For the past week, I’ve been instructing a training course for budding young CPA’s to learn how to do the job my company pays them to do. I’m molding young minds, influencing behaviors and ways of thinking, offering new perspectives, and hopefully, not completely ruining them in the process. I come home at the end of the day exhausted, too tired to go to the gym, fall asleep earlier than I’m used to, and wake up earlier than I’m used to, exhausted, having to do it all again. Vicious cycle, indeed.
Despite how much it takes out of me dealing with lazy yet eager millennials who make up their own logic and rules, this is one aspect of my job I actually quite enjoy. But boy, does it take a lot out of me. The teaching used to reinvigorate me, and make the year that much more tolerable because the courses broke up my year a bit. It wasn’t just the vicious cycle of audit life. It had a little something sweet in it, when I could share my knowledge, insights, best practices, and lessons learned with those who didn’t have to go through what I did to learn them the hard way. And one day, they will have their own lessons they learned the hard way.
To be fair, I feel I don’t have much extra to give, either. As I look at my posts throughout August, all 4 of them, few and far between, it’s becoming apparent that I’ve lost my motivation, my muse, my inspiration, my desire to speak and write and be heard and understood. I don’t think I’m running out of things to talk about; I just prefer not to express them. Often, I find myself withholding thoughts and comments, not just on this blog, but in real life. What’s the point, anyway? Perhaps I have calcified, growing from recent experiences. Perhaps I’m more Cancer than Leo, out of necessity to protect my soft insides.
I find myself with desperately low levels of hope. If left to its own devices, my mind takes a path down a spiral chute into the futility of it all. I know how to abbreviate the slide down, so it doesn’t go down too deep or get too severe. But I’ve found myself in the darkest of rooms of late, by myself, wondering if anyone notices that I’m gone. If anyone cares. Put it this way – the people that I wish would care, don’t. The people that I think are perceptive enough to notice, don’t. I feel invisible. Unnoticed. But it’s also not like I’m out there waving my arms around frantically trying to be noticed. I’m purposely fading into the background. Not hiding, but certainly not conspicuous.
This does not please me. I’m in the prime of my life. I should be chasing dreams. Perhaps I don’t dare to dream right now, because I don’t see the point. That’s certainly not a good place to be. But this old dog can’t teach herself new tricks. The catch-22 of having to know the answer in order to teach myself the answer becomes glaringly obvious and ever more ridiculous.
It struck me the other day that law and accounting professionals aim to become partners at their respective firms. Teachers and professors elbow for room and compete to get tenure with a university. Even chefs become master chefs. Carpenters become master carpenters. Just about every career has an elite level whereby others judge you to be successful, where you’ve made it. However, in order to make partner or get tenure, you probably had to be an asshole to at least one person. You had to step on one person, or find a way to make your own light shine brighter at the expense of someone else’s flame. It’s sickening to me. Or at least, most of the partners I know did. If I chose that path, I’d probably have to do it, too.
I’d have to warm up to some more senior partners in New York, kiss some ass, shake some hands… and work. Hard. Work late. Every night. Work on weekends. I’d be miserable. But in the end, it would be worth it, right? I guess I just don’t work that way. It’s not worth it to me. If being great at what I do means that others must be below me in the pyramid scheme, then it’s not for me.
Can’t I be great at my craft without the requisite of partnership or tenure or status of any kind? To me, I don’t particularly care what others think, but to be left alone to do what you do in peace without being prodded to try harder or aim higher… that would be ideal. Not according to the professionals. You’re only as good as your last superheroic feat. They might hate the game too, but they play it. I don’t think that game is for me. I don’t hate the players; I hate the game.
That very strong feeling in me, that the game is not for me, leaves me in quite a pickle. It leaves me with the knowledge that my current career won’t get me where I want to be. I got the advice when I was younger to make sure I was on the right ladder before I start climbing. Smart cookie, whoever it was that told me that. But here I am, 11+ years into climbing my ladder, and all of a sudden, it’s the wrong one. I don’t see the point in climbing anymore. And I don’t think there is a place for me at the top of that ladder, just because of who I am and how I think.
I let my mind wander, to explore whether any other careers might be good for me, and I draw blanks. I don’t necessarily want the level of success at work attributed to the titles or status.
I don’t necessarily want to be travelling right now, either. I don’t think that is my ladder right this moment, though it definitely is important to me. I’m quite enjoying staying put, minimizing my expenses, and nesting for a bit. Actually living in the apartment I pay and insane amount of rent for, instead of travelling and still having to pay the rent. Part of me is restless, but not as much as it was before my sabbatical in May and June. Being restless implies there is something you are looking forward to, even if you may not know what it is, and you are anxious for that to happen or come to pass.
Right now, I don’t have anything that I’m looking forward to. Sure, there are things I feel are missing from my life. A partner. Pets. A better job. A bigger place to live where I can breathe a little more easily and have less of the city bustle and buzz around me. As I type this, some genius is jackhammering before 8am on a Saturday. Rude. I was already up. But it’s still fucking rude.
I’ve been working on what I can and trying to accept the things I cannot change. Easier said than done.
And that’s the thing: no one wants to read the blog of someone who is just meh. Who doesn’t feel great about themselves or where they are in life. People want inspiring. Positive. Optimistic. Hopeful. A happy ending. Not every moment in our lives can be that high, though. Does anyone really want to read about the downs, though?
What if there is no happy ending? After seeing the catacombs beneath Paris, and the concentration camp outside Berlin, so many people have lived and died on this earth. Only a handful are known by generations today. Most have returned as ash to the earth, unnamed, unmarked, unremembered.
I’ve thought about the footprint I’m leaving lately, or rather, the lack thereof. I don’t spend a lot of my money. Most of it is spent on rent – I hardly go out to eat for dinner anymore, with the exception of taking some friends in town visiting from Sydney out to dinners in my lovely city lately. I don’t need many clothes or material possessions. I find myself declining gifts, even those as simple as flowers from a friend as a kind gesture on my birthday, because I don’t need them. I’m afraid no one can give me what I need as a gift, though it is a kind gesture nonetheless.
Food doesn’t taste good anymore, so why treat myself to a pizza or fancy sit-down dinner for one?
My friends visiting from Sydney left yesterday, but one of them said something to me last night as she sat at her gate at SFO, delayed and irritated. “Love u gorgeous. Stop hiding the world needs you xoxo”
How did she know? I shared some, but not all, of my thoughts above with them (mostly the part about becoming partner or getting tenure) the other night, but how did she know the right thing to say to me?
This world needs me? It feels as if it conspires against me despite my efforts. Maybe it doesn’t feel like it wants me right now, and it doesn’t seem to like me right now. But it needs me? Something is keeping me here. I’m not done yet. What it needs me for, I’m still not sure of yet. I’m exactly where I need to be, but it still doesn’t feel right.
So come on world. Throw me a friggin bone. OK?