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March 8, 2019

Our education system is such that we never spend more than a few years in one place for most of our formative years. The longest I spent at one institution was elementary school - seven years from kindergarten through grade 6. For someone who goes through a lot of education, this extends into the mid-30s. So for my entire adult life, I’ve never been in one place more than 5 years. As a result, it was a little daunting to come into my “grown-up” job expecting that this be for the rest of my career. I know most jobs don’t have such perks, and most adults don’t end up doing this, but here I am. It’s been 6.5 years since I took this job, and I’m acutely feeling how this is the longest I’ve been somewhere in a long time.

In my first few years, things were really great. I was so happy to be here. I remember this. This was my dream job, and I was doing well in the role. My commute was negligible. My personal life thriving. Things were going well.

But over the years, there has been an erosion. My personal life is still going well. My commute is more irritating, but still much better than most. I appreciate that. But there has been erosion at work. Not to the point of wanting to leave, but enough to set off warning bells for a need for something to change.

The previous post is part of it. People at work not celebrating my life milestones, and then going ahead to celebrate everyone else’s milestones, just keeps reminding me over and over how much work doesn’t care about me as a person. Salaries have been basically stagnant all these years, and at one point actually decreased, and so considering inflation, I’m not being remunerated any better than when I joined. Possibly worse. (OK just calculated on a salary inflation calculator, and definitely worse.) Considering the steady increase in price for absolutely everything, this is a measurable way where I can once again be reminded how work doesn’t care about me as a person. And more recently, the process is in motion to tear down the building where my office is, and build a new one. They already know the new building won’t have enough space for everyone. So instead of thinking how they can increase the amount of space, they are thinking of how they can get away with not giving people offices.

So not only do they not care about my life outside of work, how much I’m being remunerated for the work I do, but also whether or not I will want to be at work. They do, however, remember to insist on jumping through a multitude of hurdles from various levels of administration to prove that I’m still doing enough work. Several times a year. So much so that I feel like I’m filling out forms in different formats saying the same information about what work I’ve done. And then they come back and tell me I’m “meeting expectations” or maybe scoring at whatever percentile compared to everyone else. Like it’s some kind of ultimate privilege to sacrifice my life, time, and happiness to measuring up to their predefined metrics.

All these different components have eroded my work satisfaction over the years. Someone recently pointed out to me that career angst is common in this stage of my life. Maybe if I was near retirement, I wouldn’t care, because the end was in sight. Maybe if I’m still starry eyed from getting the job at all, I wouldn’t care, because it all would seem so great still. So I suppose my mid-career stage does have some role to play. But only because I’m still in a place where all these indecencies still matter to me. And from where I am, I can’t see how to make this better.