I got back to work today, after nearly six weeks.
It was good to reconnect with people.
I was talking to one of my colleagues and she said, “Our manager is really glad you are back. She really missed you. I’m sure she will be glad to have someone to talk with about the things that are going on.”
She said, “No, Listen to me, I’m serious.”
I laughed, not because I didn’t believe her but because I didn’t believe anyone could feel that way about me.
It is hard for me to see and value the contributions I make in many parts of my life but work is especially hard. There is a voice in my mind saying, “harder, faster, longer, better.” I also don’t think of myself as driven but in a sense that is very true. I am driven to do more and exceed what I have done before. I am constantly trying to prove to others (but mostly myself) that I am worth it, that I am good enough to be where I am.
At work, it takes the form of shame about a college. I quit early when my mom found out I was gay and living with either of my parents was difficult. I got a job and went to work full time in a restaurant. I worked in that company for 8 years, becoming the youngest store manager in the company’s history. I still carried the shame.
When I got to Atlanta and starting working for the bank, I put in many years learning the business and again working my way up to be a banking center manager. Still wasn’t good enough.
Today, I support 11,000 employees providing employee engagement and diversity and inclusion efforts and programs. I’m still not there.
I suspect if I was a CEO, I would still be looking higher, to be the best.
While I have certainly benefited from this over the years, it is a heavy burden to carry.
My hope is that someday I can look at my 22 year career and appreciate the hard work it took to get where I am.
I love what I do…
…but not when I hear that voice…