This, Again, Only More So

Here I am again.

I think that this is the frustration that I fight every day at work. This is the problem. But when I had the chance, and it didn’t work out, I didn’t double-down, I found a way out.

There were healthy things about that. I’m in a better culture, I had some healing to do, and I don’t think I could have leveled up from that job. But in some ways, I took a step back (in terms of title, even though I make more money) and away from some of the things I liked in my last role (I was more empowered and strategic, at least for awhile, even if that was disappearing when I left, and I miss that.)

I’m in a role where I’m isolated, where my attempts to think or act strategically are largely discouraged even though they like and ultimately adopt many of my ideas (and put someone else in charge of them), and where I don’t feel like I can grow into the best version of myself. I am learning, but I’m learning tactical things. Useful skills, but nothing that lets me stand up and make a difference. My coworkers don’t ask me about my workload, they say “oh, I’ll do that— I know you’ve got a lot on your plate.” A set of coworkers were talking yesterday— one manages the other, and we have a rule that hourly people can’t be in the office if at least one manager-level person isn’t here. I am a manager-level person, and they could see me here.

Manager: “Are you about done for the day?”

Employee: “Almost, but I have this and this to take care of and…”

Manager: “Well, I’m leaving. I’m going to check to be sure another manager, besides M. because she’s doing her own thing, is going to be here so you can stay.”

Now, I don’t love having to stay late at the office because this employee is seldom ready to go at the end of the day, but I’ve done it several times and I haven’t complained, to her manager or otherwise. I’m not sure why I wasn’t an acceptable alternative there.

When I ran the stairs, earlier today, I encountered a man. A heavy guy I don’t know. I make it a point to look people in the eyes because I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my feet and I’m trying to live differently. A flicker of a smile, or maybe something else, crossed his face almost too fast to see, and then he disappeared inside himself— mask firmly set. I thought “I almost saw you before you disappeared completely.”

I don’t want this to be my story. I don’t want to sit down and shut up. I don’t want to disappear completely. I don’t want other people to be in charge of the cool things I dream up. I don’t understand why it’s happening— if there’s something about how I present myself that is limiting me, I want to know what it is so I can fix it. I’ve explicitly asked, particularly when cool ideas I have become someone else’s project— is there something I did wrong? Is there something I need to be working on? My boss always says no, that I’m doing great. But if that’s the case, how do you explain my situation?

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