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I’m Fine, Perfectly Fine

November 15, 2014

Last November, I managed only one entry here. I hope to do better this year, but we shall see.

My employer held a charity garage sale a few weeks back, the idea being we would donate our unwanted stuff and then turn around and buy our coworkers’ unwanted stuff and all the proceeds would go to our focus charity for the year. In going through some drawers in the guest bedroom looking for things to put in the sale, I came across a sextet of Mary Engelbreit magnets I’d forgotten about.

Magnets from a younger me

Looking at these, I remember buying them at a shop in Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, which I frequented back at the tail end of my stint in public accounting. I see the stress I felt then in reflected in this collection I assembled. I was struggling in a demanding job that wasn’t a good fit for me—I pretended to be “fine, perfectly fine, really” but was not. I read the sentiments on these magnets that look so sweet and pretty as brittle, hostile, and passive aggressive by turns. That’s how I felt back then.

I didn’t know that it’d take me a full decade and three jobs after I left public accounting to find a job that did fit, that didn’t make me feel like my life force was being drained every day I went to the office. Purple Systems is demanding, no doubt, but there’s always been a rationality behind the demands that was lacking at other places I’ve worked. I might be working Saturdays sometimes, but I understand why and the reasons make sense to me.

As Purple Systems has grown, I’m losing that feeling. I don’t know all the decision makers like I did when we were smaller; I don’t have a much of a voice as I used to. There are more buzzwords in the air, like “focal reviews”, and PowerPoints abound. We have formal salary bands, though I am not privy to the details even though I am a team lead and have people reporting to me whose reviews and raises I am responsible for. It’s feeling more and more corporate all the time, and I don’t like it. This past week in particular was a roller coaster of frustration as I prepared annual reviews for three of my guys, with shifting deadlines and lack of information and much confusion about the process, but in the end I sat down with my boss and his boss and we worked things out in a way that I’m happy with. I think. I will not entirely relax until I hear back from HR next week.

I know change is inevitable, that Purple Systems couldn’t stay small forever, and I’m trying to be a good sport about it but not always succeeding. I wonder if I can find a way to fit into the new Purple Systems as well as I did in the old. That’s why instead of putting these magnets in the garage sale, I put them up in my office; they’ve started to resonate with me again. Perhaps I should not encourage that sort of thing. Perhaps I should focus on the positives, like the core of people I know and trust and work with every day.

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