The start of 2010 was the beginning of the new decade and the end of the previous one. The previous decade was marred by fears of terrorism, the war of terror, a gilded economic boom, and an erosion of values. There were some triumphs and some disappointments in this year and I can only hope that things will get better in the end.
My 2010 started on a shaky footing after a dismal 2009 with the decline in my career and my relationship. Things were never the same after the end of 2009 with my previous relationship. Nothing I did was able to make it work and nothing I did was ever enough for her and she talked of breaking up. She had the nerve to go back to work after our vacation was ruined from the 2009 blizzard and didn’t seem to care what I did during the days she was working since I couldn’t have roll over vacation days. It was really disappointing to see that she would choose her job that she complains about over me even though I thought she would not actually go back to work during our supposed vacation time together.
Things at work were even worse. My acting manager decided to scapegoat me by giving me a poor evaluation that insinuated that it was my fault that the client switched vendors. Nothing I did seemed to amount to anything at my job either even though I worked weekends, late hours and even on extremely tight schedules to meet the client’s business goals. Most of all, in this evaluation the manager admitted to never discussing my work with the client but decided that I had poor communications and interpersonal skills with them. I also learned that my previous manager had decided to badmouth me to this acting manager before he resigned out of spite when the client dropped us. I really was in doubt if I really was that horrible of an employee and it was made worse when the manager lied about not giving me any sort of raise or cost of living adjustment due to economic difficulties (when in fact they were planning on laying me off).
With these problems, I was near a low point at the start of the year. Things kept going wrong and nothing was working. Phone interviews and online applications for positions went absolutely nowhere. There were times when I was told I would get a second round interview only to have them take it back at the last minute because there was a more experienced person who was willing to work for much less. It also didn’t help that Barack Obama kept saying nice things about the economic and society in general despite living a vastly different reality than his Disney-friendly ravings.
I was angry and felt powerless. My now-ex was still having problems at work and would call me in the middle of office hours asking if I could stay over at her place in the middle of the week. I told her that I couldn’t promise anything and I was having my own problems; but it seemed she only cared about her issues. I wound up not going and forgetting about it when I decided to go to a happy hour with my colleagues to get away from work and a waning relationship. She later called me in anger wondering why I wasn’t there and I finally had enough. I yelled back to her on the phone and was just tired of these complaints that nothing I did is enough. After that she decided that we shouldn’t meet up that weekend and it seemed like she had fun with her friends while I was alone that weekend.
Back at the office, I was still angry and in doubt if I performed poorly for the client. I later asked the client if I did poor work for her that would call for a poor evaluation and they told me that I was generally able to complete projects on time and made sure the product was always to their standards. It was really frustrating to realise that my client was more understanding and supportive than my account team. Under normal circumstances, the client is typically less understanding and more difficult than my account team and supervisors. Around this time, the same manager who gave me a poor evaluation reached out to me to do several ad hoc projects for the same client who decided to switch to another vendor since their current vendor was having difficulties. The nerve that this bastard had to give me false praises despite scapegoating me for his problems and his inability to support the client relationship.
As things at work got worse, I spent less and less time with my then girlfriend. It was at a point where I was uncomfortable talking to her because anything I did or said would just get her upset regardless of the intent. As things kept getting worse, I managed to move most of my belongings out of her apartment and leave. I should have called her to let her know I was moving out but it would have led to more mindless drama which I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with. She wound up breaking up with me on facebook and we ended up fighting on the phone when we were supposed to be working things out. When everything was said and done, she said she was never happy with me and I felt that anything I did was never enough. Her parents would later try to talk her into making an effort to get back together but I just didn’t want to deal with anything.
The relationship had died. Problems at work had played its part in relationship problems and problems in the relationship directly affected my work. After the break up, most of our mutual friends took her side and a few took mine not unlike children taking sides when their parents divorce. In the meantime, I started to prepare for the eventual lay off by cleaning out my desk and spending time with my colleagues as much as possible. My HR had simply told me to look at the company website for positions instead of making any real effort at finding people who needed resources in the office. One of my office VPs told a colleague of mine that I “wasn’t really part of the office” while the GM doesn’t know I exist. Also, the work began to dry up and I spent most of my office hours reading blogs or playing mafia wars on facebook.
I spent my spare time with some friends and those who had free time going out and keeping my mind occupied while my present universe was falling apart. Some family members expressed concern at my present situation while one American cousin gloated at the fact I was no longer working in NYC and had a failed relationship. Then again, this same cousin was the one who invited all his random church buddies to his own father’s funeral and tried to get me drunk to help his friend get information from me.
I was on the way out of the company until my client reached out and provided positive feedback to my then-manager. As a result of this feedback, he decided to help a manager in my office fill a resource need by referring me for an internal interview to join their team. One of my colleagues was expressing support and provided advice while I was still confused about why an internal interview was needed when they had simply done transfers. The internal interview went well and I had a permanent position with no immediate danger of being laid off. The only person who seemed annoyed at all this was my HR because she had to fill extra paperwork to recognise the transfer. I knew that I was being laid off because anyone in our department who did not have their desk moved to the other floor during our office move was let go after the move was complete. It turned out that I was not on the list for the office move until the last minute.
I celebrated my non-layoff and proceeded to learn things in the new account. Most of the work was less demanding than my previous assignment but it was often chaotic since I had to report to two managers with different personalities. The new managers were both patient and knowledgeable and I was glad to learn from them. It was difficult getting back into a normal working routine after spending months loosing interest in the job, becoming unfocused from problems and easily loosing my temper due to pent up anger. Most of these early months in the new team were shaky since I often lost focus when performing routine tasks and lacked any real interest in the work. It was really unfair to my managers and to myself.
As I was settling into my new team, the manager from the previous account, who scapegoated me, reached out to my current manager for my help. I learned from my manager that two of their account team members had quit, which was not surprising since I learned from both that they left because they did not like the “culture of cost cutting”, felt the client was more supportive of their work and had fears of being scapegoated. As a result, the previous manager wanted my help since I was the most knowledgeable of the account and had a working relationship with the client, which was just ironic since he wrote on my evaluation that I was a detriment and had a poor relationship with the client. It was one of the first times I argued with my current manager over this arrangement since I had no interest in going back and I was still angry over the problems he caused me. Despite my concerns, they still went ahead of this and had me train some people from our India office to do the work. My Indian colleagues were impressed and were surprised I was not working on this.
I knew from this episode that no matter what team I was working and what clients, I would still be taken for granted and affected by other problems tied to the company. I once thought I would have a career with this company that involved new experiences and professional growth, but I started to see this as just a job and my colleagues were the only reason I would stay on. These doubts would linger in my mind to the point where they would sometimes affect my focus while I am working.
My life outside of work was rather interesting. I had time to hang out with new friends along with getting in touch with old friends that I had no seen for some time. It was good company finally meeting my penpal from Australia and an old friend who had recently returned from studying abroad and needed good company. During this time, I didn’t pursue any girls for dating or a relationship since I was still recovering from my previous relationship and because the girls that seemed interested were playing games.
My life for most of 2010 involved routine work and hanging out with friends in my spare time. It was a pretty relaxing time until several of my colleagues started leaving the company and when my friends started getting busy with their own commitments. During a night out with a friend, I ran into another friend that I had no seen in almost two years. When we first met we were both volunteers at a political campaign. I was focusing my time writing blog posts supporting my candidate and occasionally expressing concern over political issues while he made well-edited videos highlighting events from our local campaign office.
Since the campaign ended, we went our separate ways; I wound up working in NYC while he received an offer to work in DC as a result of the work he did in the campaign. A few years later we run into each other by accident at a local lounge where I learn he is now an assistant producer for a popular show that has now gone to a daily format. It was moments like this that made me wonder what I was doing with my life while my friend stuck with his interests and wound up reaping all the fruits of his labour while I was scapegoated by my company and coping from a failed relationship. It was very unpleasant and bothered me for the rest of that night.
I decided to improve my focus at my job despite what had happened. I reached out to my GM to be included in the weekly office meetings with the hope that I would be included in the weekly presentations and for some form of acknowledgment that I existed. I was included in the meetings but I was never asked to present anything despite my colleagues joking that I would eventually get picked to present like them. I asked for my colleague to see if I could be part of the department group that was involved setting the agenda and discussing challenges in the meetings but nothing came of it. Even though I was still in the office, I still felt I was not really a part of it in any professional capacity.
I really was bothered by the idea that I was falling behind. My actor friend had turned into a producer of a hit TV show, several of my colleagues were either leaving the company for better opportunities or were promoted. All of this was happening while I was still being paid the same wages and hitting an invisible ceiling. Other opportunities for training and growth were dashed out of a need to cover while my managers or colleagues were away. It was even more awkward having to deal with my predecessor and on weekly calls after she resigned and went to work for the client (I am still surprised my company allowed this conflict of interest to happen). Even my asshat cousin managed to get a job in NYC and bragged about it.
I started looking for new opportunities again with the help of a professionally updated resume. I eventually was contacted by a recruiter who told me of an opportunity at an agency. It took me 3 rounds of interviews and serious consideration before I signed the offer letter. I submitted my resignation and thanked my current manager for being patient and investing time to help me adjust to the new account team. It is going to be a bittersweet departure, but I need to move on after everything that has happened.
On a personal note, I started seeing someone not too long ago with the help of some friends who had set us up. I really hope it works out.