While I never thought it possible, my job broke my heart.
I have worked professionally since 2000, and have continued to gain further education in my specialty to include a master’s and doctoral degree along with my greater than 20 years of experience. I have continuously made choices to gain new expertise, gain different management opportunities, and I’ve been promoted many times.
Even with these positive events, I still feel let down by my job, worse than any love has ever let me down.
I also want to explain that I have had some losses in love that were very significant. I dated a man since I was 19 years old and after seven years of dating, we married. Unfortunately, I had the strong feeling that we were not right for each other two weeks after meeting him and I was not wrong. It took me 14 years in total to come full circle to that concept and ask for a divorce. I was raised not to divorce; you stay no matter what. I laughed or scoffed at the movie quote in “The Departed” when the main character tells his fiancé that if their relationship is “not going to work, she would need to leave because he is Irish and would deal with something being wrong for the rest of his life.” That quote made me choke on the beverage that I was drinking because it hit me between the eyes as an aha moment. I do this. I’m Irish and was raised this way. It’s not right and needs to change.
“The Departed” movie came out in 2006, two years after I got married. I knew then that I was staying only because it was what I was taught to do and not because it is what I wanted. We went to marriage counselling for a bit but with no better outcome, and in 2010, I asked for a divorce. While this seems like a clinical account of this relationship, it was truly heartbreaking to leave. I broke my own heart. I was resentful that I had accepted less and stayed so long. I was resentful that I had passed up better suiters over these 14 years because I was too timid to say what I wanted and to stand strong by my needs. I was so angry that I couldn’t better communicate what it was that I needed, and what I would and would not accept. Subsequently, I punished myself after the divorce by dating another person who wasn’t right for me, who really taught me why I need to listen to myself and obey my gut instincts. Thankfully, I made it out from under those situations and found my true partner in life, and I’ve been with him for almost 10 years now, married for four.
So, why would I accept less in my professional work than I think I deserve? Well, work isn’t really about what we think we deserve, but rather what our boss or company thinks we deserve. Additionally, I like living indoors, here in New England, so I need to work since I have not yet become financially independent of a job. What is it that I think I deserve? Well, I think I should be working at my educational level and creating programs. I would like to feel valuable and needed for the work to improve. While I have made some improvements in my current role, I didn’t make them on my own. I don’t lead or own anything solely and that is very disappointing to me at this stage. Am I punishing myself now like I did after I ended my marriage? Maybe I’m never satisfied. The thing is, I am satisfied with some aspects in my life—just not my job.
Two things have resonated with me from professional talks I’ve attended:
1. What you permit, you promote. That blew my mind, because it’s so true for everything we allow in our lives, we are saying: I want more of this! Mind blown.
When you boil it down, it comes to this: What is it you want to allow in your life and are those the things you do? If you asked a friend or family member to describe you, what would they? Are those the things you want more of in your life?
2. If your values and your mission don’t align with your boss or workplace any longer, then it is time to find a new job. Now not everyone can fully appreciate this because most of us do need to work and have a steady income. That said, if we have some flexibility, we can try to find a better fit for us or change aspects of our lives that lead to us meeting our goals in the best possible way. Maybe a goal is to get to retirement, so even if the role isn’t the best fit, we are willing to stay the course to get to the end goal.
I know there is no perfect job out there. That all work that is done for someone else comes with a cost benefit ratio we need to evaluate. Even still, I am hopeful; just as I was when I asked to end my marriage, I believed that there was something better out there. Better can be work that feeds me, colleagues who believe in my skills and build me up rather than tearing me apart.
When I ended my marriage, I was completely prepared to spend my life alone. I already felt alone and would have rather been alone than with the wrong person. I again feel this way with my work. Just because I like the perks of working from home, I will not stay in a role that does not feed me. At this point, I’m hitting the reset button and taking a role that will require me to commute more miles every day, rather than only some days in the hopes that I can shine once more. I have one big role left in me and I’m going to give it my all.