Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A chain of unexpected events ....

I had a meeting with my manager yesterday. That wasn't unexpected. What happened in it was.

I am not much different than a lot of people. I experience a certain level of anxiety before returning to work after being away. I've often wondered if the going back to work part of a vacation is even worth going on the vacation.

I was surprised to learn that this time the transition was a little different.

It was different because it wasn't so much the diving back into who knows what that bothered me but the entire idea of going back to a job that hasn't satisfied me much at all lately. And considering my passionate stand on living life true to yourself, your call in life and being at peace with both of these things this didn't bode well with my spirit.

I was beginning (before I even left for Thailand) to feel like I was lying both to myself and those around me about living honestly.

Why so challenging all of a sudden? Well perhaps mostly because of my pride. Because who wants to admit, after going to college for the first time at 28 yrs of age they don't LOVE what they do? Who wants to admit they ultimately forced the selling of their home so they could 'scratch the itch' of wanting to learn academically, and then later learn they don't like the outcome all that much?

I don't.

I don't really want to tell people 'Yeah, so, after all that I hate my job'. Of course part of the reason I don't want to say that is because it's not entirely true.

There are many of parts of my job that I love. I love the people I get to meet and know. I love the stories I hear. The 'this would only happen in this job' experiences. Mostly though I think I love fighting for the 'underdog'. Advocating for those who don't have a voice (figuratively and literally speaking), evening if you are fighting someone that's supposed to be on the same team as you.

As I spoke to people openly after Thailand about returning to work,I fully disclosed that if I was free to, I'd absolutely be home right now packing up my life and heading back on a plane to where I was. To settle in and finally give life to an undiscovered dream that I always wondered about.

Quitting my job wouldn't ever be a question in that case.

However, as I shared with people the unfulfillment in my work, I always threw in the disclaimer that said 'But, there's this one shift that gives me life, a spark of fulfillment and excitement. It's that shift that keeps me going and gives me a reason not to throw the baby out with the bath water.'

So yesterday when I went into meet with my manager I had several thoughts swirling about in my mind...

'I'd love to just say - I quit. I'd love to just through in the towel. I'm bored, tired and unstimulated. This isn't for me - good bye.'

Then there was the grounded thought wave ...

'Everything's fine, it's going well, I'm happy with everything. See you in 8 weeks.'

After discussing briefly with Wally the idea of me giving up the only weekend shift I had (one I actually enjoyed but was an all day Sunday shift) I told him that I'd give work another whirl and not think about changing anything until my next meeting in a couple months. I didn't want to be rash and emotional about it.

Wally had left around 7:15am and somewhere between then and 8 am when I left for my first shift before my impending meeting I decided that I was going into that meeting and getting rid of my weekend shift, because I knew that would just simply make me happy.

I realized as I thought about it and got excited that I needed to this before I really started to resent my work. I wouldn't ask for a thing in return, I would just lose the hours.

I was admittedly shocked at my decision. This wasn't like me. It would greatly alter my pay cheque and I had yet to secure another shift, job or possibility. I was simply putting what I knew was right for me (and Wally I think) ahead of any of it.

Also shocking was that I didn't discuss this with Wally ahead. We always talk about stuff like this, big or small first to make sure we're on the same page. I was going on a hunch that this wasn't just me being selfish but that I was being led to make this decision.

When the time came I entered my manager's office. It was 10:30am, I had already had a couple of great chats with co workers before the meeting and felt good about my decision. That is until I got some news ...

First order of business. I was notified that the shift that fulfilled my aspirations and gave me an element of 'you're good at what you do', the only one really that I felt absolutely great in every way about (probably because I had to advocate my ass off for the person and got to ruffle a feather or two and I love that!!), was being taken away and given to a full time staff that needed the hours due to the passing of another person supported.

There are two things I must mention here: the shift was technically 'temporary' as I was filling it for someone who was in a temporary position that had just gone permanent therefore putting the hours 'up for sale'. And of course a full time person trumps a part time person in their 1 year waiting period (by a mile).

It didn't matter that the fit may not be right (even the person taking the shift asked for something else and apologized to me - even though they absolutely had nothing to apologize for).

I knew all along that the shift wasn't mine, however I was told the chances were high that I would get it as I'd been doing it for a 9 months, learned everything about the person, developed a good re pore, and was one of two of the main go-to people for all of her needs. I did all of her budgeting, many appointments, communication with her day program, and very hard advocating for this person to go on an agency cruise she'd signed herself up for - that really she could barely afford to go on.

I was stunned. In fact I'm sure there's an imprint from the 2 x 4 on my face that I got hit by.

I breathed my way through not crying and as I was being told it was followed up with 'You're a great member of the team (that's like telling someone 'you are a great breather') .... oh, and you'll be training the new staff starting next week.'

I knew that it would be perceived that I was upset about the loss of hours. Seeing as what I would say next, I hoped it was understood that wasn't the case.

I was already nervous about giving up my Sunday shift but this added to the emotion. I hadn't calculated where my hours would be. However at this point I didn't care, I would worry about that later (if at all).

Still reeling from the news I announce my desire for weekends off to be free to be with my husband and for friends and family. I make it clear I want nothing in return.

It was meant with no resistance. Just a few notes jotted down.

Calculations were made to see that I went from 39 hrs one week, 29 hrs the other (a perfect 34 hr schedule average), to 24 hrs and 25 hrs (plus still 2 hrs temporary on top).

Wow. I couldn't believe it. I went from giving up 8 hrs per pay to losing 15 hrs in a matter of a half hour. This wasn't in the plan.

I left the meeting in shock. In shock over my decision to get my weekends back, in shock over what I felt was an injustice done to not only myself and all of the heart I poured into the person I supported's life, but also the injustice done to them. Their other main worker is going on mat leave in a few months thus leaving her with no more advocates (well I'm assuming the future a bit).

I can honestly say I don't give a rip about the hours which at this point will calculate into a much smaller pay cheque, but a bitterness is developing surrounding the agency I am at.

Now as I say this I am well aware I need to nip it in the bud. I am well aware that all agencies are similar in their approach to how the operation works. I am well aware that numbers trump people more often than anyone wants.

That doesn't change the grief I feel over it one bit.

One of my co worker friends who I greatly respect told me Sunday night how much I needed to quit because I was so depressed/disappointed with my work. Or, she suggested go down to 25 hrs a week ...

After I thought on it a bit I decided that perhaps what was happening was all happening to free me up. To let the best things come. To encourage me to stop having to control every twist and turn of my life.

Part of the reason I held onto the Sunday shift was because I was thinking ahead to after we have kids and what would work best. Really I was worrying and solving problems that didn't even exist yet. In doing so I was creating unnecessary problems and great unhappiness for myself now.

That's crazy!!

I now have a much greater sense of freedom to experiment and explore what might be around the corner for me next.

I have known since last June this is what I should be doing but could never bring myself to do it. Well, here I am. Unplanned and unexpected but very present are infinite possibilities...

For the first time ever I am going to consciously try to NOT achieve anything except letting the good stuff find me.

Hopefully it will be exciting to see what opens up ...