I am on the job hunt again. Due to a variety of circumstances I have been job hunting for most of the 2.5 years I’ve been in Portland and I’m over it. And yet…while I was able to get myself together enough to hang an online shingle for my own business as a Transformation and Ritual Guide, I haven’t promoted it at all and I’m working out why (definitely has something to do with trusting my value and “selling” myself, which I do as an experienced admin professional but not in this new arena working one-on-one). I clearly have some things to work out and evolve into. In the meantime, starting in January I need to bring in a certain amount of income until Eros works his way into driver at UPS (we’re hoping for 2017 to be our year as he becomes eligible for driver in February and they call for them in April), so I’m looking for work with the hopes it will be a short-term gig. Unless it’s an awesome part-time gig – like working for an entrepreneur I respect – that will keep me feeling useful and valued while I continue working on my book, my creative projects, and getting my own business off the ground.
But it’s tough to get excited about interviews and organizations after already doing this so long, as well as being undervalued, disrespected, and involuntarily terminated by the three employers I’ve had here. I am not accustomed to failure, so this has been a major hit to my pride and my internal sense of value. I know I’m an exemplary admin who does excellent work for my people and my peers have always reflected this to me. But the leaders are a different story, which is why I don’t want to work for others any longer than I have to (and I know having to is within my power and I am definitely in some kind of healing process around my ability to offer my gifts to the world).
It’s a strange experience being an excellent candidate who gets phone screens and interviews for at least 1/2 of my resumes sent out and gets to the point of final interviews for at least 1/2 of those – meaning that out of hundreds of candidates I am often in the top 10 and then in the top 2-3. I’m great on paper, I have excellent references (I’ve been told so repeatedly by potential employers), and I clearly interview well or I wouldn’t get through the first and sometimes second or third levels as often as I do. And yet I’ve been in the last interview phase more than 25 times in the last 2.5 years and have only been chosen twice. It’s frustrating and I can’t help questioning what it is about me that doesn’t feel like a match to those evaluating me.
I have recognized that my one weakness coming to Portland is that I’m used to softer people and cultures when it comes to professionalism. Humboldt County is an unusual place and since I grew up as a professional there, I assumed most non-profit work cultures were softer and more open, where it’s easy to be myself. That has not been my experience in Portland. I’ve learned that I need to achieve a new level of what is called professionalism, although I see it as repressing our humanness to project an image and that’s hard for me. I don’t do false image. I don’t repress my humanness very well. I don’t want anyone to have to repress their humanness ever, which is why my mission is radical inclusion.
I am an emotional being and empath who reads the emotions of the people around me and I prefer to tell the truth about how things feel. If a culture feels harmful and my people are unhappy, I’m going to tell my leaders so. I’m accustomed to having excellent relationships with my leaders where that openness exists and my perspective is valued. That has not been the case in Portland. In the position I worked for 18 months, I was terminated for telling the truth about my experience with my supervisor and the organization’s leadership. I was just supposed to ignore being outright refused to bring more value, and my job and my involvement on the team being diminished to nearly nothing, to the point that my supervisor even forgot to meet with me for four months (she actually said it was my fault I didn’t remind her to do her job). It was like the leaders just forgot I existed except when I fulfilled the few responsibilities they needed and they expected me to be satisfied with being radically under valued and put on a happy face every day. This was in an organization with a mission for building community. How do I trust that other organizations here are going to be any different?
I’m also frustrated at myself that I wasn’t as ready to launch my own business as I hoped during this six months of unemployment, which I know has to do with healing from birth mother grief and emotional abuse trauma and losing my chosen family and my professional losses, and yet I can’t help feeling disappointed that I’m back to putting my professional well-being in the hands of others.
Both Eros and I intuitively feel like our time is coming, that we’re almost there as far as finding our happy rhythm professionally and financially. It’s this liminal space between that is just so damn uncomfortable – and it’s a place I have lived in nonstop since I found out I was pregnant with my birth son four years ago. This is why I know I can hold great space for others living in the liminal spaces of transformation. I know this territory so well. I just need to trust myself and find a way to express the value I offer to others.
Thank you for listening.