Forging a New Identity

One of the iconic totem animals of my zodiac sign is a phoenix, which I’ve always found pretty nifty. The idea of knowing that I have the power to rise from the ashes of any screw-up I can manage to create is rather empowering…and intimidating. Knowing that this is one of my cosmically-bestowed gifts brings with it a unique type of pressure, and one I still haven’t figured out how to deal with consciously.

Everyone, of course, goes through stages of growth and development. Few, if any of us, are so cursed to be the same gawky kid that wandered through the halls of our high schools, though many of us may still carry some of those traits. I am still a voracious reader, and though my writing seems to have slowed proportionally to the amount of “free” time I have, I’m still writing. I still have a dream to become prolifically published, but I don’t have a crazy stalker-ish crush on the boy I nicknamed “Superman” during my formative years. I am significantly more comfortable with my geeky traits and actively seek to indulge them without an iota of guilt or shame. I am not as physically awkward, though I cannot claim full comfort in my skin, and I still have the tendency to be quite shy, particularly around men.

My loyalty, my tenacity and my disregard for my own interests is what’s getting in my way right now.

I love my job, though some of the characters on the stage are somewhat…challenging to deal with. I love being able to make a difference in the life of an individual even if on a small scale, and I enjoy being someone they can look up to, look to for help and know that while I won’t roll over and give them a cheap answer, I will challenge them with respect because of my faith in their abilities.

A previous supervisor told me I needed to learn to say no, and would intentionally set me up with impossible tasks only to (lovingly) fuss at me when I’d take it all on and spend 60 hours at work in any given week. Her exasperation at my willingness to cooperate was both admiration and concern in equal measure. She told me that my life would suffer if I didn’t learn how to step back from a challenge. I disagreed. I am, after all, Lois Lane (or so my high school year book Senior Memories states. Ahh, the warped things our first real “crush” makes us do…) and whether or not Superman rushes in to sweep me out of the flames of danger, I always seem to get out of any mess with nary a scrape or a torn stocking.

I really hate admitting when I’m wrong, even though I know it’s healthy and I will force myself to do it.

I was wrong.

…but I have valid reasons!

The job I’m in is in a growing company, and the job I’m doing has never been done there before. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel, necessarily, but I am charting previously unexplored territory and drawing my own maps. This means trying to figure out how much time I really have available to allot to listening, critiquing and how much has to be feedback. When should I deliver feedback after listening, and how will that figure in to the conversation I need to have with them about bonuses, and how much time I can spend with the team lead under me to make sure she has the development SHE needs to lead the six under her?

My sense of loyalty screams “DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE SURE THEY ALL HAVE WHAT THEY NEED!” and the little voice from deep inside that’s waiting for me to sit down and work on my fiction again whimpers and says, “but what about me?”

I was taught to work hard. I have a Yankee work ethic. I am in a fast-paced, quick-changing, and rather unstructured environment where it’s difficult to say “I cannot be bothered between these hours.” I’m presented with new challenges daily from company figureheads and expected to work that in to the day to day with a “make it happen” kind of lassiez-faire. And my “real job,” the career I want to foster and have for decades beyond this one, is suffering. I’m trying to figure out where to draw the line in the sand, but the tide is coming in and it’s washing away my marks. So now the onus is on me to determine how I’m going to rise from the chaos of this formative fire and get everything I want out of the experience. I know I can do it, and I will, but the how has me a little stumped at the moment.

I wouldn’t recommend watching the flame, dear spectators, as I have a feeling it’s going to burn white-hot for a while. I wouldn’t want you to go blind before you have a chance to see my name in print… 😉

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