I understand, to a point, why people who have been in this industry for years (and have stayed at the same institution) do not want to embrace change. They throw on the emergency break whenever someone has an idea, and the usual comeback is “it’s never been done that way”. They are afraid. Of what? Change? Feeling as if their knowledge is obsolete? We younger, progressive ones are threats to them, and I have been told, numerous times, that I was not the first choice when ensconced in a new position because my ideas were too “radical” or forward-thinking. They felt threatened by my enthusiasm, hated the people who they felt were “difficult” that I had wonderful relationships with. They like to micro-manage, as if they feel it is their right, or duty to do so. But no one works well under such circumstances.
My mother is dying of Alzheimer’s. Her mind is brilliant and she is losing it. And yet there are numerous people in our industry, who have been here for years and are, more often than not female, who do not even measure up to the woman my mother is. And yet, they thrive or survive, which to me is completely unfair.
But perhaps what I don’t understand the most are the younger ones – those my age, who have the same level of experience, who vie for power and prestige. I am different from these people. I see myself as someone who helps others, whether they be strangers or those I work with. Perhaps we have approached this field from different avenues – yours is for acclaim from committees, organizations, people you do not see on a daily basis. Mine comes from helping those I do see every day. This is where my heart is. Not in advancing myself through publications or rising through the ranks. My goal, objective, and what my mother taught me, is to teach. To help others learn and to know there is someone they can reach out to, if the need arises.
No matter where I go, as my nomadic life has progressed, I find this in every institution I work for. Perhaps that is why I do not stay long. Toxicity from these forces are too great for my system, and I believe life should be joyful and not an exercise in misery, day after day. I recently came from a place that was cloaked with toxicity – and after 2 years, losing 20 pounds and a myriad of health issues, I finally knew for my own sanity I had to leave. Which is how I ended up here – in a place where I thought was going to be home, where I could breathe for a few years and make a difference. The past 7 months have been anything but peaceful. A supervisor who is brisk and imposing, a job I scramble to stay on top of, and living with a disease that makes me question each move I make on the chessboard. And if it doesn’t feel right, then the paranoia sets in.
This was a rough week for all, I think. Those who are usually joyful, or at least fun, were exhausted, stressed, done with the work week by 5 o’clock on Monday. I spent most of my days in my office, closing my door when the staff made their lunches in the break room, as the odors invade my space. It’s also a way to avoid listening to one of my co-workers eat, as I do not believe he was ever taught to close his mouth when he chews. It’s one of the banes of my existence – hearing people eat.
Everyone who isn’t in this industry thinks it’s the most peaceful job you could have. Little do they know what goes on behind the scenes. It can be vicious and brutal and heartbreaking. When I was in my last place of employment, things had gotten so toxic that I went to HR and outed myself as someone with bipolar (which is considered to be a disability, but I never check that box) who could not work under such conditions. I trusted the person I spoke with, I knew it was in confidence. And yet, her response was “we can’t do anything to help the situation, unless you need different lights or a desk”. What the fuck? I think my jaw dropped to the floor. I had given her pages (as well as the head of HR) on the abuse we were incurring day after day, and still there was nothing they could do to help. It was time to leave.
Though I had tried to be compassionate. I tried, god how I tried, to understand their anger, their need for control, the reason to live with venom in your veins and look at the world as if all it consisted of was those out to get you. Or those you could reign over. I am sure that gave them, and still gives them pleasure. To beat down others, that is what they thrived on. Day after day. But we were made out to be the trouble-makers…
And so I ended up here. 2,000 miles away from all those I love. With a mother whose health is declining by the day, and I can only find a weekend or two to be with her every few months. I have no support system here – a few friends, but I wouldn’t consider them close confidants – not like my best friend. My partner and I struggle with the distance constantly. Life does not go according to the plan you have in your head at 20. It is in constant flux and nothing is certain.
Which is why I want to leave this. I want to write a tell-all book on what really happens to those in situations like mine. Those who live with this disease and can find no respite from the demons that haunt our thoughts. I want to be able to do this for myself as well as others struggling, but I fear that it won’t happen because of all the other responsibilities in my life – work, health insurance, money.
As I was leaving today, a man walked into my office. He is not well liked among the staff, and he wanted to waste time by using up mine. I understand this, or perhaps I am just used to this behavior. Men have always looked at me as a way to pass time, whether it be for an afternoon or for years. After going through the litany of projects on my plate, as well as the issues of my parents health, he seemed somewhat understanding and said he would not bug me for a month or two. I never want to see him again. I know what he wants. He wants adoration. Someone to tell him how amazing he is. Someone to boost his aging ego. I am not you girl. I have done that for too many men in my life, too many people in my life, and I am worn and weary from it. I need someone to tell me what is special about who I am.
© Sorrow & Kindness