While doing my ‘start the new year with a clean house’ cleaning, I happened upon a bit of paper with a little flowchart on it. I immediately remembered doing this on new year’s day 2018. It’s very telling.
I was extraordinarily miserable that last 6 months in my ‘role’, due to both fucked up role definition and expectations and also a number of people with power over me who were astonishingly toxic. The role stuff had been ongoing but with supportive management (Hi, Rod!) that was just something to slog through and deal with.
I had been prevented from moving internally to something I wanted to do by one of said toxic people – and at the same time put on shitty project work I should not have been on according to my role – so my career there was effectively over. I had no longer any interest working in a place where management and HR were actively working against my best interests (career and personal) and actively gas-lighting me at the same time.
As you can see from the diagram, I was torn between just leaving outright, and hoping for a redundancy – which is what I got after pushing for it. My job did actually 100% go away. Best outcome.
I came out of work actually very traumatised and it’s taken a long time to identify where and why, sort out what was going on, accept it, and start to work on dealing with it. It’s still going. I have moments of upset and anger at the way I was treated. Therapy tools have helped.
I fully expect my viewpoint on ‘work culture expectations’ will undergo severe changes in my future job as I discover how much bullshit I had learned to casually accept as normal. I got an inkling of how tolerant I actually am to corporate nonsense at the contract company I was at briefly: the other contractors were objecting to circumstances I viewed as staggeringly normal…apparently they are not!
It’s hard to know what extent to say it on a public forum, just that from August 2017 everything went just awful really fast and I never recovered. I ended up in a mediation session with an external, work appointed mediator (and one of the persons who was making my life intolerable) in November 2017 – who was excellent, and who also told me some home truths (“You will leave over this, it’s clear to me. Companies like this don’t keep people like you.”). She was so right. She assessed the culture of the company I was at with accuracy and it removed my last dregs of denial that things were ok or would get better. It’s amazing how fast a company you have loved working for for many years can turn into a horror-show when your values and their values no longer align.
Hence the relief when I was able to make the case for redundancy due to changed circumstances. That was in early Feb. I spent nearly two weeks doing documentation of handover and uploading it onto the intranet. My job title on leaving had, after all, been ‘Domain Specialist’ (subject matter expert) – and it would have been great to have been given the opportunity to do that training and information handover during the job (as was outlined in my job description. LOL Nope).
After it ended, 2018 has been one of the most extraordinary, painful, and glorious years I’ve ever had. I’ve had time to step out of the daily grind and think, do, act, not act, and consider my next steps.
Readers of this blog will have seen the art/craft stuff I did last year. I’ve tried new things – Monster High Repaints, building a craft house kit, macrame, polymer clay, art courses, jewellery making of various types, painting, gardening, crafting, finishing projects half done for years. An amazing opportunity to just live in the moment and create.
Once out, I had new things to do and think about. I realised that the above diagram didn’t cover the rest of the year and so I drew up a new one that does:
I went through cycles of discovery, existential crisis, learning curves, and as you can see, a lot of misery. I have been actively depressed for huge chunks of 2018. I’ve always suffered from cyclothymia – bouts of mild biopolar cycles between being totally fine, usually brought on by not being attuned to managing the ADHD energy fluctuations or distressing external circumstances.
It’s been a year of personal growth. I have been using the career placement company that I got through being redundant – my consultant and I have had a lot of discussions and assessments and workshops and ideas. The main thing I’ve found thought is it’s taking me my own timeline. You can’t mark in your diary “I will know what to do by this date and start doing it” if you honestly don’t know what you want to do, or what you DON’T know what to do. Defining both is important. I made that mistake all year, I’ve tried to push the process to guidelines that I set up in my mind as reasonable, and they were not. I was not ready.
The mistakes in approach I’ve done, though, have led to revelations. I have tried things – like looking into change analysis as a career, and it turns out to be dead ends (I have a heap of experience. I have no DIRECT experience with that as a job title).
You have no idea the amount of job interviews I’ve gone to and noped away from. One of the interviewers happened to know one of the ‘managers’ in my last role and clearly knew their reputation and tried to pump me for gossip/bitch/information during my job interview. Oh, what a small world it is, superannuation technology in Melbs. I shied away from that one, I had nightmares that night about working for that company after they suggested they’d find a place for me at another place I used to work for. NOPE NOPE NOPE.
I spent a LOT of time just wanting to have things easy and not have to push myself – by applying for the sorts of BA roles I’d done before; but I was bored and distressed applying for them. The interviews I had were the ones I wrote cover letters for – very few. I couldn’t rustle up the enthusiasm to even write a generic cover letter. That’s a hint right there, hey? The short term contract I did was proof of the fact that I was capable of BA/consultant work- and also that I never really wanted to do it again. But what else WAS there? Going back into a manual test team….URGH.
At some point in October something went PING in my head. I attended the Women in Test meetup and went ‘this is my tribe’, and had a long conversation with my ex-manager who runs the meetups, and he said some things that made sense (I know, right? 🙂 ). I also seriously started to think about the sorts of companies I wanted to work for and finally admitted the skills I have : BA, Manual Test, etc, are not required directly by those companies, despite the fact I know I’d be good in them. I have other experience that would be useful but not the job titles that go with it.
I had an interview with one place I’d like to work at, and they liked me, but I was lacking the technical skills – didn’t get the job. That was sad but I knew on the way out I didn’t have those skills. If only I had those skills.
It all crystallised at that point and the way out of my dilemma was clear: I had to step back, GET THOSE SKILLS, and then I could get the sort of role in the sort of place I want.
New thing. I have to learn a new thing. It’s been years since I’ve studied something so HARD. OMG. I’m used to being able to pick things up easily, and I’m not. It’s been more than anything a paradigm shift in thinking of certain concepts and chipping away at technical competency at the same time. I’ve been in tears of rage and frustration and hopelessness, but I’m working through it and I have hopes for the future. Am doing around 4 hours of learning a day on this now.
2019 is going to bring it’s challenges and I look forward to them.