Sometimes they’re bigger than others, of course. Almost a year ago (almost exactly a year ago, actually), I took a huge chance and instead of slinking off into the wilds of gods-knows-where in the midst of a break-up, I popped The Question to the man of my dreams. It was the ultimate make-or-break moment because either he was going to choose to stay indefinitely or we were never going to see each other again. Really, when you pop the question, those are the only two options because if you say “no” or even “not yet”, it gets awkward and uncomfortable.
Likewise, when you start a path – or even start investigating a path – it can slip the leash and start running rampant. Sometimes it’s something as simple as looking for a job – or even just looking at other jobs – and then suddenly you’re neck-deep in realizing how unhappy you are at that moment in your current position, and then you have to analyze why you’re not happy so that you don’t end up there again… and that’s kinda where I am.
So, we moved into this amazing house, and we knew it was going to be a little more expensive, but it was will within out paper budget. There are little pleasures I like to indulge in, though, like pedicures. And food. And that’s when I really started looking at my bank account and feeling the pinch not just of being underpaid but of being undervalued.
That’s the rough spot right there: my last job review was glowing and my boss is happy, and he offered to scrape up a whole thirty-cent raise. He also gave me a pretend-promotion. Woo. It might seem a little ungrateful, but I actually felt offended and slighted rather than rewarded. When you’re not even making a livable wage in the first place and you’re outperforming the people in the tier above you, thirty cents and more responsibility without a real title is not a kudo.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful that I have a job at all, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to stick with it as long as I have, but being grateful for a thing is not the same as staying unnecessarily loyal to a thing.
And that’s the lesson I learned from my first marriage.
So, I started peeking at other jobs. I started putting out some resumes. I seriously started to consider putting pants on. Seriously. And lo-and-behold, I’ve had three preliminary interviews in the past week for two jobs, and both jobs look promising. One pays much better than the other and might require slightly snazzier dressing, but I’d be happy with either, in fairness. I’m debating continuing to put out resumes until the end is decided, because a bird in the hand and all that, but could I top the offers I have? Probably not, but I could find similar things.
Here’s what’s remarkable about this, though. I realized that as I was looking for new jobs, I was doing so with a solid sense of what my work was worth. When I worked for the video game company, I was woefully underpaid for what they wanted/needed me to do, so I found I had a very hard time (especially at the end) giving a damn about the company at all. Add to that the stress of having no guidance but all the blame, and there was no amount of money that could make that okay. Now, I’m looking at a position that is in the same discipline but a different market, and I feel I can confidently ask for something other than the lowest end of the spectrum. Even if I did take that low end, my take-home would be far better than where I am now.
All the kudos in the world don’t make up for being undervalued. I refuse to continue feeling like Cinderella, where I can only move up in a career or do the things that I want to do until I’ve taken care of everyone and everything else – often only to have my gown torn to shreds rather than receive the pay-off. I will have my pay-off now, thankyouverymuch, because I have more than paid my dues several times over.
I don’t say that I’ll never work for peanuts again – sometimes when that’s all you can get, that’s what you take – but I can say that I’ll never pass by an opportunity because I think I’m not good enough, despite a proven track record.
I teach people all the time how to feed themselves, cook for themselves, in order to show and develop their self-love, and this is me feeding myself now.
It’s thrilling and exhilarating, and I really, really hope there’s a pile of straw at the end of this fall because I’m not sure how much longer my awesome and sweet customers can make up for the gnawing reality of being grossly taken for granted.