General Feeling of Angst

As the psychologist Carl Jung said, mid-life is a time to listen deeply to your heart. Whether we plan for this or not, midlife can be a period of transition and reappraisal. More inner questioning can occur.- Craig Nathanson, from Happiness and Work: Your Life Depends On It

So yeah, I am still here.  I am just mulling over lots of stuff, struggling with some other stuff, pondering life choices and rapidly coming to the conclusion I am in some sort of midlife crisis.

I could be wrong. It could just be a career crisis.  Either way, since I spend so much time working, having a career crisis is having a life crisis. And I am 42. Thats midlife, right?

I havent been blogging much lately due to the fact that I am very angsty.  This is a bit surprising since writing is generally my outlet, my muse. Writing helps me sort out my feelings. Putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard tends to be a cleansing ritual. So lets cleanse, shall we?

Career
Ugh.  I am incredibly unhappy professionally. I wont go into detail (too much) due to the presumed need to protect myself and my employer. I can offer that less than six months ago I was re-orged into a new department.  Very simply, I do not fit there.  In my old department I was classified as a PM II and my duties were split between technology enabling communications (developing sites, electronic vehicles, multimedia) and some degree of executive and employee communications.  I am an “okay” business writer (though trained as a technical writer) and was tasked with regularly generating memorandums, communications and such for a 2K person IT organization, its executives and more. I was also responsible for large event planning, this machination commonly known as Town Hall Meetings or All Hands Meetings.  The position capitalized on my strong PM skills, my technical background, my writing ability. I worked with IT people who by their nature are introverted and a little, well, off (no offense to any tech folks out there but surely you will agree it takes a special kind of person to write code for hours on end, fight with a bug in the program and then squeal with delight and a few fist pumps after you find the error in your code).  Our release manager had sleeves of tattoos, our VP of Operations was an odd little bird that rarely talked in large groups but in small groups could motivate you to move mountains. Staff composition was Business Analyst, Project Managers, Tech Leads, Developers, etc.

I fit.   Life was good.

I was reorged into another department and it was painfully evident to me I did not fit. At first I changed my clothing (bought more conservative things). Then I pondered ceasing coloring my hair. I bought a new notebook, started wearing the corporate pin on my lapel and did my best to be like those around me. I tried to conform (and I must admit I suck at that).  Within less than three months, my new boss critiques my introverted nature, my apparent lack of social skills at the water cooler (I thought I was paid to work not gossip?), questions my work product (which had been stellar in the other department), tells me I am not getting a merit increase (although my performance review warranted it) due to the fact that I make more than my new peers in my new department. Blah blah blah. There is more but you should get the gist.

It’s ugly. It’s stressful. I feel as though the writing is on the wall and if I don’t read it will be printed for me on a nice piece of pink paper in 25 point bold face hell-vetica font  I have been with my employer for six years and in recent years (like many companies in my industry) they have struggled. Layoffs and outsourcing is a weekly occurrence.  Add that to existing writing on the cubicle wall.

I am looking for a new job while I struggle to keep the one I have.  The market is not good in my area. There are quite a few postings for PM jobs but due to job changes the past two years my resume looks weak. I had been studying for my PMP certification and then put it on hold (for reasons I cannot even remember now).  Not having obtained that certification is working against me in this market. I am also rather limited in my ability to cast a wide net. I drop my youngest son off at school 3 days a week and must work in the general vicinity.  Small area, not many jobs, no PMP?  Daunting.

And yet, while I struggle with all of this, I realize I am not even sure I WANT to do what I have been doing. I crave something more creative, more useful, more appreciated, more than just my paycheck.  Dream much? Career crisis much? Yeah baby.

And I think about going back to school. Sadly, I don’t really want to go back to school for career changing purposes but rather to learn, to be stimulated, to complete that which was left incomplete oh so many years ago.

And I stop. And I start. And I stop.  I search monster.com. I ponder a career coach. I even think about looking up my old therapist.  Is this why seemingly responsible middle age men go out and buy corvettes and cheat on their wives?  Is this midlife crisis or is this Suz being Suz? Perhaps this is just a crappy job situation and that given time it will pass?

I am not convinced.  There is more to this here. A deep longing inside me that is looking, wanting, hungering for something. I don’t know what it is.

Then my childhood teachings, that Irish Catholic guilt bullshit speaks up and yells at me. Tells me I should be happy with what I have (I am) and stop the pissing and moaning. That voice tells me to be happy I have cooked carrots on my plate even if they make me vomit when I try to eat them. That voice reminds me there are hungry people somewhere else in the world that would welcome the chance to eat my cooked carrots. That voice tells me I am being selfish and wanting too much.

Is that what I am doing? What I am feeling? Pissing and moaning?  Lets put this in context here. I have a great partner (fabulous really), a wonderful lovely, eclectic home. I have two fabulous sons. I have food on the table, health insurance and savings.  I have my health (for the most part…I am still struggling with vertigo and migraine issues).  My life really is very good.  I am very blessed.

Then why the longing? Why the confusion? Why all the angst? More important than why, is how am I going address it.

Adoption
As for adoption? I don’t have the time to think much about it. No really.  My mind is so consumed with work related angst I cannot go well, THERE.  It makes things worse, not better. My daughter’s birthday is also approaching and facing the painful reality of knowing where she is, knowing what her email is and NOT being able to even wish an effing happy birthday to her is seriously messing with my mind. I am pissed at her, pissed at adoption, pissed at myself. Again. I am angry and in pain. Yet, as a blogger friend suggested in her own recent post, I haven’t got time for the pain.

I need to accept the things I cannot change and find the courage to change the things I can.

I am working on it.

8 Thoughts.

  1. “started wearing the corporate pin on my lapel”

    At 42 this is a dangerous sign! It is so hard to try and fit in which usually ends up being a bunch of BS and you feel like you have betrayed yourself in the end. Sometimes though you just have to suck it up.

    From my perspective you have your career ahead of you. Warning though, it is tougher to get hired in the corporate world after 50 unless you at the top of your game so make your moves with that knowledge.

  2. angelle2 :

    “started wearing the corporate pin on my lapel”

    At 42 this is a dangerous sign!

    LOL. This made me laugh. I must agree with you. Also on the statements of work after 50. Maybe I should change this post to say I am 24?

  3. Well u know I am a IT geek as well babe….u for sure are navigating some rough waters at work right now during a very difficult job market….hang in there kiddo and yeah since I am 46 I can call u kiddo….
    Hugs & all my love and support…

  4. For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re pissing and moaning. And I had to laugh at the corporate pin statement the above poster made too – just doesn’t seem like you.

    I don’t have any answers for you, just lots of *hugs* and “I hope something works out for you.” sounds excruciating the way things are.

  5. Suz, you are definitely in mid-life and crises are definitely normal at that point. Did that myself in my early forties (I’m now approaching 60) and am actually having another one right now. I believe it’s healthy to evaluate our lives (career, relationships, goals and dreams) every now and then. I also believe that angst signals the need for a change. I wish your company hadn’t yanked you out of the the department where you were so happy. But even if they hadn’t, you might be going through the same thing, just not so desperately. One of the things that helped me was a career coach of sorts. Being tested for my interests, talking about alternative opportunities, opening my mind to different paths. Life’s too short not to enjoy your work. I realize the market is tough right now. I suggest using the time to consider your goals and options. Truly, you would thrive in a more creative environment.

    And BTW, what you expressed is NOT pissing and moaning. 🙂

    Hugs, D.

    • Denise – Thanks. Very comforting to hear the experiences of others. I love that quote I put on this post as it speaks to what I am feeling. I am doing my best to listen to my heart.

  6. I’m breaking all my rules here tonight.

    I totally get the wanting to have a career/occupation that I feel passion for. It’s a wish of mine. I peruse job postings all the time, look at courses. My situation is more secure than yours which is what stops me from doing anything to change employment. Perhaps your precarious work situation is an opportunity of sorts?

    Also, don’t stop colouring the hair. I just went through this the other day with my hair person and she convinced me I’m not old enough yet (and I’m waaay older than you at 47) to let it go gray, or cut it really short as is my plan….someday 😀

  7. As re: hair coloring. Agree with Campbell. Funny little story… when I found my son, I had a hair tail (short hair with a long thin piece in the back), which I’d taken years to grow from scratch, not had long hair and then cut the rest. My thing was nails. I’d had long acrylics for years, worn in wild colors and sometimes with ornaments. I was 45 years old. Once I “became a mother,” I decided I had to get more serious. I had the tail cut off and the acrylics removed (and have had shortish natural nails ever since). I’ve had to wrestle my way back to wanting to look, act and dress strangely. Neither mothers (nor corporate employees) need to sacrifice their fun and creative side. 🙂

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