When Success and Acceptance Are Failure and Rejection

My work situation has been fairly unhappy for a long time. It is tedious and there is no room for advancement where I work. It’s a large, dysfunctional organization with a host of built in biases that put me at a distinct disadvantage. At my workplace they have been restructuring for over a year now, essentially under the guise of best practices improvements. It being an educational institution with the person in charge coming from private enterprise, what is really happening is the corporatization of the university. They are also using some amusing doublespeak words to label the restructuring, and it is so specific that I can’t actually say it here since it would clearly reveal the place. I will say that so far two large groups have been restructured, much to the chagrin of the people that use the services of those groups. Sadly and unfortunately, the restructuring of the group I work with looks to be no different. (I am going to write more about that another time, in fact.)

Restructuring in this case means dissolving and eliminating existing process and human resource infrastructure. On the whole it means large scale depersonalization or most process and infrastructure services. For me personally, and all of my colleagues, it means having to apply for new jobs in the newly formed restructured group, interview for those jobs and then either be hired into those new positions or be laid off. I was hired into a new position. Success and acceptance! …that feels like failure and rejection. Why? Because it continues me down the same plodding path I’ve been in for nearly five years without any change in sight.  I can look back on a lot of great positive changes that I implemented myself (in fact, that’s another entry and probably some great things to add to my LinkedIn profile), but overall I feel like a wasted resource where I work and with the work I do.

I successfully landed my job back. I was offered a position. Yet, it feels like I failed to really make any changes. Additionally, one of the key parts of the new job is a site relocation in six months to a site that I have worked at before but which I find abysmal. Landing the same job is a small disappointment because I also interview for a small step up position that, frankly, I am overqualified for to begin with (as I am with my current job). The relocation feels like outright rejection, though. And so here I am writing about it all to sort out how to make these two things positive movements forward.

Successfully landing the same position: Motivation. That is the positive move forward. My workplace is vastly underusing me and my skills. That’s dual motivation of (1) perhaps I didn’t present myself or portray myself in the right way in the interview, (2) where I work is a progressive educational institution which means that who I am genetically has a big influence on whether or not I am considered for a position or not and (3) educational institutions are political institutions and I am not a politically oriented or politically motivated person. This is a two-fold motivation: change myself and change my environment. Two-fold is a good way to describe it, as these two ideas fold in on each other. My environment is one that does not really encourage me to thrive or excel, nor is it one that values what I have to offer.  Therefore, my motivation to find a place that does value those things (or to create a place for myself that values those things) is very high. This is the positive aspect of a bad situation and this is the learning moment of the bad situation: Change myself. Change my environment.

Acceptance via banishment: Motivation. My workplace is moving me to a location I don’t find safe or agree with being assigned to and I can’t help but interpret it as a form or social rejection. Coincidentally I had an article clipped to Evernote with the subject tag “inspiration” and “motivation” about this very thing. The suggestions they give are good, and the first suggestion  is to confront the problem. I did that immediately, even before accepting the job (I have not accepted as of this writing, in fact) in email asking about this relocation.  I received what I can only describe as exactly the type of responses I have come to expect from the place where I work. It is interesting to receive responses like this, though.  Non-committal, deflective responses emphasize what I learned in the previous paragraph: It is not an environment where I can thrive. Deflection and not answering the questions from a future supervisor is never a good sign, but having that knowledge ahead of time is a good to know.  It keeps me from wasting time in the future. The other suggestion is the one that is all part of the Focus Project: “if it can’t be solved, consider ways to remove yourself from the situation because unwarranted social rejection isn’t healthy for anybody”.  And that is exactly the plan over the next year. Move on. Move out. Move away. Move forward.

Move. “A person has to participate.” – Studs Terkel

Comments are closed.