I was crying so hard driving home from work that I had to pull over.
This wasn’t the first time this had happened and it wasn’t going to be the last. Not for a while at least.
“It just sucks the life out of me” , I cried to my husband on the phone. “Nothing I do will ever be enough…I’m working my ass off and I don’t even fucking care about what I am doing!”
Soul-sucking. That’s how I describe the experience of constantly trying to do more and be more to succeed at a job that you find zero meaning or fulfillment in. And it is the way many women, unfortunately, feel in their jobs. I know because not only was I one of them but I worked with them and we talked about it ALL.THE.TIME.
“Will we ever be able to do enough to get recognized?”, we would ask each other. “Will “they” ever see the gifts and skills we have and put them to good use?”, “What were we working 55 – 60 hours a week for – did it even matter?”.
The answer was a resounding “NO”.
And yet there we were…there I was….running the rat race because everyone has to work right? And I should be grateful and proud to have a job at such a prestigious company. I got paid well, the benefits were amazing and….I had no idea how else I would make a living.
This is what Timothy Ferriss describes as “…fear of the unknown disguised as optimism” in his book “The 4-Hour Workweek”. When we tell ourselves all the reasons why we “should” stay at a job that makes us miserable and then pat ourselves on the back for “seeing the bright side” – all because we are afraid to take the leap into the great unknown.
I get it. I’ve been there. For approximately 15 years. Years where I knew there was more meant for me….but chose to stay because I didn’t “know” what else to do. In fact, I believed that I was not hirable in any other capacity except management consulting and resigned myself to the fact that this was as good as it got for me. AND it wasn’t THAT bad, right?
But here is the question I finally had to ask myself – How long was I willing to stay miserable for in the name of optimism?
Yes I had more than enough money and a secure job, but my body was falling apart. I was anxious and depressed and didn’t sleep properly without being jolted awake in the middle of the night by a “random” muscle spasm. Emotionally I felt depleted…like I had absolutely no more to give to anything or anyone.
This is the price you pay when you are putting blood, sweat, and (literally) tears into a job that doesn’t align with what is important to YOU. When you commit yourself to work that doesn’t have meaning for you and doesn’t utilize the gift you have to offer the world (remember – you and Miranda and I are all the same in that we have a gift to share!!).
And I was only 35. What would things look like if this went on until 65. Would I even make it until then?
It was then that I knew I could no longer allow my fear of leaving ….my fear of the unknown…to be disguised as optimism. I had a new fear and it outweighed the old one – the fear of what would happen if I stayed…
So, I stopped talking myself into staying and got real about what staying would cost me. What it had already cost me. And then, I quit my job and pursued my passion.
It was that simple but, it wasn’t easy. It was exciting, and terrifying and uncomfortable as hell (still is). But for me, that beats “soul sucking” EVERY.DAMN.DAY.
So, the next time you are feeling like you will never do enough or be enough to “make it” in your job, or you hear yourself saying “What am I doing this for – it doesn’t even matter to me”, or you “disguise your fear as optimism”, I want you to ask yourself this:
What is scarier…What will happen if you leave? or, What will happen if you stay?
P.S. The company I worked for is a fantastic organization that is perfect for the right person. Just not me.
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