I Am Not the Worker I Was 10 Years Ago
Before the Recession
I remember the glory days of office work. Fun terms like "climbing the corporate ladder" was something we were all told to embrace; and embrace it I did! I worked a lot and cared about the work I did. I was happy to organize after-work activities, network with others, and bend over backwards to make sure the job got done. What did I get for all that work? Not much.
The quality of my life did not get better. My job did not really get better. I was not happier or wealthier. Instead, I was asked to give more and more, but with little or no appreciation. None of that seemed too bad though at the time; just keep pushing ahead and it will pay off.
I will say it was a nice time to work since you could actually do the job of one person. Bosses were pretty content with having a number of employees to make sure the job got done. Multi-tasking was a popular term, but boy, I did not even realize what multi-tasking was back then!
This Is Me Now
Lately I have been making a lot of poor career choices. Funny thing is, I really don't care that much. I am comfortable in my decision to no longer be the worker I once was. When I look back at the worker I was 20 years ago, I can safely say I became a better worker over the years because I had a lot of learning to do. I worked to improve for many years.
Over time, education and experience made me a better worker. The worker I was 10 years ago was a good worker. A worker with a college degree and a desire to achieve. I was at my peak. It felt like I could do no wrong and I could pretty much have any job I wanted.
Since then, I have let a lot of that go. Now I am a mediocre worker. I've felt myself slipping for a few years now, and damn it, I am fine with it. I've become disillusioned by the system I once embraced.
I know what you are thinking, "What a terrible worker!" Nah, I am really not that bad. I show up and do the job. I willingly agree to take on some extra projects from time to time. I still know how to play the game. I care about deadlines... but I don't care too much anymore. Let me explain my reasons.
The recession hit and everything changed for all of us. Multi-tasking no longer meant you were taking a phone call while running a report. Post-recession multi-tasking means you take a phone call while running a report, while typing a document, and checking the company's credit card online to figure out a mystery expense. Multi-tasking now means you alone are doing the work that was once handled by 3 people, because the company can no longer afford to employ that many people. You are supposedly the "lucky" one because you still have a job.
This, my friend, is exactly why I can't be the same worker I was 10 years ago. I saw a lot of good people get laid off. The people that got laid off were typically from departments the company thought they could dispose of... only to figure out a few months later they needed them. Instead of replacements, work got outsourced to people that have no understanding of your company. If not outsourced, the work was often handed to the "lucky" workers left behind... workers that never wanted or understood those jobs in the first place, but were told if they wanted to keep their jobs, they'd take those extra tasks and smile like they were happy about it. I honestly don't blame companies for being forced to cut corners just to stay afloat. However, there has to be some understanding that employees won't necessarily feel a real enthusiasm for this type of reality either.
I am tired. In all honesty, I am just tired in general. Maybe it is because I've been sick for weeks but can't afford the high deductibles or co-pays I deal with now because insurance companies are lacking in a major way now, too. Health insurance used to mean you were covered. Every now and then, you had to pay out of pocket, but not like how it is now. Workers with health insurance have to fork out so much of their own money now, it almost doesn't seem worth it. So yeah, I am tired. Perhaps a little bitter, too. But maybe that is just the Gen X part of me talking.
So you may not realize this, but there is this whole other world out there that has nothing to do with work. I find in the U.S. we tend to care too much about "careers" and other crap that is not important. The first thing we ask each other is, "What do you do?" From now on, my answer is going to be something like, "I write, make soy candles, sing when I think no one is listening, look longingly at every adorable little animal in pet stores, and enjoy eating cupcakes." A career? I don't focus on that anymore. I have things that make me happy... a fiancé and a dog and a rather fine collection of My Little Ponies. I have an ill father and an overwhelmed mother and many concerns that have nothing to do with some silly deadline at work.
So when I get a call at work about an "emergency," I want to say, "Is your house on fire? Is there a gunman in your house?" Those are real emergencies... not the email blast that had a typo in it. So if you have an emergency, you'd better make sure it is actually a real emergency or you are getting zero sympathy from me. Furthermore, you'd better try calling 911 for the cops or firefighters, not me. Those are the real workers we can't live without.
I sometimes feel guilty that I am not the worker I used to be. I've worked for a variety of people recently; some deserve a better worker than me. If only they'd seen me back in the day, they would realize how much they are being ripped off now! But in general, I am still an alright employee that gets by. I am by far never the worst employee, which makes it OK somehow. I now simply work to live, not live to work.
I enjoy writing. I like my freelance work. As far as my job, it exhausts me. I can no longer give it my best. Does that make me a good worker? No, probably not. However, I am more interested in being a good person, a good daughter, a good best friend, a good fiancé, and soon, a good wife. My jobs in the past have allowed me to slack off in all other areas of my life. I won't be a slacker in my life anymore. For that reason, I am not the worker I was 10 years ago.
Copyright ©2015 Jeannieinabottle
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