Quotes to post
Running around for everyone else, stressing over other people’s priorities has narrowed my ability to see beyond the moment and the false urgencies scattered throughout the day. It’s made me and my existence myopic. Kept too tired to project my larger vision before me and continue to pursue it with passion. (Me Time, Desert of Solitude)
I see now and I accept that I have to be enough for me. In my sadness and in my joy, I have to know and appreciate that my griefs and my celebrations are for me to encounter, embrace, endure and experience. If I am alone then I am alone. If love visits me in the form of a person, then at that time I will enjoy love’s visit. Until then I will be the love I have been waiting for and I will honor my life with my presence and all my good intentions. (What if I wake uu tomorrow the same?, Desert of Solitude)
What I’ve come away with from my afternoon admiring Mont Salève from various angles is that if we view our biggest problems as mountains, we have only to change our perspective to make the problems manageable. With a changed perspective anything is possible. I approached Mont Salève in turmoil and came away with clarity. That’s not to say that I received solutions for any of the evils in the world. However, I do know a solution exists and change is possible. I know that what appears huge today may fit on the tip of my fingernail tomorrow. The problems may not change, but their impact definitely will. (Perspective, Desert of Solitude)
Have you ever thought about what you’ve been taught to think?
During the last few years, I’ve been struggling a great deal with “the way things are supposed to be.”
When I was in high school, we were taught that a college degree would lead to a good job and a comfortable life. Higher education became my own personal albatross. The first degree I completed was an associate degree no one acknowledged. It rolled into a seven year pursuit of a four year degree that also went largely unacknowledged. Fifteen years after acquiring my bachelors I completed my Masters in International Affairs while working for a global firm. When I began that program, my manager at the time, rejected my quest for tuition reimbursement, which was stated to be provided at manager’s discretion. Her reason was that my current role as her executive assistant (she was a global head of a department) would not receive any benefit from anything I could learn in a graduate program.
Fast forward four years to a follow-up conversation with another manager about career opportunities. I had spoken with a few managing directors (all division heads with global reach) about recently acquiring my M.A. and wanting to transition out of the admin role into a project or program management role. I told my manager I had hit a wall. I had reached out to the MD’s I had some history with (I had been with the company for over ten years and working with executives for over eight years) and they had begun avoiding me. I told her one, who actually had a job posted that was a match for my skills, refused to answer my questions about what he was looking for to fill the role.
My manager coolly said, “Your initiative and confidence are admirable, but in this case you’ve over-stepped yourself.” This is a woman I openly admired. I had asked her to mentor me when she hired me. I had been completely honest about my career and life goals. She told me to come to her if I needed help. This meeting was me asking for help after six months of getting nowhere.
“You may not want to hear this,” she continued, “but if you want a different career, you’re going to have to start over.”
“Start over for what?” Was my incredulous response. “My ten years with this firm don’t mean anything? Or because my advanced education was a waste of money? You’re telling me that my experience and education are worthless?
“No, not quite worthless, just not worth as much as you think.”
“Really? I’ve been working for over twenty years and you’re saying I need to compete with college graduates with no real world experience??
“If you want to change careers. You don’t have the experience in the area you want to transition to.”
“I’m a quick learner and most of my work is project based. I’m not reaching here. I’m seeking opportunities that align with my skillset and interests, which I am more than qualified for.”
“That’s not the point. This firm does not have a corporate structure to supports training people. We hire people who know what they need to do.”
“My learning curve in any new role in this company would be much shorter than anyone coming from outside. No matter who is hired for a role, they are going to have to learn their new job.”
“That may be true, but that’s not how it’s done. I’m not trying to be mean here.”
I had reached out to one of her colleagues before he began with the firm. He was in a newly created hybrid role overseeing government affairs based in Washington DC. I emailed him to introduce myself and asked if he had considered creating a project role in his new org and if so, if he could consider me for the role. I mentioned my tenure in the department, my good working relationship with the executive offices across the company, my flexibility to travel between DC and NYC as needed, and the projects I had been responsible for in a related group of the department. He never responded. But he had obviously spoken to my manager. When I brought his lack of reply up, she became scathing.
“I wouldn’t hire you for that role.”
Completely taken aback, I stiffly asked, “Why not?”
“Because you don’t have any experience on the Hill. In a role like that someone with two to three years’ experience in DC would be more practical. They would already know how to get around.
“So an outside person with two to three years’ work experience beats my internal ten years? My skills and experience are completely transferable for this.”
Moral of the story: as long as I was okay being led by the nose in circles, life was good from the outside. When I confronted the bias and idiotic excuses, all I could see was the outline of the matrix and the cube I was stuck in.
Career mobility was not intended for me. Non-support roles in the executive office were not intended for me. My “superiors” would decide which opportunities I would or would not have access to. It was not for me to impose my career objectives on them.
I was relatively content as an executive assistant until I realized management had decided that’s all I would ever be.
What are we rethinking here?
When your adulation yields nothing for you, is it really worth it?
I’ve adored men. Those men adored being adored but they didn’t adore me. Nor were they interested in doing anything for me.
A stark comparison would be the years I spent adoring four precious children in my former apartment building. Every time their eyes touched on me in greeting they became screeching jumping beans. Their excitement was palpable. They brought me so much joy, I can’t even articulate it. Our adulation was completely reciprocal. They jumped, I jumped. They screeched, I screeched.
My admiration of my managers, colleagues and company got me nowhere. My availability, interest, eagerness, planning, preparation – none of that was worthy of promotional opportunities. Working long hours, logging in on vacation, being ready and available for whatever were expectations of the role I had and salary I received.
I received occasional treats and pats on the head. I was the recipient of the occasional “thank you” and “you’re the best” and quite honestly I was paid extremely well to do a job that kept me seated in front of a computer most of the day. But none of that was fulfilling for any amount of time.
I wasn’t growing. I was on a hamster wheel running in place. For the first six years I thought I was working towards something. I had no idea I had plateaued out in year two. When I finally saw that I was running in circles on a hamster wheel inside a cube placed in a larger matrix, I decided to step off the wheel.
Stepping off the wheel
One would think that running in circles within a confined space would make one dizzy. In fact, it’s when one comes to a full stop that confusion sets in. While doing what one is supposed to do – what is expected of us – there is a system in place to support those expectations. There is a system in place to suppress a mind that wants to think, a consciousness that wants to wake, a heart that wants to love, a soul that wants to spark life and lungs that want to breathe.
Poem: (end of clichés – I tried education, career, etc)