I’m beginning to think I should have entitled this piece “How to drive yourself completely crazy thinking about all the bad stuff that could happen to you this year knowing you’re not mentally prepared to deal with it because you’ve just gotten off the 2019 roller coaster and your legs are still a bit unsteady.”
Just like playing an oversized version of a Jinga puzzle, this apprehension of mine has come in waves throughout the current year, and most of it has been either JOB related or WORK related.
The JOB being me as a project manager at an aerospace manufacturing company, the WORK being my daily struggles as a writer.
On the JOB front, the last four years have been well, let’s just say tumultuous is the best way to describe it.
Four years ago, I suffered the ignominy of having to deal with a psychopath for a boss, and because I had set my sights on taking his job as Director of the I/M group, I was forced to find several unique ways of coping.
Even when he once told me in a meeting with my peers, “if I want an opinion from you, I’ll give it to you.”
Did I mention he was a psychopath?
The apprehension in 2015 started when he was let go.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably telling yourself that his departure should have been the opening I’d been working for all this time, right? Well, I thought so too until I discovered what executive leadership was planning.
You see, the manufacturing plant I work at is an affiliate of a foreign-owned company.
We used to be known as affiliates, but the European contingency A.K.A. “The Mother Company” decided they didn’t care for providing their satellite manufacturing plants that much autonomy, so they promptly changed our titles to subsidiaries, and when that didn’t work for them, they called us customer service centers.
Okay, but that still shouldn’t account for my apprehension, should it?
Wait, there’s more.
Not only did “The Mother Company” choose to wrest operational control of the manufacturing plants, but they decided to eliminate any and all distributed I/M practices in North America.
This meant for me and those who worked with me, a lot of our duties were moved to a centralized support group in another state on the east coast.
Here come the layoffs.
Over the next four years, aside from walking out the director of our local I/M group, we lost ten other people in the I/M department through attrition. Yes, although we all saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall, some of us, myself included, were intent on sticking it out.
At the end of 2018, I had my year-end review with my new boss, and things were going pretty good until he asked me a question that actually sent nervous chills up and down my spine.
He asked me a simple, and yet very telling question, “Paul, where are some areas that you can add value?”
Huh, all these years, I thought my work ethics, my constant striving to provide the company excellent service at the lowest cost possible, was adding value.
Turns out what they really wanted was for me to butt the heck out of operations and become a dime a dozen I/M project manager.
Their words, not mine.
Okay, now those hieroglyphics on the wall aren’t just pictures of animals and squiggly lines. They’re starting to make sense that unless I give them three times the effort and produced more than I ever had since I started working for the company, I was clearly on my way out.
Cue the exit music, and crank up the apprehension of potentially having to find a new JOB.
But then, in my opinion, I really didn’t want to find a new JOB, especially when I thought about the WORK I’d been doing.
The writing work.
Look, I’ve been showing up at a JOB for companies helping them make money for the better part of forty years. I was tired of the pressure of slaving for them. Instead, I wanted to work for me, and I tried, Lord knows I tried, but working for those companies ensured a steady income.
My writing did not.
Yeah, I know. Some of you are probably thinking I took the easy way out, tried to hang onto both support groups, one financially rewarding, the other emotionally satisfying.
I sit before you all humble and contritely guilty.
To my credit, if there is any credit, I leaned in on my writing. I swore an oath back in March of this year that I would make something out of my writing, that I would write and post every day.
That I would grow my business of writing so that when the next round of layoffs did come, I could switch revenue streams and keep a semblance of lifestyle my wife and me were accustomed to.
Again cue the music and let the apprehension flow. Everybody that does this day in, day out knows this business we’re in is a slow grinding marathon, not a hundred-yard dash to success.
If you don’t, you just haven’t been doing it long enough to understand.
And while I’ve grown my writing business to some degree and increased my revenue stream a tad, it, of course, is nowhere near what it needs to be to support us.
So as I sit here on the first day of 2020, one that’s supposed to be filled with promise and good fortune, I really have to tell you, folks, my stomach is churning a bit nervously as I drive myself a little crazy trying to predict future events.
I don’t think I should lean in this hard pondering what direction my life is going to take in 2020.
And yet, I’m actually sitting here doing just that.
I don’t think I should sit here and wonder whether or not I will get kicked to the curb at my JOB, even though I triple my output.
And yet again, I’m wondering what new JOB I will need to find.
I don’t believe I should beat the crap out of myself daily because I’m just not making enough with my writing. Yeap, you guessed it.
Even though I know it’s impossible to accurately predict future events, I have, by filling my head with apprehension and doubt, eradicated all rational thoughts and let myself become a worry wort. Knowing if I keep this up, I’m going to develop a base for some abysmal decisions.
Perhaps I should just let my dear wife slap some sense into me?
She’s gotten pretty good at that lately.
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