I’ve been so busy… unfortunate, but true. But then, that’s the story of my life.
Life at my new place of business is interesting, challenging, crazy and chaotic. Nothing I’ve done prepared me for the fast pace of that building. The people I work with all put in 100% capacity 100% of the time. There is no downtime, no break and no margin for error. Quite literally, one mistake can and will cost you your job.
That’s what I’m working in. The stress is killing me. I’ve gone from a job that was low-stress, where I knew everything and had everything figured out, to one where I don’t know where I stand from one moment to another. The daily minutiae, the details that bog down my work and keep me from doing a truly great job are what have me freaking out.
Forget anything you’ve ever heard about working in politics. Forget Spin City and Primary Colors and all those other Hollywood-produced versions of life at The Tower. None of them are even close. Real life at my new place of business – for those of us who deal with the daily brush fires and the scandals and the possible media attacks – is impossible to describe. You start out your day thinking you’re going to do this set of things and by the end of the day you realize you never touched your to do list because of all the other stuff that cropped up out of nowhere. Everything was due 10 minutes ago, and you constantly piss people off because you’re working on a deadline that no other department or division seems to understand. And you don’t get to make the decision that actually affect the perception of the administration, but you are charged with making the public understand and accept the official version of everything.
Welcome to my new life.
To say that I miss the university would be a major understatement. It doesn’t help that I didn’t feel ready to leave to begin with. I liked my job, I liked the people I worked with, I liked the projects I owned, and I liked working for the university. And I miss it.
My former boss took me out to lunch a couple of weeks ago. It had been a particularly bad week for me. I had nearly been reduced to tears at work on several occasions. I was sure that I was going to get fired any day. And I wasn’t too sure that getting fired would exactly be a bad thing. I was miserable, wondering what the hell possessed me to quit my old job and take on this one. I especially wanted to know what made me thinking that I had what it took to survive in The Tower.
I set the lunch up. I got an email from one of my former coworkers to tell me that he would be leaving soon. He took a better job with another university – better pay and a better position. And that opened up a position for more money than I make, by just a bit, in a more stable environment with less stress. And I was very interested in finding out what my chances of getting it were.
Of course, she brought up the opening, prompting me to come back and fill it. I’m more than qualified, she and I have a good working relationship, and I have a long history with the university. If I want it, I basically just have to show up. It would barely be more money than I’m making now, but I wouldn’t be living under the penalty of career death for a mistake.
Having her offer out in the open took a load off me. I’ve been really really sacred. I’m worried that my desire to move up is going to jeopardize my family. That I won’t be able to provide for them, that I made a mistake when I can’t really afford one. That I made the wrong decision. And that’s not a feeling I like.
I don’t have a firm offer from her yet. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I do get an offer from the university. Now I have to worry that leaving The Tower after just a few months is going to look very bad on my resume. Never mind that the reputation of the people I work for is such that it could be explained away without my looking like a failure, I’m worried that I will still look bad and possibly hurt my career in the long run. Great, another thing to worry about.
When push comes to shove, I know that I’ve only been in the professional field for 4 ½ years. By even landing this job I’ve gotten further than most of the people I went to school with. And the main reason I took it, besides the pay raise, was to further my career. Let’s face it, it’s going to look very good on my resume. Unless I mess it up.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Paloma bitch and whine session. Even when everything’s going great, there’s always some dark cloud in the horizon that can make me worry that it’s just temporary.
Gotta go, talk to you soon.