For the second time in two years, I found myself cleaning out my desk this week.
The first time, I was completely stunned. I didn't see it coming at all. I thought I was actually making good progress and was looking forward to discussing next year's goals, and instead, I was turning in my keys.
But this time...
This time, I smelled it coming. I had a really lousy week the previous week, and I knew my boss wasn't happy with me. I expected that we would have a stern conversation sometime this week. But when I walked in, and the head honcho was also sitting there, I knew things were going down.
I've definitely had some issues at work. A couple of deadlines that I was chasing pretty furiously. I was seeing this week as the week when I would prove my worth again, demonstrate again that I was the person they wanted in this position. They were taking a chance hiring me, and I wanted so badly to prove that the gamble was worth it. It WAS worth it - I learned a tremendous amount, I did some fantastic work, and I'm proud of what I did.
But I slipped. I let my anxiety and my fear of failure get the best of me, started getting sloppy on collecting information. Deadlines started creeping closer and closer. I started fibbing to my supervisor about where I was on projects. There's a thing that happens when you start falling behind and the workload never stops. You keep thinking you'll get to a spot where you can catch up, some quiet week. You think you'll work a few evenings, maybe some time on the weekend to catch up. You keep thinking that you'll catch up sometime down the road, and then the end of the road happens.
Could I have stopped this? Maybe. Did I see this coming in time? I don't think so. By the time I sensed trouble, it was already too late. Maybe I should have visited the therapist more often. Maybe I should have worked more on the weekend. Maybe ... maybe ... maybe ...
And then again, maybe it was inevitable. I was being brought in as an entry-level employee, doing way advanced-level work. Every fundraising job right now is being expected to overperform in a terrible economy; there's less money out there, but we're all being to find every available dollar. I was brought in as a rookie who was expected to perform like a ten-year veteran, and when I couldn't keep up with the frantic pace being set, I got the axe. Was it my fault for not being able to keep running, or their fault for pushing me too hard?
It doesn't matter now. What matters now is moving on. I've got to move onto another job, and this job search is going to be a little more complicated than the last one. But I'm feeling oddly relieved by this. Sure, I'm back on unemployment, and sure, I hate having to start the search process all over again. But maybe it's time to find a job that's actually at my level. This might be a genuine case where the last job wasn't a good fit, and I can use this to really find something that really matches where I'm at.
I'm feeling good about this, people. Really. If I got through the last search in the dead of the recession, I can get through this one.