Great Expectations

This is not the way it was supposed to happen.

Today’s blog post – as I started mapping it out weeks ago in my mind – was designed to be unabashedly celebratory. This was going to be the ultimate All About Me™ post, a new high point in the self-adulatory Golden Boy Chronicles. This was supposed to be the post in which I triumphantly crowed, bragged, and boasted to the rooftops of the blogosphere that I’d ARRIVED – or returned, depending on how you look at it – to that charmed place under the sun in which I so rightfully belong, and that all was once again right and good and exactly how it was supposed to be.

I was supposed to tell you that I’d accepted a new job. More than that, one that would make up for the dreariness and drudgery of one that I’ve come to resent for failing to keep me inspired and happy. This new job, I was supposed to announce, was shiny and wonderful, filled with wonderful, dynamic supervisors, and would provide an atmosphere where I could positively flourish. Because of this job, I would do wonderful, fucking fantastic things.

This is what I was supposed to be telling you today.

But you know what? I’m not.

As occasionally happens in life, things didn’t go quite the way I hoped they would. After weeks of interviews and a cautious escalation of hope, I got the final call late last week (on a Friday afternoon, no less. As an aside, who does that??). Apparently, my obvious brilliance was not quite as brilliant as someone else’s.

And just like that, it was all over.

Naturally, I was a little bit upset. (Did I mention that this was at 4:30pm on a FRIDAY afternoon???) There may or may not have been a few minutes of abject pouting (okay, I swore viciously under my breath and almost had to buy the university a new computer), followed by a short period of quiet mourning (in which I may or may not have packed up my entire office in a grown-up version of ‘fuck you, I’m taking my marbles and going home!’). After glimpsing the rosy utopian future promised by the new position, the prospect of returning, beaten, to the day-in day-out existence at my current office seemed too bleak to contemplate.

But…now that I’ve had a solid week away from the office and on the road, my thoughts have settled and tempered somewhat, and…I’m okay with this.

Not that I don’t cringe, shudder, and die a little bit at the thought of trudging back into my same old cubicle – now with carefully blank, sterile walls – come tomorrow morning, because to be completely honest, I do. I can still enumerate the things that fucking irritate me beyond all belief about this place from rote memory. But at the same time, I think I cringe, shudder, and die a little less than I did several weeks or months ago.

See, I’ve been thinking this over. A couple weeks ago, the great Steve Jobs departed for that great iCloud in the sky, and the world all of a sudden went mad. In the midst of the mass gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair, and rampant eulogizing, all I could think of was how cool it was that Steve worked to the very end because he loved what he had created, and how lucky any of us should be to find something we’re that passionate about in our professional lives. I mean, he found something he was both brilliant at and loved doing, and he found ways to make sure he never stopped doing them. There might have been a few bumps and obstacles along the way, but he didn’t let them sidetrack him. And right down to the very end, if you believe the reports that’ve recently come to light, he was still hard at work making sure his final products would come out just so.

Not that he needed to, mind you: he had a gazillion dollars, was dying of cancer, and could have simply just said ‘fuck it’ and plopped himself down in front of HGTV for his final days. Or, when he was pushed out of Apple the first time around, he could have sat moping in a cubicle, getting bitter and resentful.

But because he was passionate about what he did, he kept right on going, circumstances be damned.

And that? That’s what it’s all about, in the end. At the end of the day, I should be excited. I should feel like I’ve accomplished something. I should be passionate enough about something to want to do it because it’s gratifying, not because I need the money. I should inadvertently work late most days because I’m caught up in a project I want to finish. I should want to voluntarily come in on weekends and holidays, not sprint out of the office with a sense of relief that another workday is crossed off on the calendar.

If this is where I’m spending forty hour and another ten-plus hours a week in transit to and from, and is eating up time I could be writing or spending with Boyfriend, then it better be worth it. It better not just be marking time.

And maybe I’ve had it exactly backward all this time: maybe it was a mistake to believe it was my job’s responsibility to provide that. Maybe it’s MY job to make sure I’m making the most of every precious moment and getting what I need out of all this. I desperately wanted out because I felt like my job has been utterly failing me: there’s no validation for work well done, there’s no challenge, there’s no motivation to do better.

Well, maybe I’ve just been completely spoiled in the past and have come to expect entirely too much of my supervisors, administrators, and general workplace (Hi Savona, hi Scott, hi Kirsten!). Maybe I’ve depended too much on the thrill and personal gratification and job satisfaction to come from sources external to myself. And maybe, just maybe, in order to regain those cherished elements of my work, I need a little paradigm shift. If I’m not happy where I am? Maybe I need to find something in it to be passionate about.

So thanks to a little posthumous inspiration from My. Jobs, that’s my goal, now. I can sit around spinning in circles in my desk chair, sighing in frustration over the myriad little fucking irritations and disappointments of what I once thought would be the Greatest Job Ever…or I can make it the Best Job Ever. At least until the Next Greatest Job Ever comes along…

So…come tomorrow morning, bright and early (well, not too early, because I’m still wickedly jet-lagged from this latest trip), I’m going to find the things that excite me and thrill me about my current job if it kills me. I’m going to find the challenge. And I’m going to find the gratification; if the job doesn’t provide it, I’ll fucking gratify myself. And I’ll keep on doing it, giving 150% of myself – and not for anyone else, but for myself.

Eventually, another position will come up that sparks my interest and whets my appetite. I’ll go through this whole process again, and one of these times, the job is gonna fucking be mine, and I can walk away knowing that I haven’t been wasting my time here. Because there’s one more enduring lesson we can all learn from Steve Jobs: that some of us are just too fucking fabulous to be kept down in the muck.

Now…if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get to gratifying myself.

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