Yesterday I had my yearly review at work. It was a little strange, timing-wise, since I've only been back a few days. But at the same time, the odd timing really made me see something.
Over the past year, with my health being what it was... basically being burdened with an unknown illness marked by unexplained symptoms that were not exactly something I was openly talking about with everyone - especially at work, (namely, that I was bleeding uncontrollably for months on end from places you don't talk about at your job unless you're a porn star or Margaret Cho) and being told by doctor after doctor and test after test that nothing was wrong with me ...I was so unhappy! I felt completely defective. I was depressed. I put on weight. I felt ugly. My sex life completely disappeared. (Who wants to get it on when you know it's going to end up in humiliating blood all over everyone's... everything?) I was working fewer hours and making less money. Self-medicating with ice cream and cheeseburgers. And generally feeling terrible about myself and everything to do with me.
And so in my mind, I took a lot of it out on my job. I bitched and complained about how terrible it was. Because I hated myself, I decided that my bosses and some of my coworkers hated me, too. I translated never having enough money to do anything into being underpaid because I was unappreciated (not being underpaid because I work in an underpaid industry AND in a failing economy). I let myself believe that they all thought I was worthless. And as much as it pissed me off that they would think such a thing, I was really the only one who believed it. But what I see now is that that had nothing to do with anything they were or weren't doing or saying to me. It was because I was so unhappy with myself. The unexplained symptoms that invaded every minute of my life, that I couldn't even forget while sleeping because I was always filled with anxiety over the possibility of bleeding through my pajamas and all over my bed... they were destroying how I felt about ME. And in doing so, were destroying how I felt about everything that involved me. My job in particular.
Now, I'm not saying that I don't think I'm great at what I do - because I'm fucking awesome at it. And I won't say that I don't fully believe I am worth WAY more where salary is concerned - because I make less now than I made more than a decade and a half ago (with more than a decade and a half less experience). Nor will I say that I think there weren't instances where my talents and abilities were overlooked or just not believed/trusted in - because I'm positive that all of these things were true at some time or another during the past year. And yes, all of these things pissed me off, and rightly so. But when I look at the big picture, my real unhappiness came not from the place I was in, but from inside me.
And it got me thinking... how common is this? Do you suppose that a lot of people who "hate their jobs" are really just unhappy with themselves or their lives in general? I bet it happens more than we'd all like to admit.
Anyhow. Part of my point is also that I was just in no place over the past year to be making any sort of judgments of anyone or anything or anyplace. I was too big a wreck myself to truly recognize what was wrong outside of ME. Again, I'm not saying that I think my workplace runs like a well-oiled machine or anything. It's actually pretty disorganized and chaotic a lot of the time, which is sad when you look at the fact that we've been in business for over a century. Part of my goal in my return is to figure out how to better organize things. To find ways make the days run more smoothly and find solutions to lessen the chaos that has been built into the system and does not need to be there. I think that's a pretty good goal.
On the whole, I feel much happier to be back at work. I think my experience has made me more positive overall and I hope that that positivity rubs off on the others there. But I also feel more inclined to accept the fact that I cannot work there forever. Because I DON'T make enough money to survive and the resentment WILL continue to rear it's ugly head as the years pass with me struggling to get by financially. Do I enjoy it now? Yes. Yes, I do. It's really an amazing place and I get to work on some truly extraordinary things. And I love that.
But someday I'll need to start doing more than just getting by. And that thought process is part of my new post-cancer-diagnosis life. I have absolutely NO idea what I want to do with my life or what path I might want to eventually take to make it possible financially to not just survive, but to do all of the things Ryan and I want to do, AND to prepare for the fact that we do hope to retire one day. The sky is the limit...
In the meantime, I AM happier at my job than I have been in the past year. Being part of a team of people who really do care about you, not just as employee or coworker, but as family... it feels pretty damn good.
As for my future... got any suggestions???