Work is incredibly stressful right now on all fronts, at both workplaces, so I should be working on a presentation I have tomorrow at 9:00AM or a journal article that was due today. Instead, I am here…
I will be the first to admit that, in the context of both my personal and professional relationships, I privilege some degree of control, and when I don’t feel like I have it, I try to negotiate for it. If that fails, my next instinct is not to fight but to flee. Unsurprisingly, this propensity is not entirely limited to my career and has occasionally been a theme in my romantic relationships. In any instance, it is how I am feeling at the moment about my employment with Organization C. My new boss (for the sake of clarity I will call him the Politician) is incredibly entitled and treats donors and funders in a strictly transactional manner as if they owe our organization (a non-profit) thousands of dollars instead of it being a collaborative partnership towards “shared” goals. This is incredibly frustrating and thus far my most significant contribution to Organization C has been building a better relationship with our largest donor, who said, and I quote, “He [Politician] comes off as entitled to all of us. Listen, I want you [Afro Penny] to be successful but things need to change.” Right.
For a moment, I thought perhaps I had jumped from the frying pan into the fire in my departure from University B, as at least I liked my boss at University B, even if I couldn’t trust him to act in the best interest of my career, but things are equally messy there. The promotions and raises my boss (we’ll call him the Preacher) promised my colleagues (and me prior to my departure) never materialized and instead they were offered a very small salary adjustment. And while other information might lead me to believe that this results from organizational changes that are not entirely the Preacher’s fault, his continued inability to be transparent is baffling. Especially when the information is known across the division. Instead of just saying, “Unfortunately, things are happening that are out of my control…” he is instead going with, “I am just as shocked and surprised as you are. I didn’t even notice that your ‘offer’ letters from human resources were for a small ‘salary adjustment’ and not for a promotion even though I sent the form letter directly to you myself.” Right.
Had I stayed at University B, I might have more job fulfillment as I would still be doing direct program work and supporting students. However, I would also be in the same position as my former colleagues: underpaid and unable to trust my boss to advocate for me or deal with me fairly. It is in reflecting on this cushion and a soft place in which I sit* (satire, because yes, I recognize my egregious privilege) that thoughts of fleeing arise. They are of the short-term and medium-term variety and vacillate between quitting and heading back abroad to teach English and hustling to get my debt below $50,000.00 this year and then quitting to do (insert numerous entrepreneurial ideas here).
For all of the reasons that have crossed your mind in the seconds it took you to read those statements, I will likely do neither of those things. Instead, I will go to bed. Get up early. Finish the presentation. Write the article. Tend to all of my other tasks. And generally, be grateful I have well-paying employment. However, before those things, during those things, in between those things, I will also be contemplating the cost of work autonomy.
*To be more explicit, I acknowledge that the mismatch at Organization C between myself and the Politician, as well as the lesser mismatch between myself and my role, is of my own making. I was so intent on acquiring a better-paying position that I placed far more emphasis in the interview process on selling myself to them. I should have spent as much time
| ensuring that the role, and the leadership, were a good fit for me. It is much easier to say it now, but I will do a better job of interviewing in the future.