I don’t recognize my life these days. I am in constant amazement, along with the constant stress.
I am now working full time, getting up each morning and trudging through an 8 hr work day. I somehow managed to find another work from job, and even one with some flex hours built in. I am amazed by this.
I am most amazed that I am functioning this well. I can’t have bad days any more, no time for it. I have to go and go and push through it. Instead of bad days, I have bad hours. I get back to work barely recovered, working on the edge of . . . not sure what the edge is, but it is there. I can feel it.
I survived a trial period, a series of tests from my employer to see if I was good enough.
The tests involved:
- putting me in awkward situations with my coworkers to see if I could handle it gracefully – I did.
- Assigning so many tasks with quick deadlines at once to see how I juggle and prioritize, how I ask for help, how I delegate, and how I handle stress. I did drop a few balls, but I managed to pick them all back up soon enough. I figured out how to break down tasks and assign out parts others could do, leaving the big stuff for me. I figured out how to lower my standards. I had to let go of perfection, and push out things that were ‘good enough’. I can’t tell you how long I hesitated to push send on some of those emails, knowing the attachment contained way less than my best work. But each one has been received positively and deemed good enough for now.
- Assigning me tasks so far out of my comfort zone that I had to say ‘I don’t know’ hundreds of time each day and scramble about searching for someone who did know the answer. I am used to being the expert. I am used to others coming to me. It was humbling and exhausting to know nothing.
- Balancing team work and supervision – this company has no clear lines of authority, no org chart or hierarchy, no job descriptions. In short – it’s a hot mess. A sticky, tricky, mess. A company that has grown so quickly, that people have been filling in the holes in the dam for months, and only recently ran out of fingers to stick in the holes. Everyone is confused and stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed.
- The N coworker I wrote about has been given to me to get her on board with us, or decide if she needs thrown off the train. I am doing my best to work with her, but will have no trouble pushing her out if she refuses every rope I throw to her.
I passed all of those tests, somehow, it is all a blur. I got an amazing promotion and raise, enough to truly make a difference for my family. Enough that we can pay off some debts and medical bills, make needed repairs, enjoy some summer fun with little mini-vacations, and even start dreaming and saving for the future. A bigger house? it could be possible someday. Things that we weren’t able to consider could open up to us.
All I have to do is refrain from losing my mind. That’s all. no pressure, right?
Wrong. I have never felt so much pressure. I have had more stress symptoms the past month than in the past several years. Headaches, general anxiety, short of breath, full-blown panic attacks (I forgot how terrible those are, haven’t had those since I left my last full time job) tummy troubles of heartburn and IBS, nightmares, panic attacks waking me from sleep, trouble focusing my eyes (I went to the eye dr to adjust my glasses before realizing this was my stress level) and a super high heart rate. I had to stop going to curves until I visit my cardiologist next week. I haven’t had my mitral valve checked in over 6 years and I’m supposed to get an echo yearly, and I think the anxiety is aggravating my condition in a chicken or the egg way.
But I also had this drive to push through all of this, telling myself that this really sucks, acknowledging my discomfort, but also telling myself I am strong and can get through it. Because, if I get through it, and I’m able to keep this job, the benefits to my family will be huge. I want to do this for them. I want to do it for me too.
I hate many parts of my job, but as it develops and I get more comfy, I am not hating it so much. In fact, I am loving the thrill of it. I love crossing items off my list, even though that list is a mile long. I love making quick decisions about how to handle tricky situations. I love making my move and waiting for others to make theirs. It is seeming like a game now, like my favorites, like SimCity or diner dash where I have to think and do and move endlessly and can barely keep up.
I told my therapist how I am have this sick enjoyment of the chaos and mess – and she said of course you do. It feels like home. This company is running like a dysfunctional family and I feel like the savior, the peace-keeper. The only difference is that I don’t feel helpless this time. I feel powerful and I’m thinking more clearly than I can remember ever thinking before. The fog is gone. I can clearly see what everyone is up to, I understand the motives, I know who is messing up and who is trying to hide it. I listen to my instincts, those alarms I have in my head about liars, and it is serving me well to investigate issues and manage people well. I think it is so far anyway.
I also have an out, if needed. I will do this for a while, give it my best. I said I would stay 1 year, and if things don’t approve, if my body is not handling the stress, if everything is still a hot mess, then I will move on with this experience under my belt and never look back. But my bank account will have thanked me, and I will know that some things can’t be fixed, some people can’t be changed. I will know when to walk away and will not blame myself for it. (not completely anyway, jeez this is me we’re talking about)
So I am going back to check my emails and work on a project today, when I could have today off. I am choosing to get caught up, choosing to have a bigger paycheck, and choosing to give myself the gift of crossing something off my list.
Tonight we will go to a festival and watch fireworks and I will leave work behind and out of mind. Tonight will be about glow sticks, cotton candy, funnel cakes, kids crafts, good music on stage, and fireworks in the air. As the booms fill my chest I will remember that I am strong, and I am free. America lets us be free, and I will celebrate my freedom from a tortured soul. I won’t waste my freedom any longer, I have too many dreams to chase.