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?