whole…unpleasantness…of a little over a year ago, things once again settled down to homeostasis. I’m doing what I do and, after a few months of no sleep, crazy anxiety, and a dip into Darkness all caused by a very misguided and ineffective change in medication, I’m doing it fairly well. I get bored really easily. And distracted. And sometimes wish I could just take a nap rather than try and juggle approximately 23 “really important” tasks that all have a short deadline. But work gets done - for whatever that is worth (nothing, actually).
A couple of months ago, before I was actually sleeping again, I pushed through the anxiety, stretched myself, and talked to a Really Important Person (RIP) about the possibility of a promotion to “Expert at My Job” someday. The person who previously served in that illustrious and exalted role moved on to greener pastures and, though all his work fell on yours truly who stepped in and continues to fill those shoes pretty effectively (unofficial office motto: go ask CariP), he apparently took the title and pay increase with him into retirement. Poof. The RIP thought it was a great idea. And she was all for it. But not right now. Someday soon. Maybe after the election? Check back later. That was about what I expected from the conversation and I’m still expelling the smoke from my nether regions.
Enter this March the Notice of A New Position! With a temporary promotion! That lasts 2 years! And puts you in the sphere of ALL the Really Important People! But act fast because you have a week to apply! Answer these 15 questions on your resume and convince someone who has never met you and has no idea what you do every day that you are more qualified than the other 150 people who will apply. I managed to get my 12 page resume (12 pages!) submitted on time – after spending a weekend writing it – and then waited. The application was accepted. Check. Then passed on to the Agency. Check. And then scored as qualified. Check, check. A few weeks later, I got a meeting request for an interview. Check.
With my current supervisor.
Yes. This one.
I considered withdrawing completely, but decided to stick it out. I talked to a couple of people at work, cursed the unfairness of having a person with a strong self interest in keeping me where I am making the decision, and pondered taking the whole notion of interviewing for a promotion with a person who has made me cry and then mocked me for it to the union, but…I’m not that kind of person.
Also, I hate the union on principle.
Instead, I decided that I would be okay regardless and that I wouldn’t spend a lot of time stressing about the interview. That I would do my best. Be myself. Smile and act confidently. And then find a way to make myself happy in my current job.
The interview went about as well as you might imagine. I was beyond uncomfortable. I did not shine as brightly as I might have wished. I know it wasn’t a home run and that I could have done better. But…I did it. It’s over, and now the real work of figuring out what I want to spend the next 15 years doing needs to start because it is pretty safe to assume that it will not be in the New Position.
As part of that discovery process (can someone who is abot to turn 43 and has been working for 20 years really discover anything???), I signed up for an online conference called the Work By Design summit. A blog I read on occasion was advertising it and I looked at it, at the great line up of Christian writers/bloggers that were on the agenda, and the price (free for the baseline access) and thought "What the Hell?" There are three 30 minute interviews a day which I’ve listened to after the fact while I’m working on mindless tasks at work. I’m really enjoying it and it is motivating me to check out the blogs and books for each of the speakers although I haven't had time to do anything except book mark them for later. I’m not sure how much motivation I have to really do some deep thinking and make changes (read: I’m a chicken-sh*t) but I’m going to try in spite of the anxiety it kicks up.
Here are some of the questions I’m going to be pondering over the coming months:
1. If money were no object, what would you like to do as your vocation? [can it be vacation instead of vocation? That's easier to answer.]
2. What is something that energizes you when you do it? [you mean other than sleep?]
3. What are some jobs you’ve had in the past that you loved and what did you love about them? [ummmmmmm.....does that even exist?????]
4. What do other people say you are good at?
While I’m busy thinking of something I’d actually LIKE to do for a living (or let’s start with a hobby, shall we? That's slightly less scary/daunting/anxiety producing.), I’ll ask for your kind indulgence and polite feedback on what I might be good at (or conversely things at which I well and truly suck - for example, positive self talk, optimism, foreign languages, gymnastics). I’ve asked a few friends at work as well although friends in that context may be slightly more loosely applied.