That time when I didn’t take the job at Facebook

standard September 23, 2014 3 responses

Seven years ago, almost to the day, I dropped off my 11-week-old child at the daycare her 2-year-old sister attended daily, which she too would soon attend regularly, and headed off to Facebook HQ.

I was wearing a professional looking outfit that didn’t fit right over my still bloated post-partum body. I hadn’t slept more than an hour at a stretch in 11 weeks. I looked broken, felt broken, but most importantly, was desperate to not go back to my existing job when my tiny infant turned 4 months old.

Facebook at the time was still relatively new. By that I mean that they had just celebrated their millionth user and were feeling pretty badass, but their head quarters consisted of a bunch of cheap looking furniture on which perched MASSIVE computer screens. Power cords crisscrossed all the floors and the conference rooms just looked a bit… unfinished.

They’d just experienced their first big media hiccup – the Facebook SUCKS debacle stemming from the banning of breast feeding photos, which led to moms leaving the site in droves and deleting their accounts in a huff.

I was being interviewed for a customer service position and I was really excited to discuss the issue with them.

I should have known better.

My interviewer – head of the department – was a young guy who didn’t look old enough to have to shave daily. After talking briefly with him, I met with every important member of his team, pitching myself as best as I could without really being able to glean what it was they were looking for, why they’d brought me in to interview, feeling increasingly uncomfortable as my milk supply built up, missing my sweet baby, wondering what the heck I was doing in this start-up office, talking to people who had a very different take on customer service than I did.

I asked them what they planned to do about the Facebook SUCKS walkout and they shrugged, asking me if I really thought it was worth worrying about.

I asked them about their overtime policy and they gleefully told me that everyone was allowed to work as much overtime as they wanted.

I asked them about how strict office hours were and if it would be weird if I dashed out the door to get to daycare on time at the end of the day. They looked perplexed, told me they thought that one team member might be married, but that they were certain no one had kids, and anyone most of them went out for drinks every day after work and that it would nice if I could join them a couple times a week.

I walked out of that room dazed, looked around at all the people hunched over keyboards, frantically typing, fully focused on their work, knowing without a shred of a doubt that this was not the place for me.

A few weeks later the hiring manager called and told me he thought I might not be a good fit for the team. I actually laughed and said “Ya think?”

Then, a month later, I gave up on the hopes of finding the ideal position, dropped off my baby at daycare with her sister and went back to my soul sucking job, which felt a little less soul sucky now that I knew what the alternative could be.

I wasn’t there for all that much longer, but that’s a whole other story.

Last week, I got to go back to Facebook HQ. New location, new digs, better furniture, different vibe, lots of new people.

I wasn’t there because a family member had landed me an interview, I wasn’t there because I was looking for a job, I was there because I’d been invited as an influential blogger to hear about how certain Facebook products could be beneficial to families.

I was shown to a lovely conference room, given some fun Facebook schwag, introduced to a lot of neat Facebook programs, invited to share feedback, and then taken on a tour of the new campus.

To say that it was a different experience is putting it mildly.

To say that I was a different person is putting it mildly too.

I was not tired, broken, fragile. I was feeling strong, good about myself, good about what I know, what I do.

On that day 7 years ago, I could not have told you where my path was heading. I was worried I’d be an administrative assistant/office manager for the rest of my life.

A month ago if you’d asked me, I don’t think I could have put into words what visiting the Facebook campus made me realize.

I seem to have come a lot further than I had noticed. I seem to have learned more than I thought. I seem to have grown more than I would have ever deemed possible.

I’m really glad I didn’t get that job back then.

I’m really glad to be on the path I ended up on.

Facebook schwag

The only one standing in my way is me

standard September 8, 2014 1 response

I woke up this morning to discover that I had double booked myself on Friday morning. Two meetings, at the same time, that I’m supposed to be leading, in two different towns. A problem 100% caused by my own fault.

I can fix the problem. I can even try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. (Duh. There’s a reason people use calendars instead of relying on their own human brains.) But as I stewed over the situation all while packing school lunches and getting the kids ready for school, I realized a hard and unpleasant truth.

The only one standing in my way is me.

These last few days I’ve found myself constantly overwhelmed and frustrated. I’m overwhelmed by work and frustrated that it’s not the work I keep telling myself I want to be doing.

I’m like a petulant child, throwing mental tantrums, raging against the world.

I groan and gripe and tell myself that  I’m being forced to do work I don’t really want to do. I stamp a mental foot and whine about not being given the mental space to do the writing I crave doing.

But if I’m honest with myself, and apparently it took this calendaring snafu to get there, there’s nothing to really rail against.

I’m actually really lucky and grateful to have two, possibly soon three, clients who value my experience and opinions. I love the consulting work I do. I love being sought out for my knowledge and ideas. I come to life on consulting calls. I thrill at being able to connect people. It’s fun and I’m good at it. There’s really nothing not to like.

I think it all – the frustration and overwhelmedness – boils down to one thing. Fear. Pure, simple fear.

Fear. The dragon that stands in the way of success.

Fear that I will fail. Fear that I’ve oversold myself. Fear that, at any moment, someone will realize that I don’t really have anything of value to bring to the table.

And maybe, if we dig even deeper, that’s why I’m not using any of my available time to write, to finish my second novel.

It’s fine, at the start of a busy week, to bluster and grumble about the lack of time. There’s nothing to be done about it this week. There will definitely be no time to dive into the book. But, really, there was time last week and the week before, and I didn’t take advantage of it then.

Fear. Fear of getting lost in the work. Fear the book will be no good. Fear that I can’t deliver a second time. Fear that even a second book can’t help bolster the sales of the first. Fear that I’ll fail at this thing I value so much and that I’ll have no reason to keep going down that path.

Not getting it done is so much easier than facing those fears.

I am my own biggest obstacle.

I need to get over myself, to tell the voices in my head to hush up already.

There’s work to be done.

There are dragons to slay.

The time for living is now

standard June 16, 2014 2 responses

There are days, many of them really, when life feels like a slog through a muddy field. Day to day details, obligations, petty challenges and hurdles drag at you as you muddle through from morning ’til night only to get up the next day and start over. You find yourself saying things like “I just need to get through this one week, this one thing, this one obligation… and then I’ll be ok.” But you get through that one thing and poof, there’s another waiting around the corner to drag you back down again.

I’ve written before about my attempts to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. To take time to savor the little things in the middle of the chaos. To be rather than do. To live the life I’m living rather than wishing it away.

I’ve spent even more time thinking about how to do just that.

It’s so easy to make to do lists, plans, write down goals, and to put actual living on hold until you accomplish everything you set out to do.

I was in the car the other day when the lyrics to The Gambler by Fun stopped my thoughts in their tracks.

With our out-of-the-norm medical bills, high mortgage, and other expenses that accrue when raising two kids, a cat, and a puppy in an affluent area, we find ourselves frequently worrying about money and savings. We spend what we must, but skimp on as many extras as we can, not going out to eat whenever we want, not having as many date nights as we need, never taking a vacation that isn’t an oblication of sorts.

Fun’s words rang in my ears as I drove, thinking about all the fun trips our friends were taking this summer.

We’ve got 50 good years left to spend out in the garden
I don’t care to beg your pardon,
We should live until we die.”

50 years. 50 years is a long time.

Saving is important. So is being prepared for various horrible things that could maybe happen down the road.

But life is sometimes much shorter than we anticipate. So what’s the point of saving and scrimping for a possible future when we have a life to live today?

We aren’t draining our savings. We aren’t going to stop being smart and frugal. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to put off living my life today in anticipation of living it further down the road.

After all, in this grand rat race that we run, who decides when we’re done achieving and are ready to start enjoying the fruit of our labors? And what if we wait too long?

This August M, C, Little L and I are taking our first vacation as a family of four. Yes. Our first. C is 9, Little L will be 7, and we’ve never taken a family vacation that wasn’t centered on heading to see extended family for a holiday.

It’s not going to be long, it’s not going to be fancy. I bought the tickets at super last minute discount rates. We booked an inside cabin and I doubt that we’ll splurge on any shore excursions, but for four days we’re cruising down to Mexico. Just us. Just to nibble at this life of ours.

I have a feeling it’s going to be grand.

It is the life I’m meant to live

standard March 14, 2014 4 responses

The wonderful thing about writing the kinds of blog posts that make you cringe as you hit “publish” is that it gives your friends and family an opening for the conversations that you never really know how to start.

You can’t exactly grab your glass of wine at a girls’ night out and say “so, hey, I’ve been majorly depressed recently, but how are you doing?” because it kind of throws a pall on the whole evening. Ditto for a cup of tea on Monday morning, or that Wednesday afternoon coffee. As it turns out, there’s never really a good time for that conversation.

Dumping all of your raw feels onto the virtual page is super cathartic, very cleansing, and also, as I mentioned, a great way to start all sorts of conversations.

And I have to say, I love my friends. I love how many of them called, texted, emailed, or just came over to ask how I was doing. That alone would have gone a long way towards making me feel better.

The conversations I’ve had with them went even further.

The thought that has gone around and around and around in my head these last few months, as irrational and absurd as it might be is this. “This isn’t the life I was supposed to live.”

It’s the thought I’ve thought as I walk the puppy, as I make yet another school lunch, as I drive to school for drop off and back again for pick-up, as I coach a running program or read an anti-bullying book, as I make dinner, do laundry, load the dishwasher, unload the dishwasher, pick-up dog poop outside, clean dirty sheets, and do the million other little tasks a mom has to do day in and day out. 

It’s the thought I’ve thought as I run my own PR for the novel I took four years to write and that I always assumed would be picked up by a huge publishing house and released to the world with great fanfare. 

It’s the thought I’ve thought as I wonder what my friends who live so very far away are doing right then and lamenting the fact that they’re not here close to me.

It’s the thought I’ve thought as I’ve watched my husband struggle with some aspect of dealing with life with an autoimmune disorder. 

It’s the thought I’ve thought as I worry about my oldest daughter and her struggles with anxiety and all the other things that make 3rd grade harder than 2nd. 

It’s the thought I’ve thought as I worry about how my youngest daughter will get through this not so awesome 1st grade year. 

It’s the thought I’ve thought as I wonder who the other two kids I always thought I’d have would have been. 

It’s the thought that has been the soundtrack to my discontent these last few weeks.

And now that I’m finally giving voice to these thoughts I’ve come to realize that it’s not a thought that’s unique to me. So many of us are stuck on the feeling that these aren’t the lives we were supposed to be living. Simply hearing others express that they’ve also been feeling this way has been incredibly helpful.

In the middle of all this eye opening insight coming to me from so many of my friends, I happened across a blog post I wrote years ago, inspired by a post written by a friend who has since passed away, me that we’re never promised a specific kind of life, we’re just given a life. What we do with it is up to us.

Life is what it is. It has ups, it has downs, it has twists and turns. There’s no road map, no promises. There’s just the sunrise every day and the option to make decisions about what direction to take when the opportunity arises.

I have to say, I kind of blame television for this pervasive feeling of “but this isn’t how it should be” that so many of us seem to be struggling to master. On TV, relationships aren’t quite as hard, families aren’t quite as complex, life isn’t quite as challenging. Major life hurdles are neatly handled in the space of one or two episodes, all loose ends wrapped up and dealt with, characters ready to move on to their next challenge. Life lessons are learned, morals dispensed, and presto, everyone is ready for whatever comes next.

Real life is so much messier. There isn’t always a neat and easy resolution, not always a lesson to be learned, not always an end to the story arc. And there isn’t a team of writers thinking of engaging and entertaining ways to end the story line.

Having reread that post by my friend, having reread the post I wrote, I have to admit I’m experiencing some shame about how I’ve been feeling.

The shame comes from the fact that this life I’ve been lamenting is pretty darn spectacular. I have an incredible husband who is kind, supportive, caring, carries more than his weight at home, is a rock star dad, an amazing provider, and the best friend I’ve ever had. I have two awe inspiring little girls who never fail to amaze me with their wit, wisdom, and senses of humor. We live in a gorgeous home in a wonderful town. The kids go to a great school where they are both thriving and growing in every way possible. And me? Well, I get to do what I love. I have space to write and time to do it in. I have the opportunity to do whatever I want career-wise. I’m blessed beyond imagining.

So, I’m not a high powered ad exec in a big city.
So I don’t have the four kids I always thought I’d have.
So I don’t get to travel around the world as much as I always imagined I would.
So I don’t live as close to my family as I’d like.
So we have to deal with health issues we never envisioned.
So I live in a place where it’s hard for people to stay and have friends scattered around the globe.

So what?

I have everything I need. I have a life. This life. And I should be grateful this is the life I get to live. It really is pretty darn awesome and I’m so very lucky it’s mine.