Oooh, 2019.

2019. Jeez oh man. I realize that the way us humans divide time doesn’t really mean anything, and if you’re having a bad year, the year ending certainly doesn’t mean you actually get to start fresh, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to…well, start fresh.

I’m sure I’m being a bit melodramatic, but 2019 was the worst year I can remember in a long time. I’ve said many times before that at least since moving to Delaware, each year has been better than the last, and that’s been true…until 2019. This last year was a real stinker.

A quick note – I’m writing this strictly for my own records, as kind of a year-end journaling activity. The state of the world is by no means lost on me – things are scary, bleak, and incredibly upsetting. That said, I’m only focusing on my own little world here – but I do not in any way intend to imply that my problems even come close to the problems the world is facing as a whole.

I know it’s not fair to claim that the ENTIRE YEAR was bad. There were plenty of good – no, great – moments. We went on an amazing cruise! I finally got a new job – the position I’d considered to be “my dream job” for several years! I got to visit my family multiple times, and stayed in a gorgeous new hotel on the lake each time! We learned A LOT. There was plenty of good folded in to what felt like a heavy, stressful bummer of a year.

It started in January – I had been told towards the end of 2018 that a new position was being created for me at work. This was a long time coming – I had been kind of stagnant in my role for at least a couple of years, and had been told multiple times by multiple people that I was working above my level, but was essentially told to sit tight because “something good was coming.” So I sat tight, was told point blank that I was being given a new role that was being created specifically for me…and then that role was given to someone else. So that was disappointing. I was told that it had nothing to do with me and was all due to office politics, but this started a several month cycle of roles (mostly ones that I didn’t really want, if I’m being honest) being dangled in front of me, and then snatched away. When I’d ask for feedback for what I could do better to succeed in the future, I was given nothing but positive lip-service, and claims that my rejection had nothing to do with me.

Finally, around springtime, a role that I had applied for in the summer of 2018 and hadn’t gotten opened up again, and the hiring manager sought me out to tell me it was more or less mine if I wanted it. This was amazing news – this role was in Marketing, where I had wanted to move for years, so I jumped at the opportunity. And it’s an amazing gig with even more amazing flexibility. The people I work with are great, leadership is great, there’s tons of room for advancement, and I’m learning so, so much. But it’s also a VERY STRESSFUL ROLE, particularly the specific project I’m working on (it’s a longterm project, with no end in sight), and I’ve been experiencing crushing imposter syndrome since I’ve started. My accomplishments feel amazing, but are almost immediately followed by various setbacks – some avoidable, some not. Training was very minimal, and I have zero experience. I constantly feel like I’m on the precipice of failing. I’m hoping this will get better over time, but I’m living in an almost constant state of panic. So that’s the career-related part of what made 2019 rough.

On to the various…I was going to say disasters, but that’s definitely melodramatic. Let’s just say “incidents.” In February (Valentine’s day, actually), right smack in the middle of my rejection cycle at work, I had a very scary warning light come on in my car. It was one of those bright red “GO TO THE DEALERSHIP IMMEDIATELY DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT $200” lights. So I go to the dealership, and they don’t know what’s wrong. Of course I drive a VW, and of course it’s the dealership, so of course they need to run multiple diagnostic tests and order parts that my car may or may not need, which cost a fortune. I have absolutely no doubt that they did their best – I don’t feel like I was bamboozled or that they were being shady in order to charge me more – but after just under $1K in tests and unnecessary parts (most of the bill was for tests, which is bonkers), they discovered that the only issue was that, during my last oil change, an off-brand oil filter had been used, and it was all mangled up and needed replaced. I JUST NEEDED AN OIL CHANGE.  Now, in the grand scheme of things, ~$1K isn’t that big of a deal, and it’s not lost on me how fortunate I am to be able to say that. However, I was already not in a great mental place at the time, so I had a bit of a breakdown (especially during the time where I didn’t know what was wrong, and was picturing a $10K repair or something).

So then, the house. Our downstairs toilet had had a relatively minor leak for a while – the floor would often be wet, but it was nothing that felt like an emergency. Sometime during the year (probably around March), it had started to get worse, so we decided to take action. I don’t remember the order of events, but long story short, we found out that there was massive damage to our floors including a buttload of mold, and when we had an insurance adjuster come out, he (very regretfully – seriously, I thought the guy was going to cry) told us that ZERO PERCENT of the damage was covered by insurance, because it was “slow damage.” Basically, we suck at life and should’ve fixed it right away, but because we didn’t, we were now solely responsible for what would probably end up ACTUALLY being $10K in repairs. The mold ended up not being toxic THANK GOD, and we were able to stop the spread of it using industrial fans and dehumidifiers for several weeks, but we ended up needing to replace the toilet (which wasn’t a big deal, it needed to be replaced anyway), and will need to completely rip out and replace that bathroom’s floor at some point before we sell the house. So that wasn’t great, AND it was 100% our own fault, which felt very shitty. I guess at least it was a learning experience.

And then there was the OTHER water leak. I’m still not totally clear on how this happened, but in I think February, our water bill was $500. It’s normally like $30. I alerted Jeff, and we found out that our outdoor faucet had been running since…I don’t know, a long time. We think that the lines had frozen at some point during the winter, but then we had a warm snap and they unfroze, causing a huge leak. This was easily fixed by turning the water off, but it ended up costing us two months of $500 water bills. Another financial loss caused by being big stupid idiot home owners.

I realize that everything so far (other than my career stuff) has relatively minor financial setbacks caused by our own stupidity, and that our privilege is glaringly obvious in that we were able to deal with all of this stuff without issue. And that’s totally valid, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t stressful to deal with, and it felt like issue after issue after issue. Just please know that I do recognize how fortunate I am, and I definitely realize that so many people have it so much worse.

Anyway, moving on to what was actually the worst part of what was already an exhausting year…poor Jeffrey’s health. Around mid-year, Jeff decided to follow up on a few (what he thought were) minor health issues (as a sidebar, this is the exact reason I’m terrified of going to the doctor – you go in for something you think isn’t a big deal, and pandora’s box opens and suddenly you’re on death’s door. Not that Jeff is or was on death’s door, and I know this is an idiotic fear…moving on). So Jeff goes to his GP for what was initially ongoing stomach issues – he’s had various gastrointestinal issues since I’ve met him, and they’ve never been able to figure out what’s wrong. And that part didn’t change – after exhaustive testing (including two endoscopies, and various ultrasounds and CT scans), they still haven’t found anything wrong with him, but he’s continued to have symptoms (mostly bloating/discomfort) on and off for over 10 years. He was on Accutane as a teenager, and I blame that.

So he had to have a ton of tests done on his stomach which was unpleasant and stressful (mostly to me, being the basket case that I am), but on that first appointment, he also casually mentioned to his GP that his hip had kinda been hurting for a couple weeks. Now, we were almost 100% convinced that this was due to his sleeping situation – we had switched out our mattress with the guest room’s crappy memory foam mattress over a year ago (don’t ask me why). Also, our bed had broken several months prior and we couldn’t be bothered to buy a new one, so we had jankily fixed it, and it had been crooked/sagging in the center since it had broken. His GP agreed that it was likely due to poor sleeping conditions, but ordered a x-ray just to be safe. In the meantime, we also finally replaced our bed.

So then the x-ray came back (by this time, it was mid-summerish and his hip hadn’t stopped hurting despite the new bed), and the results were more or less “you’re probably fine, but there’s a tiny chance you could have this condition called avascular necrosis (or AVN), so we’re sending you for an MRI.”

So he gets the MRI, and low and behold…he does, in fact, have AVN. AVN is a rare condition in which the blood flow to the hip is cut off, causing the bone to die. It causes pain that progresses with varying speed which causes mobility problems, and can eventually lead to your leg completely giving out, potentially causing your femur to break. They don’t know what causes it, and there’s no cure – it eventually requires a full hip replacement. He was diagnosed with this condition in both hips, and they initially tried to wait it out (he was told to use crutches for a few months, and when that didn’t help they recommended him to take it easy to see if his inflammation reduced), but his pain got worse instead of better, and he decided to have his right hip replaced before the end of the year (his left hip is still holding strong for now, fingers crossed).

So, on top of everything else that had already occurred/was already occurring, this whole ordeal with Jeff’s hip was, of course, extremely upsetting. He felt awful because he felt broken – he couldn’t walk long distances, and when he did walk, he had a severe limp. I just wanted him to feel better, but was also terrified about the surgery – even though his surgeon is extremely talented and did a lot to assuage our fears, it’s major surgery and that’s scary. But the surgery went perfectly, and now, almost exactly a month post-op, Jeff is well on his way to complete recovery. He’s still limping, but he doesn’t even need a cane anymore – the recovery time has been shockingly quick. Of course, this also cost thousands of dollars…by fitting the surgery in before the end of the year, the cost was much less than it would’ve been otherwise (due to the ridiculous amount of tests/scans he had throughout the year, Jeff ended up hitting his out of pocket max), but all in all it ended up being a pretty expensive year. Of course it was all worth it to have Jeff healthy and confident there’s nothing lurking below the surface.

So! 2019 was a year. Although I know the idea is in and of itself pretty dumb, I’m still confident that 2020 will be better. I’m doing everything I can to lessen my stress at work (although if I’m being completely honest, I think a lot of that is unavoidable), and I’m planning on starting therapy to manage the stress I do have better. Jeff is, fingers crossed, healthy, and the surgery is behind us. (Although there’s still another one at an unknown point in the future…but hopefully it won’t be this year. And even so, at least we know what to expect now.)

I do have a few minor resolutions: although I’ve tried and failed before, I want to regulate my sleep schedule and start waking up earlier. I’d like to go to bed and wake up at a relatively similar time throughout the whole week including weekends, give or take an hour or so at night and a half hour in the morning. This is the year I’ll make it happen! I’d like to reduce impulse purchases, and spend more money on experiences and less on things. And, on a related note, I’d like to learn to stress less about money. We’re comfortable and extremely fortunate to earn what we do, and I stress way more than is necessary about the amount of money we have or do not have in the bank. We have enough to cover emergencies and are regularly saving, so I want to worry less about the state of our finances, give back more, and be less materialistic. Having grown up without a lot of money I struggle with scarcity mindset, and I’d like to try to correct that way of thinking.

That’s about all I have to say for now – I write these (particularly this year’s post) not to dwell on the negatives of the year (or brag about the positives), but so that I’ll be able to look back and remember (and laugh!) I’m excited to see what 2020 holds!

 

 

On liking your job

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Bouquet I made during a company-sponsored networking event.

I’ve never been what I’d call an ambitious person. I’ve always had very good work ethic and it’s always been important to me that I excel in whatever I do, but I’ve never really had much in the way of career goals, or desired to “work my way to the top.” As shameful as it can feel these days, I’ve always felt that I’d be 100% fine with being a homemaker. But then again…I’ve always hated my job. Until recently.

To be fair, I didn’t hate the position I worked directly before my current position (I was previously responding to written communication from customers at a large bank, and I’m now working in social media for the same company). The position provided a good deal of freedom and flexibility (which is probably number one on my list of priorities), but it was pretty unfulfilling and tedious. I wouldn’t say that I’m working my dream job now…honestly, I’m not 100% sure that exists for me…but I also don’t dread going to work in the morning. My current position still provides a huge amount of freedom and autonomy, but it also requires a good amount of creativity and forces me out of my professional comfort zone on a regular basis.

It’s a weird feeling for me not to detest my job. Ever since I decided I wanted a family, I had dreamed of the day when my husband (still feels weird to say that!) would earn enough money to allow me to stay home with our hypothetical children…but now, I can see a future in which I continue to work after starting a family (maybe part-time, maybe full), a future in which we can provide our children a lifetime of experiences I never had growing up, a future in which our family is able to travel and see the world. Or, who knows – if children aren’t in the cards for us, a future in which my husband and I embark on great adventures together. I’ve realized that I value time at home so much more when I’m out and about all day, and while I always imagined myself running around once we have kids, I think I’d probably go a little stir-crazy being a full-time stay-at-home mom. I know that the women I know who stay home pretty much unanimously say that being a stay-at-home mom is a way harder job then whatever they previously did was, and I believe it.

Not only do I not hate the actual work I do, but my company’s perks are so good that it’s almost literally impossible to leave. We get a crazy amount of paid time off each year (with the option to buy more during benefit enrollment), our 401K match is pretty great, we have an employee stock purchase program that comes with a 15% discount off of our company’s stock, and they just improved our already above average family leave program – women now get EIGHTEEN WEEKS fully paid maternity leave with the option to take additional time either unpaid or using saved paid time off, and men get eight weeks with the option to split the time however they choose (my husband works for the same company, so that’s major). We get free, 100% confidential career counseling by a third party company who will help you achieve your goals either within our company or elsewhere. My position allows me to work from home basically whenever I choose within reason, and I pretty much make my own schedule.

I don’t know what the future holds, but for now it feels great not to spend all of Sunday with a sense of dread knowing that I have to go back to a job that I hate on Monday. I don’t think I’ll ever be a workaholic, and work-life balance will probably always be the most important aspect of my career for me, but it feels pretty damn good not to be miserable with my career (or lack thereof). I guess what I intended this to be is a professional “it gets better.” If you work hard, stay positive, and maintain a good attitude, you can end up with a career that doesn’t make to want to cry every Sunday evening.  Thumbs up.