When I first started my new job, I made a commitment to myself to give myself a creative outlet even though I had to go back to a box job. The new job put me in a cube, which was a rough setback from the kick-ass office I used to have overlooking 42nd Street, a block from a beautiful park overlooking the United Nations Building.
Each day I bring my camera with me and take a walk to capture images of life. I take notes on the subway so I feel like I’m getting some writing done. Somehow writing direct marketing messages isn’t satisfying the writing thirst. Each day I’d hope to produce something for me of which I can be proud.
Lately I’ve let myself down because once again, in a familiar pattern, I let work trump my life. At times like this, my insides are in constant turmoil. I exist with a boiling cauldron inside my gut and feel like steam erupts whenever I open my mouth. The steam, when not released, seems to manifest itself in a migraine that lasts for days.
It doesn’t help that I’m not a morning person. I’m not sure if it has to do with the time I was born (3:00am), but my natural clock is with the owls. My brain works better after 11pm; I get more creative, I feel more liberated. There’s energy at night that doesn’t exist in the 9-5 world. It’s like the majority of the people suck up the collective energy of the world during the light-time. At night, it seems there’s more available to fuel my flames. The world surrounds me in quiet and gives my mind a stage to scream.
Every morning, though, I wake up and try to be “on.” There are days that I do it and days I simply feel like I climb uphill. It’s different when you work for yourself or if you’re pursuing a passion that comes from within you. I can sit and write for hours straight, letters, words, stories pouring out of me and not a second of it will feel like work.
At work, I lease out my energy, my creativity, my brain. In exchange for my devotion to the business, I get a paycheck. It’s draining.
My new job has lots of numbers. It’s hard for a letters girl to enjoy numbers, but as the boss says, “the analysis runs the business.” (Funny, I thought we did.) I’m supposed to be creative, yet I struggle daily - often project-to-project, meeting-to-meeting. There’s freedom - but it seems to be confined to a strict box. Like prisoners who get freedom by getting to walk around a yard.
The biggest challenge for me lies in the immaturity factor. The company is small and entrepreneurial and everyone is gung-ho about the company, yet so anti-team spirit. It comes as no surprise – if you lead through fear, condescension, and intimidation, you create an army of followers who will throw one another under a bus rather than leave no man behind. I know she thinks it’s healthy to encourage competition, but for a group who spends over 50 hours a week together, it would be nice to think that I was spending it with people that were on my side.
I come in each day prepared to disappoint and expect for someone else to smile when I do. We also keep mistake logs. An example of a mistake is when you budgeted for $1,000 and the actual comes in at $955. That’s what life is like here.
My new job has lots of meetings – sometimes 5 per day. Sometimes meetings to schedule other meetings. Everyone sits at their cubes wearing a headset – either the phone kind or the music kind. Walking through the office, there is the office hum of typing and people whispering the familiar script on the phone.
Most of the social interaction I’ve gotten has been in the bathroom; I avoid the kitchen because someone warned me on my first day of the roaches that lurk everywhere. We do have quarterly outings, but the first half of the day is spent reviewing what was done and brainstorming new ways we can do more.
Everything is overcomplicated. No one stops to stand back and look at the big picture; they’ll argue a point for an hour that impacts life not at all. Instead of dividing and conquering, everyone wants a bite of every detail. Like many children starved for attention, we wait for our turn to get a little pat on the back.
We are a beehive in a forest and we are successful enough to make honey to feed everyone in the hive and then some. You would think that would make the Queen Bee happy - and maybe she is - but she certainly acts like the world is an awful place and we are a constant disappointment. To her credit, she doesn’t ALWAYS mean to sound like an angry bitch, but she certainly seems to get enjoyment out of making it harder for us; like punishment because we were “bad little doobies” (tribute to Mrs. Shannon, 7th grade math).
You would think in a company of about 20 people, the leader would come around and say hello to her workers. You could think that - but you would be wrong. Everyone gives a piece of their soul to this company. I know she says ‘thank you’ with a paycheck, but hello would also be nice. She wants to hear nothing of anyone’s life, but thinks nothing of wasting half an hour of my scheduled meeting time divulging her sexual history and emptying out her entire make up bag for inspection. She forgets that she is not your friend for just a minute and shows humanity.
I also hope She doesn’t read this, but if she does...
I’m sorry if these words come out hurtful to you; they are my reality and mine alone. The blog is where I can say my side of the story; it is my venue for being defensive without defending myself for being such. The salt on the wound of this situation is that I knew you before I took the job. I believed you when you told me you changed; you told me you had gotten more professional. You interpret professional to be detached, mean, and authoritative. I can’t relate to that sort of leadership. I also can’t relate to someone who stands in front of her team and says I’m paying you a “fuckload of money and I expect a fuckload of shit!”
I hope you know that I’ll still bring my A game. I’ll still respect you in the office. I’ll still be a team player and do what I can – because I need the paycheck.
But I often wonder if you ever look in the mirror? Are you proud of the person you’ve become beyond the businessperson? Is this what you want out of life? Do you want to look back on your life and remember your numbers or do you want to stand back and remember the people that helped you get to the top of your lonely hill? I hope you realize that the life you lived isn’t defined by your bank account.
I wish you were still someone I wanted to call a friend.