Friday, December 27, 2013

Apples to Apples

My commute is not okay and I need to move. I know that. But beyond the commute issue, I was thinking about the issues I have with the new job itself - how I don't feel special or warm and fuzzy like I did at my old job, how if I would have been really upset if I had had to suddenly leave my old job without saying goodbye, but I could walk out of this job without feeling much of anything. And I've realized that I'm not being fair here because I'm not comparing apples to apples. I'm comparing the first couple weeks of this job to the last couple weeks of my old job.  That warm and fuzzy feeling, that sense of belonging that I had at my old job was very, very recent.  Basically, I was just starting to feel settled in and connected and special at my old job when I got this new job offer.

When I first started at my old job in August, I was very, very stressed out. I did what I was told to do but I really didn't understand what was going on. I didn't know where to eat lunch so I ate in my car for the first week or so, which was stressful because you needed a key card to get back into the building (which I didn't have) so I was counting on the fact that my coworker whose desk is near the door would be there to let me in. I was so scared I'd be late because I couldn't get into the building. And that time I put thirty-eight dollars on the envelope with our stamping machine and my boss thought it couldn't be reversed, I was really, really upset that I had screwed up. It took that experience for me to realize that it wasn't the end of the world, that I wouldn't get fired for making a mistake.  And I was really stressed out another time when I couldn't reconcile something that I had always been able to reconcile on my own - it was just after I started cross-training for my coworker's job, and I really wanted to prove that I could handle everything.

Basically, that feeling that I'm missing at my old job - the feeling of security, knowing that other people trust me, knowing that I won't get in trouble for not being able to get in the door...I never felt that at my old company until the very end. I'm pretty sure they trusted me early on, but I didn't feel secure about it until the end. I started my old job on August 14th. On September 18th, we went out to lunch together and I felt extremely awkward. I was honestly hoping the lunch would be canceled. I remember how much courage it took for me to ask my supervisor how her dog was doing. She had mentioned that her dog wasn't doing well and I wanted her to know I cared but I had never initiated a conversation with her about something other than work before.  The first breakthrough I really felt with everyone was around the end of October, when my supervisor was all excited about Halloween and when I helped out my coworker during a difficult time. And all the other milestones - fixing their Excel problem and getting to take over my coworker's job - happened in November. Training for my coworker's job was what really made me feel attached and special. I felt special because I was getting promoted and they believed that I could do two jobs at once. I felt closer to everyone knowing that I was staying.

When I think about how I feel right now at my current job (aside from the commute), it's very similar to how I felt in the first month of my old job. I just didn't consider it a problem at my old job because I was a temp. That job was never supposed to become permanent, so I was basically staying there until I found a permanent job somewhere else. For the first two months, I would have been fine walking away from that job without ever saying goodbye, and I didn't see that as a problem because I was a temp. I never expected to get as close to anyone as I eventually did.

All of these things are a problem now because this is a permanent job. I mean it's temp-to-hire, but it seems like they plan to hire me. They're treating me like a real employee - I'm on email lists and go to department meetings. I'm not on the outside like I was at my old company. And I guess I still miss my old company. When I started at my old company, I had nothing to compare it to, but now I've left a job where I felt warm and fuzzy and special for a job where I don't. But when I take a step back and look at the corporate culture and how other people seem to like my current company, I think it's actually employee-friendly. I think the company itself is warm and fuzzy on the inside. The problem might just be that I'm forgetting how hard it was to start at my old company. If I actually look at the calendar, I'm in my fourth week of my new job. I understand way more about what's going on than I did in my fourth week at my old company. Even in the first few days of this job, I felt so much more competent than I did in the first few days of my old job. I didn't feel so overwhelmed - I knew that I'd be able to do everything once I learned it. We recently went out to dinner together just before Christmas, and it was nowhere near as awkward as that lunch I went to with my old company. If I compare where I am now to where I was at my old job, I'm ahead. At every step of the way, I'm ahead of where I was before. I've already been 45 minutes late to work because of the traffic and I didn't get fired and it wasn't the end of the world.

I'm not saying that I'm gonna stick this out or anything because I do need to get my new apartment if this is going to work. But I'm going to watch the calendar. I'm going to make sure I'm only comparing my first month to my first month and my second month to my second month, because it isn't fair to compare the beginning to the end.

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