April 11, 2018
The Interim CEO gathers all the staff on the 4th floor of our organization. I walk to the printer to grab some documents and my colleague asks me if I am coming. “Coming to what?” I say. She shrugs and says “I don’t know, some emergency meeting.” I had a dentist appointment that morning, I was going to stay an extra 30 minutes to fit in a cleaning, but decided against it as I was already cutting about two hours out of my work day. I really wish I would have stayed. The interim CEO crams us all into a small conference. He smiles in each of our faces. “Before any rumors start, we wanted to talk to you first.” We all look at each other, I took in the many furrowed brows. “The organization will begin to start some transitions. Corporate has decided that there will be some restructuring throughout the organization. There will be opportunities available and we will see what we can do, it is all very nebulous.” (He says this three or four times). The rumbles and questions begin.
“When will this start?”
“We don’t know.”
“What opportunities will be available?
“We don’t know.”
“Who will be impacted?”
“We don’t know.”
“Why are we here?” I thought to myself. They provided us with zero information and only made people panic.
April 27, 2018
I worked up the nerve to schedule an informal interview with the director of another entity within the medical system. It took me several days to craft a two sentence e-mail and a low-grade anxiety attack when they asked for my resume. My coworker was in my cubicle when I read the response “that’s good right?” she said. I, on the other hand, have no chill so I proceeded to hyperventilate as tears formed in my eyes. She watched me, her hands covering her mouth, as she stood there stunned. “What’s happening? I don’t know what to do!” I was trying to use telekinesis to tell her to leave, but she stayed and grabbed my hand. Her eyes pleaded with me to tell her what was happening. Her panic-stricken face opened a doorway for me to try to relax. I steadied my breathing and said “Things got too real, sorry!?” In an effort to make me feel better, she went on what felt like a 10 minute soliloquy on why she feels I am a great person and destined for greatness.
May 1, 2018
I meet with the director, he is a nice, tall, smiley man. It turns out, we have walked past each other on multiple occasions. Before talking about the position I was inquiring about, he wanted to talk about my goals, my passion, and where I see myself. I told him that I wanted to manage projects, run programs, change policies, and have a hand in transforming healthcare and making it accessible to everyone. “So you don’t want to be a Social Worker?” he says, (I was not applying for a social work titled job). “Well contrary to popular belief, social work does not only entail case management, psychotherapy, or one-on-one/micro level interventions. I am interested in the part of social work the directly affects whole systems, organizations, and communities. Macro-level social work, as we call it.” He nodded his head and smiled. He said nothing and stared at me for long periods of time. I tried to fill the dead air with nervous laughter. We spoke for 45 minutes and in the end he basically told me he likes me, he likes my ambition and work ethic, but he is looking for someone else. The blow to my ego was fierce, but I was proud of myself for “putting myself out there” and taking a chance. To release some of the stress, I cried in the stairwell.
Today, May 3, 2018
The morning started off a little rocky; I could not find my shoes, I left my phone in my apartment, and was late picking up my carpool buddy. First-world problems. Shortly after we arrived in the office, we received a cryptic e-mail from my boss. She wanted to talk with us, she did not say what it was in regard to. She informed us that the former CEO of our organization passed away. He was such a good person; he was funny, caring, and really wanted to change things in our organization. Because of this, system leadership wanted to push him out and forced him into an “early retirement”. That was 10 months ago. He would periodically send us pictures of his adventures traveling the world. He did not immediately go back to work, as he was spending some much-needed time with his family. He passed away of a heart attack while hiking in Nepal, only 10 months into retirement.
I am sitting here writing this blog entry from my desk because I cannot focus on anything else at the moment. Here we all are, fearing losing our jobs and our once fearless leader has just died. There has to be more to life than just working a 9-5. Doing the same things over and over, and letting people who do not know you, appreciate you, or respect you, dictate your life. We can get so used to the toxic stress that once we have a taste of freedom, our bodies do not know how to handle a life without it.
I told this to my boss, shortly after she broke the news. I told her that this is a reminder that life is too short to be wasting your years away not doing what you love and being undervalued. I keep getting asked “What do you?” I know I want to be happy, to have the freedom and flexibility to be creative, to be in charge of my own decisions, I want to be encouraged to take vacations, and not stuck in a routine rut. I want to love what I do and I want to help others. What I do not know is how to get there. Is it even possible? How do I find it? How do I tell people what I want when those things seem abstract? What does that really look like?
It is not that “what”, it is the “how” that stumps me. How do I get what I want?