Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Climbing Up Into Clouds of Uncertainty

I remember all too clearly when I started my first job right out of college just over 2 years ago today. I was nervous, jittery, working late nights, and all just so I could get ahead and make a good name of myself. I also remember that a few months later, I was dreading everything. I even dedicated an entire post to this period in my life. I felt lost, confused, and was trying to find a way out by any means possible short of getting fired. I hated my job, I felt unfulfilled, and honestly, I missed being at school.

If you told me from a year and a half ago that I would still be at the same company, my from back them would have laughed and probably even felt a little disappointed in myself. "Why didn't you leave? Could you not find another job?" past me would have said. And that may have been the case. A little over a year ago today, I was interviewing with a few places, trying to find a way out. Nothing ultimately panned out.

Fast forward to today. I stuck it out at my job, entered a rotational program with a marketing/strategy type group last fall at the same company, and this past June, I changed jobs again and got promoted from the rotational program. 

So, uhhh.....I'm a manager now. Surprise?

So I don't manage people, well, not directly at least. I tell people in other departments what they need to do and I hold their managers and directors accountable. It's a strange place to be. I'm 23 close to 24, and I have an office, a manager title, and a strong, but not spectacular salary. I work on an equal level with people who manage teams and have years on years of experience over me. I'm invited to executive round tables, have to speak with directors as if they were my peers, and am held to a standard and have responsibilities that I feel are above my experience level.

I feel like a child dressed up in dad's suit and trying to fit in at the adult table the first year I'm allowed to sit there on Thanksgiving. I feel like I'm playing a game or performing in some kind of act, and eventually the illusion will break and people will stop respecting what I tell them. Yes, it's a professional office and people take their jobs seriously enough to not mock me or talk down to me, yet still, it still feels wrong that me, a guy who graduated two years ago and is less than a handful of years past the legal drinking age, has the job I do.

I'm feeling a lot of the same emotions I felt when I hit bottom after I started working right out of school. Maybe it's just the same emotions that come with starting any new job. I'm working late nights again. I constantly worrying that I've done something wrong despite the generally glowing reviews I have heard so far. I'm also caught in the cycle of feeling that despite my best efforts, at the end of the day, people see what I do as mediocre or simply disappointing. Without going too in depth, the nature of my job and team is not a glamorous one. Reps that get the end products of what my team puts out generally don't care much for it or don't think of it much, managers who have to manage those reps see me mostly as a source of extra work and stress, and the directors and VPs see my team as useless, slow moving oafs who are out of touch from what the reps actually need and provide little of value. As someone who thrives on feedback, I think you can see why I may be so anxious all the time and struggle with relaxing and unwinding at the end of the day. I won't say I'm at nearly a low spot as I was a year and a half ago, but the deja vu is real.

If you've made it this far, I wanted to apologize for the constant "I feel/I'm feeling" repetitiveness you have read so far. With any major change that has occurred in my life, there is one thing that I've come to notice about myself and that is that my emotions tend to ramp up before eventually settling back down. So you are seeing me cope right now. I'm trying to find a way to reconcile a few pieces and sides of me.

1. Me, the 23 Year old who is trying to play adult and become comfortable working with others much older and experienced than myself and seeing them as peers

2. Me, the young professional who knows he can do the job and do it well. I know I will always put in my best and triple check all details of what do to put out a quality product.


3. Me, the person who needs to realize that at the end of the day, I need to take care of myself and realize the world does not revolve around work or pleasing others. 

Where will I end up ultimately in the long term? I don't know. I did just start a new job. My new director saw something in me to request a promotion for me and have me join her team. That being said, I don't know if this is the job that I want to stick with as a career. My coworkers are great people and I do interesting and challenging work. But again, like when I started my first job, that sense of fulfillment is missing. The day I can wake up and be excited to go to work and truly love what I'm doing is when I will stop exploring my career options. That's why even now, I am still searching for jobs.

Who knows, maybe that sense of fulfillment will slowly build the longer I stay in this job. If hindsight has taught me anything, the longer you stick it out, the easier things become.

Wish me luck.

All the Best,