|Yeah, how I felt after the call.|
I've never thought I lived my life in terms of winners and losers, but for the past 10 years I have felt like the harder I have worked, the more likely I am to finish second best. I'm in education, but in education policy, not direct teaching or administration in schools. Anything policy related seems to reward young and hungry to make a mark (regardless if really making a difference), and for the first 18 years or so of my career, I must have stood out as such. I was hired as a manager before 30 when on paper there should have been better candidates, and received two promotions over the next 11 years.
Then it all halted. I was second runner up to the top position, and my career, it feels like, started the downhill skid. I was now past 40, possibly perceived (as DH conjectured) by my now new boss as a threat. Any career moves needed to be lateral or higher, but I was demoted structurally through a reorganization that brought in a first class A-hole to lead operations. I made the decision to take a new external position that I thought was lateral, but turns out, was overly glorified in the posting and in recruiter conversations. Once I took it, I have learned that young and hungry have the clout. You either come brand new to the organization as a manager or higher, or you will stay in the bowels of cubicles until you retire, unless, you start young and take every hint of an opportunity. Then, you are earmarked as the cultivated future, and managers jump through hoops to keep them happy. It is a bizarre culture in which people who came to the organization as already recognized experts, but not in a managerial role, are literally locked until they leave or retire, on the rung of the ladder they came in on.
Gosh I sound like a bitter old pill! I wrote last Monday that I had already realized I didn't get the job do to the length of time of not hearing anything. I was going to put forth renewed focus and energy on doing my job well, and potentially influencing the way work happens in our division. That still goes;I have no other option. I can't help that the official rejection stings, and I'm feeling like a worn out shoe. I'm good for kicking around in a muddy garden pulling weeds, and planting flowers. But when time comes for the dance, I'll be put aside in a corner while the fresh little kitten heels come out along with the flowers I planted and cared for being carried in a bouquet. I hate that I've tried to make my career not matter, but it still does, a lot. Second feels pretty sad.