A Visitor Among Residents

I feel thoughtful and a little reactionary, which probably means this post will come off as self-indulgent and uninteresting. I blame HR. Just kidding, Tracy. Sort of. When I hired in, there was no HR department. The company I work for is growing rapidly; we recently hired eight more people for the department in which I work. Pretty soon we’ll have an employee handbook, and policies are coming down the pipe faster than Drano.  What used to feel like a few people hanging out, building links (I thrived in that atmosphere), now feels like a job – a job in a Young Company with Young People. The president and partners are all younger than me.  It’s not that I feel older and wiser or anything like that. No, I’m comfortable with my leaders. Very. My issue is that I sometimes struggle with how on track everyone around me is. Their young lives going along in an orderly fashion, and I feel how differently I’ve done things. Sometimes I’m thankful for the weird turns my path has taken and sometimes I just feel behind in life – or maybe it’s more like sideways. Surely everyone, no matter their “track,” feels the same kind of dual thankfulness and insecurity about how they’re living, changing, and achieving.

Lately at work, the insecurity I’ve been feeling annoys the piss out of me. Here’s the thing(s): I’m 36 years old, in an entry level job, with aspirations to become a YA author. The “typical” employee at my company is fresh out of college, or transitioning here from a first or second job. He or she is looking to begin a career in a flashy young company, grow with it, and learn the shit out of it, and get into a position to support a nice lifestyle for self or family. And, according to new policies, this kind of employee will be rewarded for his or her investment in the company. It’s a lot like the “college-bound” kids in high school – who the classes and curriculum are designed for. But what if I’m on a different path, one that is not headed for college, so to speak? Do I still fit?

Because I’m on a different path, I don’t need that A+ grade and that citizenship certificate. I’m not motivated by it. I want to provide for my kids and husband, and I want to do a good job – because I care about the company. And I like it there. But, it is and always will be less of a priority than the other parts of my life: family and writing. This, I feel like, puts me into a non-traditional grouping (maybe a group of one person), and that leads to my insecurity. It’s not that I think I deserve a reward for having different priorities, it’s just that I see everyone else on the traditional path, and I find myself veering that way, feeling fake, and then asking myself what I’m doing. Kind of like visiting a southern state and picking up the accent. Suddenly you’re like, “Oh shit, I’m a poser. I don’t really talk like this.” And in many ways I think I’ll always be a visitor among residents in my job. I really hope so, anyway. Even if it makes me “less” of a worker and no matter the insecurity I feel. I’ll always love my family and the craft of writing more than building links. It’s a conviction as well as a decision. And, now it’s on the record.

Published by jody sparks

Jody Sparks Mugele spent her first career in marketing writing and leading teams of writers and editors. After her son came out as transgender in 2015, she dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. For two years, she led the Indianapolis regional chapter of PFLAG, a nationally renowned LGBTQ+ advocacy group. She has given many conference talks about parenting trans kids, healthcare in the trans community, and suicidality among LGBTQ+ youth. And with GenderNexus, an Indianapolis-based advocacy organization, she created programming and led support groups to work with parents to help their children through all aspects of gender transition. She recently moved to Northeast Georgia where she is excited to develop opportunities to continue to strongly and proudly advocate for LGBTQ+ members of our society. She also LOVES kitschy Christmas crafting!

12 thoughts on “A Visitor Among Residents

  1. I feel you, Jody! Remember we are NOT old- and we’ve probably had more fun and rewarding paths! You’ve got so many great stories and I can’t wait to read your first published novel!

  2. I’m with you, lady. I love librarianship but it just isn’t my only interest and my only future. When we’re around others (even a lot of others) for whom their industry or even just general career success/promotion/bonuses are their main interest, it can make you feel little left out. But maybe when they’re around others who have a lot of outside interests or prioritize family time, they feel left out, too. Just be confident in your own choices!

  3. I think following your own path is fine. Your job is to support your family for now until Josh graduates and your YA writing career takes off. That’s okay. But for those that don’t have that dream and the business or whatever is their career/dream, that’s okay too. Don’t be insecure in what you’re choosing. If it’s right for you, it’s great.

  4. Dear Ms. Jody,
    Mother Hen here to say that there is always the road not taken. Always! Part of growing in maturity (or maybe it IS just getting older)is that you start to realize the future isn’t full of endless possibilities after all, but that we all make choices to include or exclude/emphasize or not emphasize certain things.

    Our choices define who we are, and change who we will be in the future.
    It all is a bit exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

    Now that she is finished waxing philosophical, Mother Hen is off to clean the caca out of the coop. Nothing like a little reality to put everything in perspective!
    Profoundly yours,
    Mother Hen

  5. I feel you, Jody! Remember we are NOT old- and we’ve probably had more fun and rewarding paths! You’ve got so many great stories and I can’t wait to read your first published novel!

  6. I’m with you, lady. I love librarianship but it just isn’t my only interest and my only future. When we’re around others (even a lot of others) for whom their industry or even just general career success/promotion/bonuses are their main interest, it can make you feel little left out. But maybe when they’re around others who have a lot of outside interests or prioritize family time, they feel left out, too. Just be confident in your own choices!

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