Over My Head

“Maybe the only way to move up is to BE in over your head,” she says to me in a parking lot.

I followed a colleague of mine into the 60-degree sun to tell her about a recent job interview I was preparing for. She referred me to the job. I wanted the job, but I wondered if I would look like a fool, if my presentation to the VPs would somehow misrepresent my good work ethic and detailed organizational manner.

My colleague disagreed.

“Do you want to keep doing the menial tasks you do now? This is your way out.” It’s true. I am comfortable where I am now, but I’m not going anywhere. There is no room for growth, and in the year that I’ve continued to ask for a promotion, I’ve been denied.

They keep hiring on other employees, though. I’m still contractual. They say it’s because they don’t have the “funding.” I started a master’s program in industrial/organizational psychology. I know what “less than valued” means. 

So for six months I’ve looked for an alternative. And I’ve beaten myself up about not getting callbacks, finding the appropriate salary, or stable benefits.

My colleague, who stands before me with a slouched stance and a cropped 50’s blond haircut, has been with me the whole time. She has an amazing resume in journalism and media relations, but here she is working a job she had to take when the newspaper business went south.

She’s never lost hope, and although I see her scurry around the office in a stressful bustle day-to-day, she always does her job well. She puts her heart and soul into work whether that be trying to demystify the html code on her computer or write an important story near deadline.

Here I am complaining about being “in over my head” when it comes to these job interviews. I’ve become so comfortable with not trying and letting my job just be a job so that it doesn’t destroy my mental health that I forgot what it means to really “try.”

I’m selfish when it comes to compensation. I don’t feel any organization or office deserves my all if I don’t feel I’m being rightly compensated. Very much the American youth mindset, I know. But as a woman, I also feel it’s my responsibility to stand up for myself and ask for what I think I deserve.

I do appreciate the fact I have a job, closely related to my field, and that pays well enough to cover the bills. But when I look at my superiors making thousands more than me (and I know I could do a better job), it’s hard not to hate.

But one tactic that has saved me from a downward slope is this: cutting my personal and professional life in half. I no longer vent about work when I come home. It’s the same story in three different versions, and it’s not helping my stress level or my boyfriend’s by constantly reiterating the facts.

By not talking about it (except for this blog post, of course), I don’t think about it, and I definitely don’t dream about it anymore. And what do you know? In the few weeks since I took this step, I started a blog, I applied for more jobs (one of which I’m interviewing for this week), and attended a few networking events.

Leaving work at work turned out to be pretty productive, eh? As my colleague would say:

“You may think you’re in over your head, but I think you’re right where you need to be.”

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