Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Best Present of All - Your Gift to Yourself

Have you ever gotten a present that you really didn’t want?

I’m not talking about the flu or herpes or anything like that. I’m talking about receiving something the gift-giver actually thought you’d really like and put a lot of thought into, but regardless it’s just not you.

I know I’ve been the gift giver in this situation before. I seem to be this person to J, my boyfriend, every time I have to buy a present for him. Two Christmases ago I got him a bunch of clothes. He was really unhappy, and some of them are actually still sitting in a bag next to our front door because he planned on returning them. The following year, last year, I decided to do a 180 and get him gifts that were along the lines of what he would get me: electronics. Of his gifts, I got him satellite radio, the receiver, and everything he needed to hook it up in his car PLUS a receiver that hooked into our surround sound, so he could listen to it at home. His response? He was disappointed, because he thought I was getting him a Wii. I had no idea he wanted a Wii. He hated the satellite radio, and “cancelled” it after the first 6 months that I had prepaid for. I put “cancelled” in quotations here, because he actually didn’t cancel it – he just never paid the bill, and my credit card has been charged ever since, even though no one in our house is listening to it.

I’m rarely the person who gets something she doesn’t want, but recently I did.

The day before I left for RollerCon, I got called into a meeting with my boss and the HR manager, and I was offered a new job within my company. I’ve got to say that the act of being offered a new job is great, but the job itself was not something I wanted.

Since I’ve gotten back and sent my “thanks, but no thanks” e-mail, I’ve been in a lot more closed-door meetings. I got asked the question, “If you could have any job that currently exists in the company right now, what would it be?” I know I answered “wrong” for a working professional, but I told them that I didn’t think any other job in our company would make me happier than the one I was currently in now. This, from the girl who at her last review put up a stink because she had no job path – nowhere to go from here.

What’s changed in the past 9 months? I don’t know. Okay, I do know, but I’m almost afraid to say it.

Being offered this job forced me to start thinking about what I do want out of my life as a working professional. There’s things I’ve thought of doing and things I’ve thought might happen, but I’ve remained in the job I’m currently in for the past 4 years. Luckily, my current job is so low stress that I don’t mind working on derby sponsorship during lunch breaks and once I come home from work. So what if I’m not completely satisfied by my “real” job?

I’m satisfied by my derby sponsorship work. And I actually told my “real” job that when I turned down the offer. It’s kind of like telling your boyfriend that you don’t want to marry him, because you’re not completely satisfied with you relationship, but no worries, because you’ve found a “friend with benefits” and you’re not going anywhere because you’re comfortable living with your boyfriend and have found a way to make it work for you. How wrong is that? It may be something you do, but you certainly don’t tell anyone. Oops.

Thing is, I’m an honest person, and for some reason I’ve transferred this into my work life, something many people will tell you never to do. In some aspects, business is all about working people and playing your cards, bluffing when you have to. I’m over it. I just don’t care to play that game anymore. Over the past 3 to 4 years I’ve learned some valuable lessons about business and interacting with others, and it’s all due to my involvement in derby. I suppose having to figure out how to work with 60 other women you just met brings you up to speed real fast. And what I have learned that I value most of all is to cut the bullshit, cut the conniving, cut the angles, cut the bias, and most importantly cut the personal yearning for power. None of these tactics work. Sure, they may work in some instances, but when they don’t, they really fuck everything up. I’ve learned to be honest in business, something that’s as rare as steak being cooked at an Outback during a rolling blackout. And honesty – doing the right thing – has opened more doors than angles, bias, conniving, and bullshit all put together.

So, was it right for me to be so honest at my “real” job? It certainly has thrown some people for a loop, but in the end they can’t really be mad, because I’m just being honest – not malicious or conniving.

I want professional growth, and I may or may not find it where I currently am. It was nice to be offered a new job, and I could have taken it and enriched my career in a way I am not currently doing, but I think I learned more by listening to what I truly want and having the courage to say no. Sometimes saying no can open more doors than saying yes. You just may have to wait a little longer, and I’m okay with that.

1 comment:

Sandi said...

I wish I'd had your patience. 18 months ago, right after my review in which I told them I saw no growth opportunity in my current position, I took that new position they offered. And to be honest, It's OK but I'm not entirely happy about my decision. The grass always looks greener as they say, sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. I think the trick is to not make a rash decision, and it sounds like you gave it some serious thought and it just wasn't for you. I don't think anyone can fault you for being honest (except for the true reasons for not marrying the boyfriend bit, sometimes you gotta let em down easy :) In fact, I totally respect your putting it all out there and unwillingness to deal with bullshit. Being a derby girl is a lot more than being physically strong; it also takes a strong person.