This post is long overdue. (And it took a bit of restraint to not type the title in all caps, but I hope the exclamation points give you a small taste of how happy my heart is)
It’s been a very long, miserable road. If you’ve read any of my old posts, you know that I’ve been experiencing a common twenty-something struggle stuck in jobs I hate with no end in sight, and even questioning what to do with my life.
But to be honest…a small part of me thought that my situation was a little different. I see you rolling your eyes haha “Of course you think you’re different, Lauren…” No ego here, seriously – all of my fam and friends know I’m the last to toot my own horn, even when I sometimes should. It’s just that I’ve always worked hard – almost every summer from kindergarten through elementary school, my grandma (retired teacher) would teach me in a basement classroom; I always got good grades in school, was put in the advanced classes, and was always that asshole shooting her hand up in the air like “ooh, call on me, I know!” In high school and college I was the goody-goody student-athlete – never drank or stayed out late, just won races in track and would ace a test by cramming not too long before. I got academic and athletic scholarships. Did volunteer work and was on the mock trial team as well as a board for the athletic director…
I say all of this not to brag or give you my resume (lol), but to paint the picture of how “rosy” my life has been – because I made it that way. Not luck, a lot of hard work. This was largely due to my AMAZING parents – they are both shining examples of this – my entire life I’ve watched them work hard and make a very good living. So duh, naturally I thought this was they way things work! I mean, even if I don’t confine my views to my parents, you always hear celebrities or a founder of some tech company telling their “rags-to-riches” story – they had a passion and their hard work paid off.
So THAT is why I’ve been so miserable and frustrated the past few years. I just kept thinking “I’m not supposed to be here. WTF happened?” I’d look back at the rest of my life in disbelief – “this isn’t the way things work – I’ve worked hard, so why am I not getting what I deserve??”
And I’ve finally realized that there’s something they fail to tell you growing up – it’s not just smooth-sailing down a clear cut path, and good things happen to good people because they earned it. Good people get held back and crapped on too. I’m sure many of the rags-to-riches founders will tell you that they faced some adversity and had doors slammed in their faces, yet they kept pushing on. But for me, it seemed like I wasn’t asking for much – I wasn’t out to be the next billionaire. I was just a motivated girl who had always seen a direct correlation/payoff (do well, you get rewarded accordingly), and jumped into the real world with my degrees in hand and a big smile ready to work hard and be paid accordingly.
The real world just laughed at me – my first job out of college (sales) turned out to not be what I expected (none of us survived, dropped like flies and quit); I got an entry level job at one of the biggest financial firms in the world, went back to grad school while I was working because I was sure it’d move me from entry level to something higher; and once again, after I was openly c***blocked in that role and everyone hated the department, I moved on to my current department – I just knew that this would be different…turns out I was wrong again.
You see, the thing I’ve really learned from this whole experience – applying and interviewing for jobs for about three years straight – is that not everyone is capable of, or willing to recognize your hard work. Again, the “things they should’ve told me as a child.” I almost feel like you can get where you want to go…if someone lets you. Before you jump down my throat and feed me some “you’ve got to take that job you want!”, hear me out. I’ve wanted a better job for a few years…but it’s not like I could just go walk into a new office and plop down at a new desk like “what do you need done, boss?” And no, I’m not some timid, passive girl who just takes what’s given to me – I’m aggressive when necessary by following up, asking for more money, etc. I know you can’t live life by what people just toss to you – you’ve got to put yourself out there. But again, this is where my frustration was – I’ve worked hard…so why won’t you “let me?” ME – who has clearly worked harder than the rest of these people. The answer is that a lot of the people I saw moving were doing so because they knew someone. SHOCKER. (another one for “things they never told me”) I wouldn’t say I was so naive to think this wasn’t going on, but again – completely contrary to everything I’d ever experienced or thought was logical – I thought I’d be different and I’d “stay true to myself” – surely someone would be smart enough to hire me based on recognizing my track record of hard work.
WELL…the company I’m in is actually a culture of “knowing people” – I’ve been told this by many people internal and external. It’s casually told to the college interns/new grads. I’m not saying that none of them are qualified, but I will say this – a good amount of them aren’t vs others, and I’ve seen most managers make hiring decisions based on knowing someone. That’s not ok to me. (And yes, I even tried at one point to play into the culture on my own terms by joining committees – not to rely on that though, because I was confident that I could back it up with my qualifications…I know you want to say I didn’t get where I wanted to bc I didn’t play the game – that’s not the case). I’m just not one to tap a friend on the shoulder and say “hey can you get me into this job?”, whether I know I’m qualified or not, I just think that you should be hired based on merit and merit alone. It sounds naive, I know. But I don’t settle…
So what do you do? If you’re stuck in an environment that won’t allow you to thrive or is willing to reward hard work…you change the environment. Some people think I’m crazy for leaving such a prestigious firm. And I know this place isn’t the only place driven by the “knowing someone” thing. It really came down to this – I took a deep breath, and thought: hey, at least if I have to deal with bullshit, let it be in a place where I can grow and be paid what I should be.
I ended up getting more than I expected!!! Not only do I get to actually use what I went to school for, but I get to help people, I get more $$, and the company is clearly one to hire/promote based on merit. I know this because they kept commending me on my accomplishments thus far – on the inside I was screaming “thank you, finally! Someone gets it.” haha Also, the current team members have been there for years, and they kept moving up in the team – NOT because they came in from another department and knew someone. I just have a really good feeling about this – it’s something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. I’ll actually look forward to going to work (what?) I just feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders.
My last day at “yucky firm” is this Friday. Ask me how productive I’ve been the past 10 days. I mentally checked out a long time ago, but am still chugging through. And no rest – I start new job on Monday bc they said they need to train me asap. I can’t wait to jump in – I’m so eager. And I’m so ready to make the most out of this opportunity that I’ve been reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.” This really is a long term thing to me – career, not “the next job” anymore. Wow, that felt really grown-up, yikes.
It feels good that I’m not just running away from something, but actually running to something awesome. Life really has just been falling into place lately – job, fam and friends, getting better at CrossFit…and even a new guy (shh – it’s early, let’s wait to see how it goes and then maybe discuss) Things are looking up (it’s about time!) It reminds me of some quote about when you move towards your “right life” your luck will seem unbelievable. Here we go – wish me luck 🙂