Friday, 22 June 2012

Doing Some of it Over Again

My wife and daughter now roll their eyes when I say "If I had it to do all over again, I'd...[INSERT ANY OL' OCCUPATION]" with my daughter adding, "'d do anything but be a public servant!"   This sounds like unhealthy regret on my part and it sort of is, but not completely. 

I mostly enjoyed my B.A. and really had fun doing my M.A., and I made some great friends in both.  Most importantly, I met my wife and we had our beautiful little Bean and I couldn't imagine life without them.  I wouldn't change any of that.  Plus, I did like the first few years of my public service career, but then, something changed, either in the public service or in me, and I became miserable.

The work seemed futile:

  • toiling away for what seemed like little effect; 
  • working to meet bureaucratic requirements that served only the bureaucratic machine, not the public;
  • internecine turf wars;
  • managers for whom every request, every demand were equally urgent (not to say important, very little of the work is that);
  • working with, for and against a critical mass of, if you'll forgive the vulgarity, assholes  (not -everyone, a lot of fine people in the public service, but there just enough of the former around to make it unpleasant);
  • the public thinking all public servants are overpaid and underworked;
  • no respect from the politicians we serve;
  • a corporate culture that abhors creativity and stamps out personal initiative;
I could go on, but suffice to say that going to work every day began to wear me down.  Then one day, after months in one particular job where we lost several senior analysts and had a boss that couldn't say no to more work, who gave inconsistent attention to the various files, micromanaging some and demanding we be more proactive on others, I finally closed my office door and broke down crying.  Later that day, I was on extended sick leave and wouldn't return to work for six years.

Finally, I returned to a new job in a department I had worked at years before.  I thought I was ready having finally overcome my depression a couple of years before.  I swore to myself I would never fall victim to depression again.  Alas, two and half months in, I sat in my cubicle weeping again, unable to think or do anything.  I am still a trembling mess.  I still have a hard time with what may be called my "executive functioning".  I have hard time organizing my day if I have more than two things to do.  Writing this blog has become a bit easier over the months, but I wanted to write about a number of issues, researching and analysing them, but I have a hard time organizing myself to do anything, so I'm stuck writing about trivialities.

All of this is very frustrating.  I have always been a moderate to high achiever at school and at work, and now I feel, well, not very high achieving.  I know work has been only a part of the problem, but it has been a significant part.  And that leaves me wishing that I could keep the good things I have, but have chosen a different field of study - or a different career path.

Stay tuned and I will share what I might choose if I had to do it all over again.

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