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.