I recently read an article that I could relate to all too much. As a woman in my mid-thirties, I have begun to wonder what I am doing with my career. Is it going anywhere? Am I going anywhere in my career? In a time where unemployment seems just around the corner, should I be happy simply because I have a job? When I started out on this journey, I was keen. I had a lot to learn, but I knew that I could make a difference. Not only in my field, but for the people that I represent. Six years later, extremely good at my job, I wonder if I’ve actually made an impact. And what that even means.
According to a 2015 study of female millennials by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, women’s awakening to workplace sexism is a slow, inexorable evolution. As we age, we become increasingly dissatisfied so that by the time we are 30 or even 34 (ahem) we become disenchanted. Specifically, we notice things about our workplace Like our employers aren’t encouraging diverse enough hiring. Or there aren’t any female role models. Millennial men, however, feel more supported and contented in their jobs. Which is interesting because young women are likelier to put their jobs first – over family.
If you’ve seen the TV show Insecure, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And if you’re a woman in your 30s, you can likely relate. One of the main characters, Molly, is constantly getting slapped in the face when she realizes that her accomplishments don’t matter. Especially when she’s up against her white, male counterparts. In the show, Molly gets an award for her achievements, whereas her counterparts receive a raise. No wonder we lose motivation when it comes to our careers.
I love that I am able to help people for a living. What I don’t love is the politics around it. I recently spoke to a colleague of mine who kind of put some things into perspective for me. He said that my job isn’t about helping people. Even though, that’s what the end result is. He suggested that my job was more about change management than anything else. More specifically changing culture within my organization in order to promote a “better” future. That’s not what I went to school for. That’s not even what I’m interested in. So why has that suddenly become my job? And is there anything I can do about it?
I have recently changed my perspective on life. This might sound dramatic, but it’s been a long time coming. I often compare myself to other people and dwell on what I don’t have. Which isn’t a way to cultivate happiness within my life. I have spent many hours, days and even weeks pouring over the fact that someone else has something that I don’t. What I’m getting at is that all of this requires a shift in perspective. We need to appreciate our circumstances, even if they aren’t perfect. The hard part is learning that those things that we think we “need”, might not be what we need at all. And we need to accept that fact and figure out a way to be grateful.
I know, I know. Easier said than done. Like I said, I have recently come to this perspective. I didn’t say it was easy to arrive at. Nor did I say that there won’t be times when you don’t have any energy to put into your job. But that doesn’t mean you should let what happens affect the rest of your life. Or even deter you from doing good work. I work in an “old boys club”, which can make it even harder to feel motivated as a woman. But keep your chin up, and try to focus on the positive.