There are times at my job when I want to punch holes in the wall. Working at a startup has its frustrations; uncertainties, sudden changes in direction, unclear expectations, i.e., all things that drive me insane. I’m the type of person that has always liked having things laid out in front on them. When I was 11 my family went to Paris and my step-mom created a printable itinerary. Most people would find this excessive or irritating but she did it solely to please me, and I was ecstatic. I loved knowing what was going to happen. Even a few months ago I went on a trip to Montreal by myself and I had a list of things to do in the order I would do them in. Now that I’m an adult and I’m trying to be less controlling and obsessive, I gave myself a little wiggle room on my trip, but nonetheless I found great comfort in knowing what I was going to do each day and at what time (for the most part).
Working for a startup has caused me to abandon finding a sense of comfort in knowing what’s going to come. I’ve only been working at my job for a few months, but dear god how much has changed in those few months. After only working there for less than two months I was told that I had to create all the documentation for a product I had no idea how to use for one of our most important clients. No problem. Then I was told I had about 10 months less than thought I had to complete it. F****************ck.
That was maybe two months ago but it feels like an eternity. I’ve had to do so many things I’ve never been comfortable with; asking people questions, assuming I am not correct, talking to people, etc. Needless to say, it has been uncomfortable and quite stressful at times. But my point is not to bitch and moan that my job is hard, jobs should be challenging. My point is that I started to lose sight of all the good about my job because I was so caught up in the bad.
Is it annoying when you’re told you have to write about things you literally know nothing about to an ‘expert audience’ and then be given no further guidance? Yeah, that sucks. But what about when you find out that any time you ask someone for help they ALWAYS make time to meet with you? Pretty cool. What about when someone NEVER responds to your emails and you have to physically hunt them down? Well, that’s stupid. But then someone holds up a bottle of whiskey and signals for you to come over to have a tasting at 4pm on a Monday? Pretty f**king awesome
I’ve found a solid amount of reasons not to like my job, but I realized I’ve found even more reasons to love my job. I’ve been so caught up on focusing on the negative that I was letting all the positive pass me by. Fun fact: if you look miserable, people will not want to talk to you. If you smile and say “Hey what’s up?” you will more often than not be greeted with a smile and an occasional invite to happy hour.
When I feel down (see http://www.ihavethecrazy.wordpress.com) I have a tendency to do something my mom refers to as “awfulize”. Anyone can do this, regardless of your mental state. It pretty much means that you see a situation as awful without any silver lining or hope for change. I do this more often than I care to admit. When I’m feeling good it’s easier to be like, “Hey, it’s just an off day. You’ll write better content tomorrow.” Or “You’re not even friends with any of those people, why would they invite you to their team dinner? You don’t even know their names.” But some days it’s more like, “You are a huge disappointment. You suck as a writer.” And, “Everyone hates you. You have no friends.” It happens to all of us and it sucks.
What I’m trying to say is that if you can try to gain a little perspective it makes life SO much easier. When my commute into the city tries to suck my soul to live I try to remember, “You’re on your way to the awesome gym you joined because your job gives you a flexible schedule.” Does my commute still suck? Hell yeah. Getting stuck in between Atlantica Terminal and Canal Street is like some demented vortex but hey, when I get out I get to go to my gym where I see nice people and coaches who are all about lifting heavy sh*t. Lifting heavy sh*t makes you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that I cannot describe, but that’s for a future post. After that I get to go to work and have no one give me a bitch look for coming in at 10am. Because I get my sh*t done. My job trusts me to do a good job and that’s what I do, when it works for me. I’m really lucky to work for a company like that.
Sometimes it’s hard to have a positive perspective (agian, see http://www.ihavethecrazy.wordpress.com), but if you can try to have one more often than not, I feel fairly confident in saying that you’ll feel a lot better. It’s hard to refocus your thoughts. It’s much easier to blame the world for your problems and give in to the fact that life sucks. Life can suck so much of the time, but if you try to acknowledge that and then find the little silver linings life doesn’t seem so bad. Do I like living in the city? No. Do I like living with my boyfriend, near my family and some of my closests friends, and working for a startup that lets me drink in the office? Hell yes. When I really think about it, all the things I hate about where I live are cancelled out by the things that I love (but don’t tell my boyfriend, or I won’t be able to vent out the disasters of taking the subway).
If you can find more reasons to love something than you hate something, then focus on those reasons. Conversely, if you find more reasons to hate something than you love it, you may need to reevaluate some things (check this out). Is everything in life perfect? Absolutely not. There is no perfect job, no perfect city, no perfect partner (although mine is pretty perfect). I know I’m not perfect – I change my mind every 30 seconds, I have to be reminded to wipe my feet off when I get out of the shower, and I have questionable health standards when it comes to eating things that fell on the ground. But I think my person is able to see the positives – I love hard, I’m incredibly passionate about my craft (writing, duh), and some day I’ll make a kick ass mom. Plus my butt is not looking too bad these days thanks to my new gym. But again, I digress – look at your life, look at your choices. Gain some perspective; if things are overall good, embrace it and try to learn to deal with the bad. But if things are truly bad, reevaluate and make some changes. Change is hard but oh my god is it worth it. A year ago I was unemployed after a failed freelance job at a tech startup that just went bankrupt. Keep your head up and count your blessings, if you smile more than you cry you’re doing just fine.