I’ve made the determination that I am damaged goods.
That’s all. Good night!
No, just kidding. I can’t just say that and then go away, I suppose. So…here’s the thing…
When I was at the bank, rising up through the ranks, I was pretty doggone confident. Oh, not regarding myself personally, of course, but when it came to my job performance, you bet. I was good at what I did. When new positions opened up, I applied for them. Why? Because I wanted to advance, in order to have a more impressive title or make more money? No. I mean, all of that was nice, but honestly, that wasn’t why. I applied for everything that came along because I knew I could do it, whatever it was. I don’t mean for that to sound smug. It wasn’t really about my abilities, even. It was about how hard I was willing to work. I genetically inherited a need to be punctual and have an amazing work ethic. No, that’s not true, I don’t think. I don’t think it was inherited. It was just the example set before me as I went through life. Our family was laid back, goofed around, and laughed a lot. My room was never clean – at least not by my hand – and I was horrible about getting homework done and studying. (Where does Ethan get it??) But you know what? I also knew that we had to leave super early for church each Sunday and Wednesday, to make sure we weren’t late. By the time I got my first job, I think I instinctively knew what it was to deliver good customer service and how to be a valuable employee. That mattered. That still matters. I want to be the best at what I do. Always.
The meaning of that has changed, however. Once, that meant that I needed to stand out among others. I needed to be the one my employers relied on. I needed to be the one they raved about in board meetings. I needed to be the one getting offered promotions. I needed to be the one other companies contacted regarding open positions they had, even if I knew I wasn’t even really considering leaving my current position. I needed to be in demand. And I was.
None of that makes me damaged goods. At least I don’t think so! I am proud of my work ethic. I am proud that I’m usually not late unless I have a really good reason. I am proud of things I’ve accomplished.
And then I went through a career crisis. Well, then it felt like a career crisis. Now, of course, I recognize that it was a rescue mission, staged by God. Things got nasty and I walked away – but not before I realized that being the best at what I did wasn’t always going to be enough. Sometimes, even when you’re the best at what you do, there are people who don’t like what you do, because you don’t do it exactly their way. Sometimes people are out to get your job. Sometimes people are just trying to be who they think they need to be in order to secure their employment, or secure future advancement. And sometimes people are willing to do whatever it takes. And it’s not that they don’t care about what they are doing to other people – it’s that they don’t even think about it. And sometimes you’re left in dismay as your employer sits there and tells you what you have been doing, and what you haven’t been doing, and that you’re not working hard enough. And it doesn’t matter that you actually didn’t do what they said you did, and that you did do what they said you didn’t. And it doesn’t even matter that you’re working harder than anyone else. None of it matters. Because they believed the wrong people.
But, hey…no big deal. Because at the end of all of that, they tell you how awesome you are, and how important and valued you are. They tell you that you’re the future.
But it’s too late. The damage is done. You know that it’s time to walk away, because you know that you’re giving everything you have, and it will never be enough. They can’t let it be enough, so it never will be. So you hold your head high and get out. Actually, you run. As fast as you can. And you never look back. There is no regret, not even for a moment. You’re free, and you’re happy, and you’re so very blessed. Everything is better. Well, the money isn’t better, but you honestly and truly do not care. And everything else really is better.
Except the confidence has been shaken. Not shattered, but definitely shaken. You gave everything you had, and it would never be enough. That wasn’t even your fault, and you know that, but you still can’t help but think you’ve lost your edge.
And then, miraculously (and I’m not using that word lightly), you end up in your dream job – before you even know it’s your dream job. You’re working with friends for God’s glory. You love your job. Every single thing about it – even the tough things – you love and are able to see as blessings from God.
But there are these moments – tiny, insignificant moments – when you doubt yourself. You never doubt God, or the calling, or the people you work with, but you doubt yourself. You cry because you get frustrated with yourself, because you’re not picking something up as immediately as you think you should. As you think you should. No one is pressuring you or pushing you, or making you feel anything less than loved and valued. And yet you have this voice in your head which says, once in a while, “You didn’t do this. You did do that. And you’re not working hard enough.” Even though you are, and even though everyone else knows you are. And then you feel like a crazy lady, and you’re mad at yourself for crying, and you’re frustrated. You’re not frustrated with your job performance. You’re frustrated that people in the past who were only saying what they said in an attempt to control you actually seem to have some control over you now. After you walked away, with your head held high.