Peep my CV:
- Personal Assistant
- Office Assistant (I actually say "Marketing Assistant" but this is a bit of a stretch)
- Publicity Assistant
- Online Marketing Coordinator
- Unemployed World Traveler
This covers my life from age 21, after I'd graduated with an English degree from the University of Toronto, to age 28. It does not include the three months I took off to "write" (be depressed) and the four months I was enrolled in a book publishing program at Humber College.
Admittedly, my shift into book publishing at the midpoint certainly didn't assist in what was obviously a rocketing ascent. And I was lucky enough not to have to suffer through any internships or periods of underemployment (patchy part-time work etc.).
But what did happen was that I spent the last seven years, give or take, being a really low-level office worker who managed to move up the income bracket a whole four and a half thousand dollars. Before I left for Mexico I had little to no clue how I was to advance in my work, which to my mind meant roughly more dinero, more freedom in a role of increased responsibility, and working in an environment conducive to professional growth.
The probability of this happening seemed about as likely as Mitt Romney with his binders full of women.
I resent that the Forbes article begins with big juicy stats about the second class status of women in the workplace and ends by saying that women have to revise their expectations and become yoga instructors. And then it has the audacity to say that we expect our jobs to make us happy, and that we need to be more flexible about "what's fun."
What about equal pay? What about equal opportunity? What about not placing the burden of responsibility on women, who apparently don't take enough breaks in our day (men are 25% more likely to do so!) and thus are responsible for our sluggish careers and eventual epic burnout?
I can't not attribute my rancid career to my struggle with depression. But peep this.
In the last year my extracurricular activities (outside of my full-time job) were thus:
- Trained for and then ran a half marathon
- Mentored a 16-year-old girl
- Wrote for Torontoist and other publications
- Took Spanish classes twice a week for seven months
- Attended networking and book publishing events regularly
The above does not include wonderful life stuff like dating, working actively on my mental health, being my own wife, mother, and cleaning lady, and having a social life.
It was a privileged, comfortable life. It was also incredibly frustrating. I was incredibly busy and getting pretty much no where, except that I was satisfying my inner need to believe that I was trying.
Eventually I ran myself so ragged that I got sick, which is what my body does when my mind refuses to believe that I am exhausted and fed up. I plotted to move to Mexico City (where I now live) because I could see no other viable option. I was sick and tired of trying things with no tangible output. Call me fussy, but I wanted results. I decided it was better to call a time out and regroup then continue my maddening circuitous course.
Forbes suggests that I see my career as a marathon, not a sprint. But I already ran a marathon, or a half one at least, and I've done a lot more besides. My talents demand reciprocity, not docility. Do we tell young men to take it easy? No! We tell them to go get 'em, tiger!
What most obviously has to change is the lack of women in middle and upper management positions. There really are binders of women out there, it simply can't be true that there are no viable female candidates. The pathways into more fruitful jobs must be cleared for women or our much-needed passion, creativity, and intelligence is going to keep hitting that much-discussed ceiling and dissipating into yoga studios and Mexican barrios.
The women in my life are talented, full of zeal, and ready to work but many of them are underused and under appreciated. This is an incredible waste. It's not women who need to re-imagine their role in the workforce, the onus is on employers to start actively placing women in non-entry level positions and creating pathways for younger women to advance. Dust off those binders, gentlemen.
*Thanks to Brianna for pointing me to the Forbes article.
I recommend the following books for anyone else who feels burnt out and wants to move to Mexico:
- The 4-Hour Workweek (yes really).
- Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Elizabeth Gilbert knocks it out of the park on this one. Essential for anyone who wants to live a bigger life.
- Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. If you haven't read this yet, DO.
- The Gifts of Imperfection. Brene Brown on feelings of inadequacy and shame. Essential.