ME and the Working Woman's Dilemma

I started this blog as a way to get back to something I love, and as a way to separate myself from the daily grind of working a job I don't love so much.

In two short months it's been a balm; it's helping me rediscover the person I am, the views I hold, the things that amaze me, the people and activities I love.  It's making me focus on the things I love about 'me', the things I love about the 'ME'.

It's focusing my thoughts on the positive, moving me away from negativity, anger and the jealousy that have surreptitiously crept their way into my life over the past few years.

Yes, negativity, anger and jealousy; I confess.  Three states that were foreign to me my entire life had suddenly become the force driving my day.

Negativity about the job, about the weather, about the ME, about me.  Jealously eyeing the expat wives who step out of their SUV's to pick up their kids on the school run after a day of working out, socializing, and going to the local salon.  Anger at not being able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.  Anger at having her nanny be the one who gets to kiss and hug her as she puts her on the bus each day.  Anger at the fact that about 80% of the expat women I know and am friends with don't get me or my issues because they are not in the workforce and have a whole set of separate issues to deal with.  Anger that Wednesday night drinks with the girls is out because there's just no way I can fit in dinner, and homework, and a workout, phone calls to Canada, baths and drinks and still manage to wake up at 4:00 the next morning to get into work on time.  Anger at being so far away from my parents who are ill.  Anger at having to go to a job I hate five days a week.  Anger at feeling guilty about taking an hour out of my workday to go to a school concert.  But mostly, anger at being angry.

Thankfully, I seem to be moving away from the negativity.  I find myself looking for reasons to enjoy my life despite my job.  I find myself seeking out the positive, telling myself that the future is sure to bring brighter days.  I am back to exercising, back to writing.  I am back to believing that something good is just around the corner.  I am back to recognizing the good things that are happening to me daily.  I actually look forward to each day. 

But I am still wobbly.  It doesn't take much to shake me.  Today was a prime example.

This afternoon, my husband and I brought our daughter and her friend to the movies.  We got them seats directly in front of us.  Two seven-year-old's pretending they were out on their own, enjoying an afternoon at the movies.  I was thoroughly enchanted by their excitement and chattering.  

As we waited for the movie to start, a woman in the row behind us called out to another seated four seats down from us.  "Congratulations on the new job!"  The recipient of praise was obviously thrilled, excited with her new prospects, and chatted about these for a bit.  I felt a twinge of envy then; envy at the thrill that comes with a new, challenging professional opportunity.  Envy at that true, sincere appreciation.  

Then the woman behind us said, "Yes, well I resigned today.  After six years of dealing with poor management and grief, I thought it was time to say goodbye.  I've got one month left to work, then I'm going to take a bit of time for myself, and figure out where I go from there."  

That's when the jealousy hit full force.  It was back.  And as I listened to the conversation unfold, I found myself flooded with all three thunderous states.  Negativity, anger and jealousy, all rolled into one.  That woman was me in the ME.  For another month.  Then she would be FREE.

The negative thoughts thundered in.  Why couldn't that be me handing in my resignation?  What wouldn't I give to just step away.  Why can't I just muster the courage to get it over and done with?  Why do I feel the need to hold down this job that brings me such grief?  Is the money really worth it?  Would the gap on my resume really cost me that much?  Why do I stay?  Is it the paycheck?  Is it for my husband?  Is it to get that much faster the hell out of Dodge?  Is it purely for pride?  So I can say that I'm a career woman?  Surely it is not to make me a better person, a better mother, a better woman, a better wife.  It's not to climb a career ladder ... I hit the glass ceiling the moment I walked in the door.

I admit it simmered for a bit, likely spurred on by the fact that the movie was really lame (the kids loved it though).  

But then it dawned on me.  I'm not alone!  There are other women just like me here in the ME.  Expat wives and moms who are working in the ME and not finding it so great.  I am not alone!  My dilemma is shared by other women in similar situations; wives, moms, trying to keep it all together while holding down a job they loathe.  For the money, for their family, for their pride, ... no matter the justification, they are out there, doing it.  Bringing in the dosh, organizing their household, rushing to make school pick-up on time.  Frustrated at forgetting playdates, angry about the meeting that made them late for a swim meet, guilty of buying a store-bought costume for the school concert, envious of their neighbor's meticulously manicured nails.  

I am not the only wife/mother in the ME working a full-time job.  I am not the only woman in the ME who struggles to find time to get her roots dyed, to sort out the messy room, to help with homework without losing her mind from sheer frustration and exhaustion.  I am not the only mom who rushes from the office every day to turn up exactly three minutes after the school bell.  I am not the only wife who comes home exhausted the last day of the week, disappointed in herself that she can't find the energy to put on her heels and go out dancing with the man she loves to show him just how much he means to her.  I am not alone.

And, sadly, I found comfort in that.  And I resolved to get over it.  For today.  Just get over it.  So I don't like my job.  That puts me on equal footing with more than half of working professionals according to a recent survey carried out by Accenture (click to see survey results).  And 75% of those respondents have no plans to move on.  So I'm not alone.  Get over it.  It's just ME and the Working Woman's Dilemma.  Pull up my big girl panties, take a breath.  Let go of the negativity.  Carry on.

 ME and the Working Woman's Dilemna

ME and the Working Woman's Dilemna