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Institutionalized

November 23, 2010

So it's time for me to start job hunting. And there's a lot of really good reasons to do so. I went to a competitor's job fair a few weeks ago and it felt much like going into enemy territory. I expected at any moment someone would point me out and tell me I'm not allowed to even think or talk about the competitor let alone be taken on a tour through their facility. I'm not enormously sentimental especially not about where I'm at or the trials and tribulations I've gone through to get here. But there is one thing that's going to be difficult for me.
 
Much as I need to move on and do something new it is difficult to start all over. I have spent such a big chunk of my youngish life here. I know so many people, know how things used to be, know the history, and am well connected on the information grapevine. None of this has resulted in real positions of authority or responsibility but it does give me some satisfaction. And wherever I go I will be the newbie. People here know me from way back and even if I got a new area of responsibility enough people knew me from back then that it was not too difficult to earn some level of likeability and get started right away. But somewhere else I'll have to start from scratch. Prove myself every inch. And that scares me. Yes I've done it before, but I've only done it once or twice. And not from some level of experience to a greater level of experience, which is even harder if you're trying to pretend like you're already know something and then deal with your flareups of imposter syndrome.
 
I feel a little like the characters in Shawshank Redemption. When they get out it is hard for them to adjust to their new life. In prison, even though it was prison, they had achieved a level of respect and authority. Out in the real world they are just ex-cons. And I worry how much of myself I can take with me to a new job. I'm eager for new technical challenges but fear learning everyone's name or how to understand their internal database systems or how to figure out the best contacts along the way. I'm afraid of making new friends all over again. Afraid that what I have here is a sham based only on my personality and not on my skill. That starting somewhere else will be impossible once they all figure out how incompetent I really am. Because it's easy to keep sliding further into the quicksand of home. And it's difficult to grab the rope and step out into the jungle.
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2010 2:57 pm

    oh, I thin k I recognize that feeling… deep breaths and hope in the future. Life outside prison might be tentative at first, small steps, but soon you will roam freely and rule :)As for imposter syndrome, try to put it in the back back – you are good at what you do and have plenty skills. Don't listen to the voices who says otherwise. Not worth it.Best of luck finding new job!!

  2. November 23, 2010 5:06 pm

    I have left and arrived so often, I should be COO of Budget Rental trucks. Everytime I start somewhere new, I find that my skills are far better than those around me, particularly the yahoos in supervisory positions. My grad program was exceptional, and I was spoiled with resources, helpful people, and equipment. I find that most of the people around me are still faking it. More pats on the back for breathing at their desks! It takes me about a week to sort out the dynamics between the players. Then I don't know how to deal with it.What's difficult for me with every transition is how low I have to go to not be a threat to the yahoos, to not show ambition and drive, to not show how much I know. I play the "you can do it! it's so easy a caveman can do it" game with those who stick shit on my desk they know I can do, but are too lazy and shitty to learn themselves, or maudforbid ask me to show them. I am seen as a go-getter, my pub record shows I get shit done, so some want a piece of me to take credit for, others want me out of their way now so I don't pull their curtain back. I can pick out immediately the people who care about their work, and the people who care about themselves.You will always be proving yourself for every inch that's not in your pants. You will spend your entire life walking a fine line as a woman scientist. I found that I need a good team of people around me, no exceptions. I can't handle being surrounded by assholes, it eats away at me daily. I can't handle working alone, day after day either. DO NOT TAKE A JOB WITHOUT VISITING THE PEOPLE AND PLACE. DO NOT DO IT. And trust your gut about what you are experiencing. Don't talk yourself out of your gut feelings. I recently interviewed with someone I thought I was great (on paper), and heard "I enjoyed looking over your CV, you've done really interesting stuff", but when I mentioned that I worked on StrangeShit, I got a "really?" Yeah, 10 papers. They were on my CV. That was so interesting. That you looked over. Ya know. The hallways were empty, old fogeys pushing paper at the desks in their closed offices, dirty dishes in the sink, the microwave had tupperware all over it, it was dead quiet. I declined the offer. I would have rotted at my desk there.Good luck. jc

  3. November 23, 2010 7:51 pm

    Hey, best of luck! I know how you feel, I actually felt that way when I left my comfortable job to go to grad school, and, indeed, feel that way now as I consider not going back to my comfortable job after graduating. But don't be afraid to try something new. Worse that happens is it doesn't work out and you find another job. Best that happens is you find a fantastic work environment where you don't have to prove yourself every single second, get treated well, get given the responsibility you want, etc. In any case, no one will look down upon you for going to try out another opportunity. I think as women we tend to have more loyalty to companies than men.

  4. November 23, 2010 11:03 pm

    I know how you feel… And yes, it's scary, but I'm also one of those people who would rather leave a party while I'm still having fun, rather than waiting until everyone is drunk and sloppy. And, it's a chance for a fresh start. So if there was anyone who had a grudge against you (jealous, maybe?) or if you want to be perceived differently (more of a grownup, maybe?) it can sometimes be easier to start from scratch.

  5. November 24, 2010 12:34 am

    Great advice everyone and thanks. It does help to hear all your experiences and "talk it through" here. And thanks Fluxor for the wonderful music selection.

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