Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Working Mama Wednesday - Austin & My Career

Yesterday I told you about how I left my husband and kids for 4 days for a business trip - something I haven't done in years.  When I left I was anxious and absolutely hated leaving my family.  I felt awful.

In the back of my mind I was excited about the trip and the potential this team could have to change the course of the organization I work for.  I can't talk too much about what we're working on, but it is big.  I've been with this organization for 10 years now and have a strong passion for where we're headed and the opportunity to forever change the course.  In my mind doing so will also give mie the opportunity to forever change the lives of people I work with.  Commerce will come and go - the important thing (to mie) is to positively influence the lives of people in the workforce with commerce as the common thread linking us together, giving mie the opportunity to speak positively into their lives and hopefully that in turn will inspire greater lives outside of work for all of us.

That's my idea anyway.

As we arrived in Austin I found myself busy helping my coworkers prep for dinner - a nice fajita-themed meal with grilled steak, chicken, and shrimp.  I lucked out - as my peers detailed and deveined the shrimp (ugh!) I took on the task of making a ginormous bowl of guacamole with fresh ingredients.  I think after 12 avocados I had the base for what turned out to be a wonderful  bowl of guac.  Later in the week when we went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant some of my coworkers even asked the waiter if I could make the guac we'd ordered because it was that good.  (Honestly I thought it was just average...).  In any case, making the guac, helping to prepare the rest of the food, and doing the dishes that night really helped fulfill my need to be mommy since I wasn't with my kids.  

Of course - this view and weather in the 70s helped too.

The rest of the week really smacked mie in the face in terms of my career and where it is headed.  The honest truth is that I don't really think of my "career" often.  It pays the bills and gives mie an opportunity to do what I talked about earlier in motivating people, but I don't have specific career aspirations beyond having the most impact I can.  Now I find myself on a team of bright people hand-picked to make these projects happen.   They talk about the end result "making a dent in the universe".  I am proud to have had a hand in starting this movement and in being chosen to continue to work on the team to see it to completion.

And yet my insecurities have been stirred as a result of various aspects of this project.  I'm not a direct member of the team but a supporting member from another department.  My internal voice screams "you weren't REALLY chosen to be part of the team".  I'm the most tenured member of the team by 6 years.  My internal voice screams "you're old and outdated".  Some people said things like "so, you've only worked for (our organization)".  Most of the people on the team have only a year or two with the organization and have had a broad background making an impact in all sorts of other places.  Me?  I started working here two weeks after I graduated with my B.A., which I received when I was 20.  I'm 30, almost the youngest on the team (because someone beats me by a couple months), and yes, I've really only worked here.  Of course that doesn't count the 5 years I worked with a franchise pizza company in increasingly responsible positions, the time I spent with a large department store who asked mie to stay on to work for them in corporate positions, and the time I spent in real estate - when I was in high school.  It also doesn't count that I've been promoted 8 times in 10 years.  Nevertheless my insecurities are raging about how much "less" I am than the others.

No one said that or treated mie that way.  I do believe I'm highly respected where I am and have maintained my "up-to-date-ness" through external partnerships, writing opportunities, professional organizations, and of course through projects I've worked on through school.  And yet I find myself questioning my own value in the workplace.

It stems from 2010 when I went through a really hard time professionally.  After having always been recognized by people I worked with, teachers, adults when I was a kid, etc. for being bright, advanced, and a leader, through a variety of crappy circumstances found myself in a position of being broken and vulnerable.  (Need a refresher?  Check out the "1 Year Ago Today" series here.)  On top of everything going on in my personal life I had significant changes professionally that led mie to working with someone who was not at all supportive of mie and my career.  This person made it very clear that she did not respect mie at all and didn't believe I was a leader.  (this is not my internal voice - the exact words were "I have not seen any leadership behavior from you this year").  

I sat with my husband on Monday and cried.  I explained to him how broken I am regarding my confidence in my career.  Wouldn't you know I had my performance review on Tuesday with my boss and though it went well I cried in there too.  I have a good relationship with my boss and we started talking about my confidence.  He had no idea I felt the way I do - no one really does because on a daily basis I appear to be a very confident person.  So I cried (very mildly) as I explained to him how 2010 really impacted mie.

Sometimes this all feels permanent.  I wonder if I've peaked in my career already.  I wonder if I'll ever really know what 2010 was all about for my career and for mie as a person.  I wonder if I'll ever stop second guessing my perception on how valuable I am compared to what this individual said of mie, whether this person was right to say what was said or whether it was just a learning experience that I had to go through to make mie more refined.  I wonder if other people involved in hearing the things she said will ever know how many things were un-truths and how it has impacted mie.  I wonder if it really matters....

I pray that God will use mie.  I pray that God will show mie direction.  I just want to know His will for my life and if not the entire picture at least what the next right step is.  Should I stay?  Should I be satisfied where I am at this moment?  Should I sit back and rest or continue to drive forward?  

I don't know the answers yet.  The Austin trip made mie cry personally for not being with my kids but also drummed up some professional sentiments that made mie cry as well.  I'm hoping at some time in the near future I can write another Working Mama Wednesday post where I'm able to tell you where God has taken mie so far in this journey.  I know something's coming.  I'm just not sure what. 


1 comment:

Penelope {Foster2Forever} said...

I can honestly say "I've been there!" In my late 40s now, (did I really say that?) I now am debating about staying at home. I've worked for 20 years and feel like I've made my significant contributions professionally. But now, I feel the most significant contribution I can make to the world is through my family. It took a long time for me to change to that perspective. Best to you! It's difficult to be a career woman.