Monday 14 January 2013

stuck in reverse....

I don't like to moan, but I'm unhappy in my job at the moment.

Oh, it's not the job per se... that's fine.  I like the programme I'm working on, I really like most of the people and I certainly don't really need more money (even if I know I'm worth more).  It's just that I feel like I'm going backwards.  As you know, I'm not particularly career orientated - if I was, then I probably would have changed jobs years ago - but I'm definitely going backwards.  I've always known that my career has been moving at a snail's pace, but now it's dawned on me that it's not actually going forwards at all.  In fact, it's in reverse.

The realisation stings.

I'm tired of being outside the tent and pissing in; I'm tired of having stupid, ill-thought-through decisions passed down to me and I want to be inside the tent myself pissing out my own stupid, ill-thought-through decisions onto other people (or perhaps even helping better decisions to be made).  Last year, I even changed jobs within the department to try and shake things up a bit and to show what I had to offer.  It clearly hasn't worked and I'm pretty sure that my new boss doesn't like me and certainly doesn't rate me.   Now, I don't really think very highly of him either, but that's still pretty dispiriting.  Apart from anything else, he's the person who represents me and represents my chances of career progression.  Is he going to speak up for me?  Hell no.

I was forced to do a few hours work this weekend, and you know what it made me realise?  It's not so much that I resented putting in the extra time (well, maybe a bit), it was more that it was pretty detailed work that I don't really know how to do and it made me realise that I'm probably further away now from getting into the tent than I have ever been.  I've been gradually pushed further and further away from the decision making and the strategy than ever before and I'm disappearing down into the nuts and bolts of the detailed work.  The kind of work that I used to do maybe five years ago or more.  It's not what I want to be doing and I'm not even sure that I'm very good at it.

The irony of that?  I've actually been really trying.  I really have.

That'll teach me.

This job is hardly my life's work.  I know that. EVERYONE knows that.  I'm thinking about perhaps doing an MA in Creative Writing or something, perhaps starting as early as this September.  Whilst I'm sinking hours, YEARS of my life into this stupid, shitty job though, I'm proud enough and vain enough to want to make a decent fist of it and to think that I'm good at what I do.  I might not want to be managing director, but that doesn't mean that I don't have the talent to succeed.  I do have the talent, dammit.  How do these clowns keep getting past me then?

It's somewhat depressing to realise that the people who do make it into the tent are apparently going to be pissing their stupid ideas onto me for the rest of eternity because I'm certainly never getting any closer to getting into their ridiculous club.  As someone wise once said: "Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?"

[sad face]

Yeah, don't tell me.  Stop following the fool, right?  Well, I'm stubborn and I hate the idea of giving up.  I don't really want a career, but it confuses and annoys me that I haven't got one.

Figure that one out.

[on the plus side, I did get notification of a small tax rebate today - £70 - so it's not all doom and gloom!]


  1. You're confused and annoyed that you haven't achieved something that you don't really want? You do realise that all those people in the tent HAVE made it their "life's work" to get there?

    (That tent is full of psychopaths, by the way. Not all of them, but a significant proportion.)

    You sound like I felt a few years back. Close friends and family kept telling me to move on, but that same stubbornness and sense of pride/duty kept me hanging in for dear life, at a high cost.

    Things became much better when circumstances forced my hand and made me "give up"... which turned out not to be "giving up" at all, but merely asserting my autonomy and walking away.

    You'll work things out in your own time, but I felt such a strong rush of empathy when I read this that I figured it would be heartless not to comment. Hope this reads tolerably well. Good luck.

  2. You're a wise man, Stuart. Yeah, I do know the tent isn't worth getting into and yeah, I don't really want to get into it. The problem with that game is there's always another tent inside the tent, isn't there? I think what I really need to do is to have the guys to do what I really want to do: write. I keep telling myself that I can get started on that anytime and never quite seem to get to it.

  3. You know what I have discovered, though? I've discovered a real passion for making sure that what's happened to me doesn't happen to any of the kids brought into the department as graduates or whatever. The most rewarding thing I do in my professional life is to fight to try and get it right for them.

  4. (Have the guts, I mean, by the way. I knew I should have put balls, and then autocorrect might have left me alone!)

  5. I really hate my poor, pitiful me posts.

  6. I just sent this to Thing One... He's in a similar position, only he's nearly 60 so feeling it a bit more (as in, can't afford to retire at 62-65, hates his job). And his supervisor and company seem to be similarly uncaring to yours; he works late nights and weekends ("on call") and gets scolded because he sleeps through a 3:30am call or logged out when the midnight 'emergency' caller fell asleep at 1am.

    Not sure if that makes you feel any better, but you're not alone on either side of the Pond.

  7. I was wondering whether I had anything else useful to contribute, without going off on an unfocused rant about tents, psychopaths, careers and the dangers of institutionalisation. Tricky territory, given that several negative experiences have shaped my views on these subjects.

    But then, these were experiences that I viewed as negative at the time (i.e. uncomfortable, frustrating and very draining), yet in retrospect the changes that they brought about were positive and healthy. So in an odd kind of way, maybe you can even enjoy your current situation.

    Be careful about protecting your junior colleagues. It's a noble impulse, but if you set yourself up as a buffer between The Team and The System, you're going to get buffeted. That takes its toll, even on the strongest of people. Once you're punch drunk, you can't think rationally.

    I reckon you should get the fuck out.

    Can't recall how long you've worked there, but I have a feeling it's been a while. I know it can be daunting but I can honestly tell you that the sheer terror of taking a leap into the unknown is infinitely preferable to the slow, agonising process of your soul shrivelling on a daily basis.

    Otherwise, if you genuinely want to make your existing job work, is there a senior but neutral mentor figure who you can talk to? Though to draw on further personal experience, they're few and far between. And never secure - the psychopaths always seem to get them in the end ;-)

  8. Hi Stuart. Thanks for the comments. Helpful. I think. I'm not protecting the junior colleagues, I'm actually - in a way that I think is well regarded by my seniors - working to try and reshape the existing processes for talent management. It's one of their "added value" type initiatives, and about the only one I believe in - certainly the thing that has given me the biggest sense of achievement at work in the last 12 months. You're right that I do enjoy it, in an odd kind of way. I'm not conventionally motivated and financially I don't need the job, so that frees me up to say what I think (and its that attitude that's also held me back, I should think. I don't need this). What's stopping me leaving is my belief that, although this is silly, I quite want a job, and this is stable and convenient. If I jack it in, it will not be to take something similar, it will be to write or something. That's what I tell myself, anyhow, after another night conspicuously not writing, and in fact also doing another couple of hours work at home. I had a good, constructive conversation with a sensible manager in my team today, telling him how my current role has to change, and it went well and I certainly feel better for telling him. Thanks though. Blogging and talking about this stuff does help me work it all through.

  9. Writing is always the best way for me to work through my thoughts too. Glad you're making headway, hope it comes good.