Of the choices we make and the consequences they bring

Be warned: This entry is heavy. If you’re not having a good day, I’d skip this one.

Facebook is both a strange and sad animal.

As happens when we get nostalgic, I was tagged in a Homecoming picture from high school. There are 8 of us in the picture. Seven of us have spent the past decade graduating college, getting married, having babies, or just trying to figure out what the hell it means to be a grown up. The 8th person in the picture was murdered a little under 5 years ago by the married man she was seeing.

After looking at the picture, it made me stand back and survey where I’m sitting. I put myself in situations where I easily could have been seriously injured or killed. Through some minor miracle, nothing bad happened to me. I very well could have not seen my 26th birthday. I may not have been a stripper or a heroin addict, but my life choices could have led me down a similar path. I could have been just another headline. But I’m not.

I feel like I’ve spent most of 2014 in tears. In spite of all the pain and the moments where I gladly would have taken a bullet between the eyes, I didn’t fall back on my old habits. I didn’t drink. I didn’t scratch or cut myself. I refused to let that part of myself win. My greatest weakness can also be my greatest strength. I kept reminding myself that I’d clawed my way out of hell before. I’ve suffered. I’ve been bent. I never broke.

I firmly believe a lot of depressed people don’t give themselves enough credit. Even if you can’t force yourself to sit up in bed, you’re still breathing. You haven’t given up yet. You haven’t left the pillow over your face in the hope that it will smother you. It sounds silly to give your autonomic nervous system credit, but it’s not. It’s still doing its job. You’re not dead yet. Some days, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. I don’t believe in half hearted suicide attempts. I believe that there are ill conceived suicide attempts, but never half hearted ones. Raise your hand if you’ve tried something you knew was a bad idea and lived to tell about it anyway. I thought so. Give yourself the itty bitty bit of validation that you’re still breathing. As I said, a bullet between the eyes might be a gift from God some days. Other days, when the ol’ brain chemistry is normalizing, you can look around, take in all that you have, and smile.

Whether you’re fighting for yourself or someone else right now, hang in there. Keep converting oxygen into carbon dioxide. Sooner or later, you’ll find a door that leads to somewhere better.

*cue Gloria Gaynor*

You will survive.



Of being the one doing the talking off the ledge and 90 day time limits

I, of all people, have reached my moment of zen.

The transitional week is over. All the (virtual) paperwork has been done & we’re all officially reporting to J. Over the past week, he’s been trying to acclimate himself to our area. He managed to piss off my staff twice in 2 days. I’m the queen of putting my foot in my mouth, but he made me look like a shining example of tact. In all fairness, my staff had a right to be pissed. The powers that be wanted to make a change in the work hours. Currently the phone until is 9-6 & our area is 730-430. The powers that be wanted to move everyone from 9-6 for consistency. J told me this first & I knew it wasn’t going to go over well at all. I kept my mouth shut & let my staff speak for themselves. One has another job & the other is a single parent. The way J presented it was…less good. His reaction to their objections came off as dismissive. Ultimately, he agreed to see if he could negotiate different hours. The compromise was 8-5. That still didn’t go over well. Again, they objected. This time, he came across as just insulting. Instead of getting pissed at him, I let it go. It’s not worth fighting with him after less than a week. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

He eats, breathes, & lives his job. He doesn’t seem to understand that not everyone is like that. I got an email from him sent at 1 in the morning. I about fell out of my chair when I saw the time stamp. I spoke to my staff & told them to give it 90 days. If after 90 days, the schedule isn’t working out or they flat out aren’t happy, I would support whatever decision they made. Through all of this, I’ve been the calm one. The world hasn’t stopped rotating on its axis, but I had to check a few times to be sure.

The more Old Boss & I talked over the course of the week, the more I agreed this could be a positive change. I don’t think J is the asshole he came across. This situation has actually brought out the best in me. I haven’t thrown a temper tantrum. I’ve been the one encouraging everyone else to be open minded & give it time. I’m prepared to talk to J if I need to about how he keeps upsetting my staff. Y’all, I’M BEING A GROWN UP!

Yes, ponder that for a moment. My crippling self doubt hasn’t shown up at all. I realize this isn’t a personal affront. I’ve survived far, far worse than a management change. This is a mud puddle compared to the volcanic craters I’ve dragged myself out of this past year. It’s nothing I can’t handle. I feel like I should be pissed off, but I’m not. I’m accepting it for what it is. It spurred a much needed change. Life doesn’t have a reset button, but it might have a 6 second rewind button. That’s all I need.

In other news, I’m a dark brunette. Go new hair!


Of new bosses and the things that change will bring

This week brought a very unpleasant blow.

I won’t be reporting to my current boss any more.

There was a reorganization as happens frequently in Corporate America. Thursday morning, my boss told me that my group would be consolidated with the related phone unit under a new manager. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know just how much I love my boss. I literally had to walk away from my desk to go cry. After I cleaned myself up, my knee jerk reaction was “I’m quitting! I’m looking for a new job right. this. second!”. Not a very mature way to handle something like that, eh? After the shock wore off a bit, I was able to think a little more reasonably.

My new boss (J) is the guy I’ve mentioned being jealous of because he was promoted to a higher position before I was. Recently, I overheard him talking about the stress that said job is causing. I felt sorry for him and offered a suggestion he might want to try (Walk away from your desk to eat lunch. Sit in your car if you have to). I doubt he took my advice, but I shared it nonetheless. As I thought more about it, he seems pretty chill. If he gets flustered, he’s good at keeping it inside. I’m…not. There’s about 8 weeks left in the year. I decided to give it until then to see if we work out. If we don’t, then I’ll move on. If we do, yay! In the meeting where this was officially announced, he looked a bit like a deer in headlights. This is a change for him because he’s jumping into an area he knows almost nothing about. I’ve already been working on the whole “think before you speak” bit & I’ve resolved to do my best to help him out as he’s learning.

My staff was also cut as a result of the change. I went from four to two direct reports. The two I lost don’t relate to this new group at all. Of course, I took it personally. I was lamenting to my dad how, once again, I felt like a crappy manager. He offered up a cliche, but very solid advice.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

When I first started, I looked to the head of the department and did my best to emulate her level of sartorial choices. My (now former) boss’ boss never wears khakis and a polo shirt even though I see one of the CEOs sporting that outfit all the time. My wardrobe choices have relaxed into the level that most other people are wearing. I wore my version of a suit when I thought I would have to go in front of the other CEO (take two, they’re small). I felt good knowing that I looked professional. My boss complimented me on dressing for the occasion even though I didn’t end up going. I’d been putting off updating my work wardrobe anyway, so I took this as the kick in the ass I needed. I assessed my current wardrobe, made a list of what would fill it out, and went on my merry way. Now I have enough pieces to wear plenty of combinations of professional outfits during the week. My “casual Friday” look will elevate from jeans to J.Crew pants.

The second positive change is I finally asked if I could take another licensing exam. I’ve been going back and forth about asking. It’s a very specific exam only applicable to one department. I have to be willing to put a target on my back once I have this exam under my belt should they need another person in that area. Prior to my promotion, my boss had been strongly suggesting I try to get into that department. It would afford me a ton of opportunities to learn more about the business. I’m an expert in my little bubble, emphasis on the little, but don’t know much about how the rest of the company functions. I finally went to the head of the department, asked to take the exam, and she approved it. They foot the bill for study materials and the fee for the exam. If I fail, I’m on the hook for the fee after that. I know my competitive nature will kick in and I’ll want to keep my streak of passing each exam on the first try. In glancing at the outline, it’s fairly basic. They’ll just try to trick me on those “All of the following are true except…” questions. Sneaky, sneaky securities industry.

Even if I don’t report to my former boss any more, I’ll still have him as a mentor, a work neighbor, and even a friend. As much as I’m averse to change, perhaps this one will work out after all.