Exactly one month ago, I started a new job, to many huzzahs from supportive friends and family, which I heartily concurred with. The industry is new to me, the travel torments me, but the stand-out thing I’m experiencing is the unmistakable feeling of being a square peg in a round hole.
Has that ever happened to you?
If my job was a new boyfriend, and I’d spent this many hours with him over the past month, that would a) reek ever so slightly of desperation/infatuation, and b) would absolutely be enough time for me to know if there was a future with him or not. There’s not, so I would have walked away by now. People would most likely be supportive of that choice, because it would be ‘settling’ at worst, and just plain sad at best, to continue to try and make something from nothing. It’s nobody’s fault, it just isn’t meant to be. No biggie, right?
Work isn’t like that though. People have all kinds of opinions about work and what we should endure to get a wage. I have opinions on that subject, and they don’t include bowing to abusive, ill-mannered turds who think because they pay the wages, they can treat people like shit. Those days are long gone. Nobody should have to sacrifice their dignity or mental health to an employer.
You are more important than your earning capacity.
While we’re on the subject, you should click here and read about my friend Sarah’s current experience with the stress that comes when unemployment lingers. She raises some great questions about the taboos around talking about this issue. We must talk about it, I’m glad she’s talking about it. Perhaps reading her post will get you talking about it too.
Back to my square peg, round hole situation, this week I spoke with my manager about where I’m at, about how I feel ill-equipped to do the job, and how I’m finding myself despondent and blue each weekend, how there have been tears and worries. She was very responsive to me, as we have a good rapport.
I’m not quitting, but I have no intention of staying in a place where I simply don’t have the gifts to flourish and contribute meaningfully to a company, just to take their money. That’s not okay with me, never has been, never will be. And I think they’d notice my sub-par performance.
I have great skills, and I have gaps in my skill set, as everyone does. This job is almost entirely made up of the things that fall outside my strengths. Almost entirely! What they do see in me is someone experienced, someone who can mentor their younger staff, someone moderately sensible and mature and I agree with them on those counts. What they failed to consider, and failed to ask me much about, was my strengths in numeracy and in using accounting software. I’m here to tell you, I suck at those things. I have made fantastic mistakes that I can’t even begin to trace back; it’s just a black hole to me.
The school of thought that I’ll pick it up seems reasonable, but I sincerely doubt that’ll happen. I wouldn’t take a job as a translator at the Latvian Embassy, as I don’t speak Latvian. Could I learn it? Sure, technically a person can learn anything, but would it be profitable for the Latvians to hire me, not so much. I’m sure I’d look fetching in their national costume, but there are other people out there with Latvian verb conjugation skills who would be perfect for that job.
What’s a girl to do in such a situation? I don’t have a game plan or an exit strategy. All I can do is be straightforward and up front with them about where I’m at, continue attempting to learn an utterly foreign language and hope that I don’t do too much damage in the process. I may pick it up, I doubt it, but it may happen. If it does, that’s great. If not, that’s okay too.
It’s okay not to fit someone else’s expectations for you.
That goes way beyond work and out into life, don’t you think?
Non-conformism is a perfectly acceptable state of being. Not simply to be an arsehole, but there’s no merit in trying to look just like the next person. In fact, to me, it’s kind of horrifying to strive for such conformity.
Vanilla is a nice flavour, but it’s not the only thing I want to taste.
Square pegs and round pegs both have their place. The world needs both.
We need our individuality and our different points of view.
We need people who see the world just a bit differently to us, so we can think, ‘huh, maybe they have a point’ like I did yesterday, when my friend Sue was making some excellent points about the potential someone standing for the godforsaken election has to be of service to their constituents. (By the way, how effing annoying are the true believers who are milling about the shops on Saturdays handing out flyers and poorly made totes?)
These things I’m facing have me thinking again about a topic that I delve into semi-regularly, and that’s how we cope with disappointments.
What happens when we put all our eggs in one basket, whether that basket is labelled career, or a long term romantic relationship, or parenthood, or success in an artistic endeavour, and in spite of all our efforts and desire and determination, it doesn’t happen? What then?
Who are we beyond the things we strive for and want with all our hearts?
When is it time to lay a dream down?
Can we still find meaning with a broken heart?
It’s something I think about often, how deeply primal, yet potentially crushing it is to long for some thing or someone to make us okay, to fill us up, to sate all our soul’s shadowy whispers about who we are and where our worth stems from.
Happy blog post land this is!
Really, I don’t find this kind of thing Debbie Downer-ish, I just like to think about stuff.
I’m not my job; I’ve learned that lesson well. I will do my best where I am and if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay. I will be fine. In fact, I’ll be better off in a place where I can offer my strengths and smarts to people that need them.
And if you’re nursing an unfulfilled dream, a hope that seems inextricably tied to your soul’s survival, I just want to say to you, with no intention to sound pessimistic or insensitively shitty, I believe you can be okay too, with or without that thing.
We aren’t just the things we pursue, no matter how pure they are, or how deep the desire is.
Life has taught me that redirection and detour can be the best, most fulfilling paths, even if they are paths we would never, ever choose for ourselves.
We humans are a resilient bunch, even when we don’t feel like it.
Gosh, how am I going to tie this post up in a neat bow? I’m not sure I can.
Perhaps I’ll just leave you with this: thoughtful reflection never killed anyone, as far as I’m aware. If you’ve been pushing down a niggle or an eruption of questioning where you’re at, of feeling dissatisfaction or hurt, of feeling trapped or defeated by delays in the things you want from life, you’re not alone.
We have all been there, or will all be there, more than once.
Reach out to someone. Talk to someone. Talk to yourself, honestly, about what’s on your heart.
I believe we are strengthened by being vulnerable and honest with ourselves.
I believe we can find new paths when the paths we’re on fall out from under our feet, or get covered by brambles. Do I believe this is easy? Fuck no.
Most of all, I believe in you. In your soul’s beauty, in your worth as you are, at this very moment.
You make me hopeful and I write for you.
I write for you and I cheer for you.
PS. I really value our conversation. Drop me a line, how are you? What’s good? What’s challenging? What are you proud of? Braggers welcome!
Double PS. Don’t forget to do this, okay?
24 thoughts on “On work, and hope, and disappointment”
Bless your heart sweet chicken and your ponderings. I believe we are all where we need to be right now in this exact moment. We are learning from the good, the bad, the hard, the hurtful, then inspiring, the depressing, the searching, the longing the everything. The pennies drop, or stars align or the light bulb moment happens in the mix of all these things where our soul deepens in understanding. A redirection of a hope or dream not grasped in it’s original form is what I call yet another destination on the soul journey. Sitting at that destination can have it’s own possibilities and opportunities for contentment. I sometimes think about the “what if I don’t” with my dreams and at the end of the day all I can tell you for sure is that I just keep on keeping on learning and growing and see what destinations I end up at.
You’re awesome. The keep on learning spirit is the one to go for isn’t it? We can’t control this ride, all we can do is stay open, whether that’s freshly broken open or healing well 💗💗💗💗💗 thank you Trudie xxx
There is so much here Annette and I’m not sure I can do it all justice right now as I need to get the kids up to the shops and do some printing for an up coming 6 year olds Octonauts party. But beneath party planning and job hunting and school drop and school lunches and washing, these thoughts are with me daily – who am I, what do I want, how do I bring more of what I truly desire into the life I have without allowing my thoughts and wants to turn to striving, grasping and to wander too far afield from gratitude and equanimity with what IS. It’s a balancing act. That’s the best I can do for now, but loved this thought provoking post. x
Oh Kate, that’s a pretty great on-the-fly response. It’s so important to keep our who at the centre isn’t it? Not the dreams, the desires, the “when I conquer this or that” but to accept that who we are, in the midst of jobs that don’t fit and school lunches and getting to the shops and washing, that’s the crux of being content I reckon. Thanks for reading, and taking time to comment. See you soon I hope.
Hey Annette, and thank you for the shout out. I so believe we need to talk about this. Unemployment, especially in our age group, is growing and yet it seems we aren’t allowed to talk about it. We are told that we need to be grateful for any employment even if that work is sucking the life out of us to make someone else money, even if that job is paying far less than we have trained for and have experience for. And if we choose to wait, to find that role that may or may not fulfil us, or be the best possible fit for us (because, you know, nothing is ever perfect), we are told we are foolhardy. I have issues with the whole machine of capitalism and economics of the modern era. But I am so much of a lone ranger in that sphere of thinking I rarely talk about it, because like I mentioned above, we are ostracised if we don’t get with the program and act damn grateful for the job that may be offered.
My advice to you, for what it is worth, is to probably look for another role. Numbers are definitely not my thing either, and even though I could do them, I would rather stick pins in my eyes than learn. Life is too short and I know that bills have to be paid, and jobs are thin on the ground, but it’s probably worth looking for something that feeds you, rather than sucks you dry.
Personally, I am not sure a place such as this exists for me. But it may for you. You may yet find a hole for your square peg, and by goodness we do need the square pegs in this world. Thanks for your thoughts, we need those too. xx
I think we need to get ourselves badges – proud square pegs!!
Really appreciate your thoughtful insights on this, and many other subjects Sarah.
Looking again is definitely on the cards, but if I can, the right thing to do is get through July where I am, and then have another conversation.
All the best to Mr C in the hunt, fan that flickering spark of hope, we need it.
I like your thoughts. I’m with you – reflection, even when deep, doesn’t have to be melancholy. Sounds like, whatever else isn’t working at work, you have a great boss who’s open to discussion. You couldn’t have that conversation with every boss. Perhaps even most bosses. Wishing you luck x
Thanks Emily, it’s definitely making things easier for me, to be able to have open lines of communication. I doubt they’ll be so happy if they have to go through the hiring process again, but we’re not there yet.
The older I get, the more I listen to my gut on these things.
sorry to hear that your job isn’t ideal annette!
and that you have to do the maths hun!
i’d be sacked on the first day!
all jokes aside! I know all about square pegs in round holes!
I was conditioned to be miss goody two shoes! so I was!
but by and by I developed and changed because I sought it!
I was always chosen in ballet to be the boy, the black sheep, the different otherness was shining bright even then! … so I ran with my curious, inventive mind and created my own world! … akin to sophie’s! and alice’s! I like it! but it doesn’t go with “normal” thinking!
I think I have developed a chameleon persona and I can fit in anywhere, just for survival purposes!
I am lucky now, not to have to show up, fit in and perform to the prescribed points of view and unreal expectations! … but that is the workplace and I think people then identify with that and they loose their identities! … what ever happened to i’m an individual! a genuine original! … YES!
I know a few people who are over qualified for the jobs they are doing!
wonder if the pollies would like those circumstances to deal with on a daily basis!
this is a bit disjointed, but you get my drift! ;))
I hope you find a niche, that’s just right for you hun!
all the best! we hear you and are here for you!
much love m:)X
You’re still shining bright Merilyn!
I’ll find my way, this is just a pit stop.
Think you are approaching all of this really well. I know how excited to start this job, but like your comparison to dating- if you know in your gut that this is not something easily fixed over time the. You have to do what is right for you xx
I’m hanging in there, but the seek app is back on my phone and tablet!
Cheering for YOU Annette, awesome post xo
How sweet – I’m all for being cheered on! Thank you xx
This is the good shit. I reckon we’re pretty similar, so when you mentioned accountancy software a little piece of me died. I applaud you for giving it a go, because I’d have to relegate that to the pile of ‘things I’m shit at’. See also: speaking Latvian, dancing, adding up. You’ll make the right decision, for the right reasons, I just know it X
Lisa, you may be right there, about our similarities, and that number loving embassy definitely isn’t the place for me. Even yesterday, I was making invoicing mistakes and was completely oblivious to them. I’ll stick it out for a little longer, to cover someone’s holiday, then you may read that I’ve ditched my Latvian national costume and never looked back! ✌🏼️
Work is such a hard thing. There is a measure of “well, I need to pay rent, therefore I should suck it up and just get on with it.” At the same time, you spend so much of your time at work that it has to be fulfilling. I don’t think it needs to be fun or easy, but I do think you need a sense of fulfilment — of having achieved something. I think your open approach is the way to go — both with your employer and being attuned to new possibilities.
Thanks Robyna, it’s a balancing act isn’t it? I think I’ve got realistic expectations. Every job has its moments, but to persevere where you don’t flourish or fit, that’s just not smart or necessary. There are other opportunities out there.
sorry to hear you are having a tough time at work Annette. It’s tough being an adult isn’t it! so much pressure, so many obligations.
It’s good to ponder, we all do it and we should do it more often.
I hope you find what your heart wants.
Have a sleep in tomorrow and enjoy the long weekend x
The long weekend has been great, though I did find myself laying in bed from midnight to after 1am this morning feeling stressed about work. Luckily, my obligations and responsibilities are much lighter than a lot of people’s. Actually, that’s not luck, it’s by design. Really, I just want to live simply and quietly, and use my gifts and talents with joy and freedom.
Oh Annette that’s a shame. I came to look at your posts because I was still laughing about the Coles thang!!
I don’t think I can give such eloquent responses as the ones above but I love that you blurt all this out so authentically. I love that.
I once took a job where I had no support at all, I was thrown in and spent all the budget and spent quite a few nights on the back step sobbing at 2am. My boss was not as helpful as yours in terms of understanding. After about 8 weeks I realised I really didn’t want to move into that area anyway when 8 weeks before I was convinced. So sometimes just going through the process is good eh?
I’d actually be much better at that job now, years later but at the time it was awful! At the time I just wanted to wear nice shoes and work in the city. It totally wasn’t worth it and the coffee shop was shit and I kept getting trapped in the toilet!
You’ll work it out for sure. I can see that. And I love that you’re chatting about it, I needed to read this post back then. It would have saved some trauma!!
Things change. Love that xx
Things have changed already, and I’m happy with that.
I’ll be working casually for the AEC soon, then putting my thinking cap on about what to do after that.
Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated!
Hey Nettie. I haven’t written a comment on your blog for ages, I have been reading it though.
I have just set up my writing desk so hopefully that gets me back in the regularity of reading and then commenting. I just can’t seem to comment when I am on my phone. Perhaps because I like to write something with more weight than ‘sounds awesome!’ ‘love it!’
I know as I am reading this that you have decided to leave the position (read via FB) and I am so glad you did, girl.
No job is worth the tightness in your tummy as you wake up. I know you will find something that is the right fit for you.
I am looking forward to reading about your mini holiday with Rachel! xxxx
(PS I have attached the link to my wordpress blog, I have imported it from Blogger to wordpress in view of Pips upcoming course, I am still working out teething problems if you do take a peep)
Tash, you are just lovely. I’ve finished up at the Latvian Embassy and am cool with that. Thanks for the blog link.
I just read all your posts and it makes me so happy that you’re settling into a new place, a new lifestyle and that you’re clearly enjoying your new beardy love. Good on you lady!
Looking forward to hanging out online as we do Pip’s next course.