Storytelling. Stop. Where’s Mine?

Ruminating on what’s happened to me

Snapped while waiting for Caltrain. I’ve been in the Bay Area about 4 months now, and it’s evenings like these that remind me how far I’ve come from the changes I’ve made.

I used to agree that I was worthless. When you spend the majority of your work day in an environment that is passive-aggressive, condescending and insulting, it’s hard to think otherwise. In Vancouver, on a night similar to this one, I was suddenly struck by the stark contrast of my work environment and my personal life. I found myself wondering if the friendliness, positive feedback and general good vibes I got outside work were possible at work.

It was soon clear that to have my personal life reflect or mirror my work life, I had to change companies. I didn’t know if that required changing jobs too. I was fortunate to find a job very similar to what I had been doing, but in a better work environment. Bonus: it was back in Chicago!

Thinking back on it now, I was methodical in my approach, and had the good fortune again to be recommended by a good friend and confidant. They were thrilled, as was I, and it resulted in an incredibly happy and wonderful 18 months.

I developed confidence, exercised and reawakened by creative writing muscles, built a social life and was content. One day, found myself wondering what was next.

Being immersed in memoir and creative writing, MFA sounded logical, but I couldn’t answer what came after that. Let me rephrase: I didn’t like the options that came after an MFA. That’s not me.

By chance, I answered a job posting on LinkedIn and found myself being put through the interview wringer, as any good startup will do. I was put through the wringer with two of them, and it quickly became clear I did not have the deep technical knowledge for one. If I had remained attached to the worthless mentality, that lack of technical knowledge would have carried over and convinced I was no good for the other company, too.

That wasn’t the case, and I’m still amazed at my acceptance of not being technical enough in order to move past it and remember what I do well. The year had both taught and reminded me of what I do well: telling stories. I wanted to tell a bigger story, and the opportunity presented itself.

I find myself in the Bay Area, helping tell someone else’s bigger story, and wondering why I have stopped telling my own.