Raise your hand if you know what I do for a living? (I’m 99% certain my mother didn’t raise her hand.) I work in the weird and wonderful world of advertising. I fell into it by accident, and while I’m incredibly grateful for the path my career has taken, I have also been 100% clear that I have no fucking clue what’s going on. This is not a self-deprecating blog post intended to yield hundreds of comments about how talented I am, this is like a fucking alcoholic’s amends. Let me get this off my chest.
At least four times a week I find myself sitting at my desk, hoping that no one comes to ask me a question because I lack the emotional fortitude (in that moment) to come up with an answer that won’t result in my having to send out a mass email reminding people of something great I’ve done that week. Or worse, inviting everyone out for a beer on a Monday or Tuesday so that even if they think I’m useless there’ll be no question but that I’m culturally irreplaceable. (By the way, wordpress.com is challenging me on the work “there’ll”– I’m not backing down.)
I do have a few things going for me. First of all, I actually can write. It doesn’t happen all the time, and I’m not an ace in the hole, but I swear to the Creator of the Universe that when push comes to shove I can bullshit with the best of them. Second of all, I’m bitchy and opinionated so a lot of people are scared of me. Sometimes it makes me feel like Sandra Bullock in The Proposal and I want to lock myself in the bathroom and cry or send out another mass email telling people that I have feelings or that I’m actually just misunderstood, but it doesn’t work that way in the corporate world. You just have to swallow it and hope that you’re never seeking a job from one of them down the line.
I have a lot more things not going for me, though. First of all, I’m emotionally unstable. Secondly, I’m awkward. I can’t shoot the shit about American Idol because I don’t watch it and when I try to crack jokes at the water cooler no one laughs. My stories always take things a step too far (apparently joking about eating disorders, Haiti, or a disabled brother isn’t funny. I disagree). So most of my work days are spent sitting at my computer trying to come up with something good enough to keep me here for 30 more days. Or until my husband calls to tell me were moving somewhere.
Today I had a creative meeting about a campaign that we’re finalizing. As we’re reviewing the headlines (the part that I’m responsible for) I recognize the emotion I’m feeling is panic. It’s not that I don’t want to collaborate or make it better, I can’t. If it were a movie the script would read as follows:
(Caroline looks up in calm resignation and stands to address her colleagues. In an exacting, but labored movement she leans against the table for exaggerated support before beginning to speak.)
Caroline (voice steady by vulnerable):
There comes a time in our lives when we must stop running. The pressures of keeping up hold no weigh against the mounting pressures of disappointing those who believe in us. You have loved me, and I you; you have supported me, and I you; but now comes the time when I must do what is best– not for me– but for you. Like a weakened and unable member I must recognize that my team is lighter without me, their talents more obvious, their willingness more abundant. You have loved me like your own and now I must tell you that I can go no further. I have no more. I am not good enough. I have no answers. I have no headlines. I gave you the best of myself and it was not good enough.
(The room is silent. No one looks up as Caroline slips quietly out the door and into the hall. A male coworker looks up and surveys the group with mild enthusiasm or intrigue and then speaks.)
Male co-worker: Do you mind if move to her workstation?
Unfortunately it didn’t go anything like that. Wiping sweaty palms on my desk I committed to coming up with something better. I’m fucked.