Today marks the anniversary of my return to work after taking most of 2010 off.
In the nine months I was away, we travelled around Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, San Francisco, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Glastonbury, the Canadian Rockies, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Vienna and Berne.
Did I miss work? No.
Did I find returning to work difficult? Surprisingly not, actually. The office hasn't changed all that much and I'm doing a mostly similar job, but that's not to say that things haven't changed at all. They have. I've generally been considered quite awkward at work: my customer's think I'm great, but I make a nuisance of myself with the people within my own department who make decisions about my career. That's probably not the smartest career move, but it's my choice. I don't do it to be awkward, but i am generally seen as a bit awkward. Indeed, I've even had the feedback that my brain is too big for my head. I struggle to see that as something I would want to change, but I think it means that I ask too many questions when I should just keep my mouth shut every now and again and not make other people feel stupid.
Anyway. I think I've said here before that my stock actually rose in the time that I was away from the department. I've continued to make a nuisance of myself, on the whole, but for whatever reason, my personal brand (and how I hate that phrase) has continued to rise.
I've won an award, for heaven's sake....
More importantly, I've actually quite enjoyed some of the stuff I've been working on and the people I've been working with, and I feel as though I've been able to make some real progress. I'm still not sure that I give a rat's arse about career progression, but I do care to do a good job, and I think that I have been.
Following C's example this morning, I spent 5 minutes sticking an update onto those posters up in the department trailing our run in the half marathon. All I was doing was thanking people for their generosity and saying how much we had raised so far. It wasn't my intention, but it caused a bit of a stir and was mentioned in newsletters almost immediately and got a round of applause at the morning huddle that I never got to (and was in fact, at that very moment, in the toilet scrubbing ink off my shirt). Something as daft as a poster advertising the run has apparently raised my profile in the business further than 10 years of steady work has ever done.
Later on in the same day, another piece of my work was held up in a senior meeting as being a fantastic insight into the way we manage performance in our department. This was something I had pulled together over the course of a couple of hours, and to me it's a statement of the obvious. My inclination has been to get angry about the fact that everyone thinks it's insightful, when I see it as a sad indictment of the way we've been working up until now that no one has bothered to think this through before now.
Hmm. Maybe that sums up where I'm going wrong... I get angry when people praise me.
Anyhow. I loved the travelling we did in 2010 and I have taken great comfort, no matter how crappy my day in the office has been, from being able to look back and think what I was doing at this time last year. Never once has it made me feel wistful about where I could be instead.
Mind you, this time next week, we'll be in Tanzania on another overland trip across the Serengeti. Truck and tents all the way, baby!
Bring it on.