I bought a patio chair today. Just a single patio chair. Not a patio set with multiple chairs and a table and an ottoman or anything like that. I don’t have the space or the budget for that. But I have a ground floor apartment with a small walk-out concrete patio and it’s summer and it’s beautiful and I’m tired of sitting inside my apartment and thinking…hmm…it sure would be nice to sit outside. Why I didn’t do this before I don’t know. So I’m writing to you from my new patio chair.
My family is currently in Atlanta for my cousin’s wedding. And I’m at home, missing out on the festivities because flying to a Sunday night wedding out of state just doesn’t jibe with my need to be in class Monday at three. So, admittedly, I’m feeling a little left out and a little lonely and a little contemplative. Like contemplative about the fact that I am working full time and cramming two compressed summer classes into my life while at the same time missing my cousin’s wedding and possibly missing the fourth of July at my family’s lake cabin due to the fact that my university had the audacity to schedule classes July third and fifth.
All this would seem less dire if (1) I had fewer than three long years of this to look forward to and (2) my current work situation weren’t so unfortunate. I alluded to my challenges at my job in this post. I didn’t elaborate, and I won’t elaborate here for the same reasons, but I will talk about what being in a challenging* work environment can do to your psyche, because I’m sure there are others out there who can relate, or have related in the past.
In the years that I’ve been in the working world, I’ve developed a professional self-image that I’m pretty happy with. I’ve always considered myself to be dependable and trustworthy, a solver of problems, a haver of good ideas, a great trouble-shooter and generally an asset to any organization of which I am a part. I get work done on time with a high level of quality and accuracy. I always do what I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it. Always. And these qualities have always worked for me. I’ve felt valued and useful. I haven’t always loved the jobs I’ve had, but I’ve always felt like an asset, and have been told as much by those around me, both my peers and my superiors.
My current situation is slowly (or maybe quickly) eroding my confidence in all these qualities. While I know I still possess them, they no longer feel recognized. I want very much to mentally separate my work life from the rest of my life, recognizing that, to a great extent, my current work is a means to an end. But, as most of us know, being somewhere eight hours a day makes it difficult to separate ourselves from it.
The reason I write about this here is because I’m afraid of how much this erosion of my professional self-confidence will effect me when I go out to interview for jobs in my new career. All the great qualities I’ve always attributed to my professional self are things that one talks about with passion and enthusiasm in an interview. I’ve never struggled with this before, as I’ve always felt strongly that I was a great employee with a lot to offer. But I haven’t felt that way for six months or more. How much will it show in an interview after I haven’t felt that way for three years?
This really worries me. This whole “let’s go back to school!!” thing has been a huge leap of faith, a challenge and a risk. But I’m doing it, and I’m feeling really good about how it’s going. I’m excited about it. But it feels like time is standing still. It feels like I’m waiting for my life to begin and getting pummeled with rocks in the process. And if, at the end of it, I have lost the gusto and flair with which I used to be able to talk about my best qualities, then where does that leave me? I want to go into my new career at 100%.
So I’ve spent the last week or two thinking about my options. I’m working on a way to pull myself out of this situation and put myself back on track to finish strong. There’s still a lot to consider and a lot of details to iron out, but as a planner at heart, I’m thrilled with this new puzzle. It might be a couple months, but I’m excited to tell you all about it when everything comes together. Stay tuned!
*I use the word challenging to avoid more negative language. To clarify, by challenging, I don’t mean intellectually engaging or an enjoyable test of skill or wit.