Some context: First and foremost, I love to work. There are those who work to live, and those who live to work. I’m among the latter.
Several years ago, upon starting a new job, I knew on Day One that I didn’t fit in with the company’s culture or its people. By Day Two, I discovered that I had arrived in the Land of Mediocrity. From Day Three onward, I spent too much mental and emotional energy trying to remain positive — lead by example, right? Be fired with enthusiasm! You betcha! Be the change you wish to see in the world! Absolutely! The only thing I have the power to change is my perspective about a situation. Agreed! My enthusiasm and passion will be contagious, won’t it? Insert eye roll here.
With the conviction of a high priest, the passion of an evangelist, and the determination of a linebacker, I believed that I could and would be successful in this role. I believed I could leave this proverbial campsite better than I found it. And I worked incessantly to do exactly that. For more than four years!
Despite leading several successful initiatives and earning glowing performance reviews (for nine consecutive review periods!), I grew weary from what was quickly becoming a charade of success and positivity. That mediocrity I met at the outset had become an immovable object. The change I so fiercely fought to cultivate was barely measurable by any honest or ethical metric. A group of (mediocre) colleagues had conspired to bully me and disparage my work and reputation by falsifying documents and “reinterpreting” facts (I guess this is a legit defense — who knew?)
Going to work was more like walking onto the set of a psycho thriller — starring yours truly as the victim (and I do not play the victim role. Ever!). This awesomeness finally culminated one mid- summer’s day in a meeting with HR whereupon I was informed that a formal complaint had been filed against me. The nature of the complaints included such nonsense as my vocabulary (too large), my tone of voice (too formal and direct), and my manner of dress (too professional and unapproachable). I was devastated. And heartbroken. And miserable. And exhausted.
As I drove home that mid-summer’s evening, I could feel the stress and angst and fear and outrage in every cell of my body. Even my hair hurt! I could barely breathe — I was seriously panting like my dog after a long, summer run. I felt as if my body and my brain were going to burst into flames — and frankly, hoping for the same! I was choking back tears, and the closer I got to home, the harder I choked. Given how hard I gripped the steering wheel, it’s surprising I didn’t rip it directly out of the dashboard. And, of course, at any speed, traffic on the expressway wasn’t moving nearly fast enough. I just wanted to get home and burst into tears. And then into flames.
About a mile from home, on the verge of a complete mental and emotional breakdown, a fuzzy, purple, clown-nosed monster strapped to a motorcycle pulled up right next to me. Now maybe it was my heightened emotional state, but I swear he was heaven-sent to bring comic relief and to let me know that I would indeed be okay. He certainly distracted me from dramatic meltdown and helped me breathe a bit easier, although admittedly, I was now laughing so hard I could barely breathe!
Soon after this dramatic scene, I parted ways with that company. Indeed all is well that ends. This photo now hangs in my office as a gentle reminder that there is always comic relief just around the bend. It’s up to me to keep going until I find it.
#hawaiivibeo #vibeon #comicrelief
Photo caption: Photo courtesy of the author.
By Maggie (last name withheld)
Chicago, IL HEADER PHOTO CREDIT: Pexels