Whew…it hasn’t been that long since my last post and it’s reached the one year mark that I’ve moved and I honestly have been feeling a low recently that is as if I just moved again.
Toward the end of July, we had office wide training, which I had been excited about because it was an excuse not to do work and spend time talking to people I don’t see a lot and who like me. But after a whole day, read 8 full hours, of being cooped up in one small conference room with literally everyone who works for the company, I think I was mentally and emotionally spent but just did not acknowledge it or even realize it. This was the second day of our 4 day “retreat”. After 3 hours of this, my energy levels suddenly plummetted and I felt no need to stay energetic or enthuastic and by the end of the day I think I was literally running on fumes. Still, I managed to make it to company happy hour and went to a dance class afterwards, so I think this is what convinced me that I was okay, I was recovered.
The next day was company dinner, which was being paid for, so of course I was going for the free food. Now I think I will just reconsider and take it on a case by case basis; New Guy didn’t go along with a few other people who I did not expect to go. But for some reason, I was already slipping away by the time I reached the restaurant and even when the boss told me he wanted me to go to Chicago for a meeting (which I ended up not going to due to logistics), I didn’t feel like I was really appreciating or really understanding the implications of being able to go back to my friends and seeing them again. The place was this hibachi place and it was definitely one of those white pandering places…I sat next to the old dude in the office and our NYC manager. And for whatever reason as our appetizers came, I just got this sudden, fierce flight reaction, like I just wanted to get up and run home although there was nothing bad that was happening. I just wanted to go, I couldn’t handle being in the same room with these people anymore and I didn’t want to put on a smile on my face and pretend I wasn’t mentally spent. I wasn’t just broke, I was mentally negative.
Finally, dinner came to an end and the NYC manager and others were taking pictures. She took one of me and the old guy, and I am sure that I would have handled it differently if I was mentally prepared and this wouldn’t affect me this deeply even now — but she took our photo and said, “Oh, it’s adorable.” And I kid you not, the old man laughed and was like “Well, it’s not me. It’s you! You’re adorable.” I was uncomfortable because…you don’t know me like that and I hate people who pretend they’re close enough to me to say things like that or call out my flaws. It was definitely one of those things that old people think they can get away with because they’re old. But there was nothing I could think of to say that wasn’t confrontational or would make me look like I was overreacting, so I just pretended I didn’t hear. This is compounded on the temp telling me that he likes to compliment her looks, and she frames it in such a negative way although this old guy has probably not done anything unprofessional to her and hasn’t said or done anything that I could call out (and won’t, knock on wood), that I feel paranoid about it and would prefer not to interact with him anymore.
Recently, moving slowly on from that, I’ve also finally come to the realization that this company is just not run well, which I know isn’t anything unusual or unique (bad management). Our outreach director quit a few months back for a better job since she hated the place and she never got replaced, instead having her work outsourced to me or just ignored altogether. Now our French employee is quitting for another job that pays better and although he is two weeks from officially never coming back, nothing has been done to replace him although his data collection and analysis work is key for quite a few projects he is part of (some of which I am a part of). Although he has advocated for me and has assured me that this is not my issue and will not reflect badly on me if I cannot step into his shoes, I get anxious just thinking that there is just this big hole that won’t be addressed. I think then about the concentration of power in the hands of a few and how there is still not much transparency and how I think I actually distrust most of the people I work with, like I would not feel comfortable telling them about any issue I might be having outside of work (which I believe is a wise thing to do in the first place). My friends all have young coworkers to vent to and spend time with at lunch, and I feel like I’ve made efforts but the status quo seems to be ‘heads-down-move-on’.
Then a year of living here showed up and I see my friends from back home with their friends and going out and my friends here having extended networks and I know it’s different because I don’t need to network extensively for my job and I moved to a city basically by myself into an organization that has more aged employees — but this has just made me doubt myself and wondering if there’s just something wrong with me that I still feel alone and unsettled. I know a year isn’t long in the grand scheme of things and this city is a hard place to settle down in, but I still feel anxiety over it.
The kicker, the thing that hurts me the most though — I’ve been looking for ways out, applying to jobs and making steps toward graduate school, but for some reason, I can’t seem to break out of this routine? My applications either disappear into the ether or I get one interview or a terrible offer. I have professional experience and a good school under my belt, and yet somehow I feel as undesirable and unneeded as I did two springs ago when I was frantically scrambling to find a job before graduating so I wouldn’t be the loser who was going home empty handed while all her friends had jobs. As always, I have no idea who I can talk to about this — people either have moved (or not moved, in Chicago terms) to places where they have an established network OR they’ve adapted well and began feeling more comfortable in their skin. I just feel — isolated, calling out and hearing an echo chamber because there’s no one else with me. I feel like applying to industries that I haven’t worked in makes me look like a weak competitor — I’ve worked consistantly in sustainability and yet why am I suddenly switching lanes?
And I feel like a total first world whiner for complaining, because objectively I’m not in a bad position at all. I’m in a city that a bunch of people want to be in. I am employed. I have a roof over my head, and my roommate stays out of my way and we coexist in a relative “peace”. I have friends to talk to and spend time with. I don’t live paycheck to paycheck. But yet I feel like a whole year of living in “meh. eh.” just has come to a head and I’m just voicing finally that I’m stagnating and living in mediocrity instead of being content. BUT HOW DO I GET OUT? I feel trapped and have no idea how to get out of this circle I’m running in.
To conclude this session, I should also acknowledge that I’ve been studying for the GRE and writing a personal statement and have been thinking about who I should hit up for personal recommendation letters, but I feel like I’ve delayed my graduate program application schedule and I’m not on top of it like I should be and although applications are due in January, the idea of going into a program just feels so far away — it would literally be a whole year until I would be getting ready for 2–3 years of school again. That process seems so theoretical and I am not even seeing the progress I have been making that I feel so useless.