It’s six months now since I got back to work. It seems like forever… in a nice way. (Which is not to say that I can’t clearly recall my SAHM days.)
Work is such an extremely important facet of life. It’s important when you have it and important when you don’t; when you have too much or too little; when it’s too easy or too difficult; and when it’s interesting, boring, or completely mind-numbing.
Too much work and too much stress can turn life upside down as you struggle to find time for other vital things – sleep, food, exercise, friends… been there, done that. But too little work can be more soul-destroying than it sounds… been there and done that too!
Overall I’ve been fairly lucky with work in my life so far. I’ve usually been happy with my work, usually been able to manage it or do well at it, usually had a little too much, but not much too much, or a little too little, but not much too little. It’s been a happy and comfortable thing for me.
Not always, of course. In KF days, I had much too much work and much too much stress. I had a boss who I still maintain was great at her work, but was such an expert manipulator of people that it became impossible for me to work with her (because I didn’t like being manipulated). After we had clashed once too often, and when she wouldn’t let me change to another team in the same company, I quit.
After that experience, in my next organization I had a fantastic boss, until she left and then I had a stodgy, inert, indecisive boss who was biding his time till retirement. His aim in life was to close down our little team and he tried to do this by not giving me any work at all. After I had sat out being jobless for several months, he finally had his way and I quit.
And that, I think, has been the hallmark of my success – when things become unbearable, I quit. I doubt it’s a good strategy, or even a sane one – in fact, it sounds pretty irresponsible – but it’s worked for me. I leave an organization when things are bad enough that there’s no chance of retrieval, but before they become so terrible that you end up full of hate and bitterness. There’ve been times when I’ve quit without knowing where I was going to go next, but luckily, I’ve always had the luxury to do that. Perhaps I’d do it even if I didn’t have that luxury… but we’ll never really know for sure.
Even more luckily, when I’ve needed a job, something has always turned up after a bit of looking. And it’s usually been something that is right for that place, time, and state of mind.
This job, for instance. It’s perfect. The work is challenging and stimulating, but only very occasionally requires me to put in long hours. The office is not too far from home. The timings are reasonable and flexible, the commute is tolerable. And best of all, I have (once again) got a wonderful boss.
In my younger days, this would not have been enough. I would have wanted to be part of a larger team. I would have wanted a more fast-paced work environment. I would have looked for opportunities to grow and advance and without seeing those, I would have been restless and disappointed.
Now, things are different. I still want to grow and advance, but not with the same urgency. I can see that I’m in a great place and I’m in no hurry to grow out of it. My work gives me real satisfaction, even when there is stress, even when there are deadlines that I might miss due to circumstances completely beyond my control (because of course I’d never miss a deadline due to circumstances within my control).
Having been unemployed for two years – a very vital, but very long two years – right now, I value my work so much more than I ever did before.
This could change… the time is bound to come when things begin to go sour for some reason or other… but right now I’m in a warm and happy place, which is so difficult to find. I can only hope it lasts.