Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Knowing The Difference

Humble- not proud or haughty.

Humbling- to make humble in spirit or manner.

Humiliating- extremely destructive to one's self respect or dignity.

I find that we often use words interchangeably. It's a problem created by our English teachers who insisted that we broaden our vocabularies. Demanding that we en-masse all the adjectives and adverbs we can, but never really teaching us the nuances that words have. How using one might sound close-enough but not really be correct. And, in fact, convey the wrong thinking.

Words. All words have power. Great power. And, we need to use them wisely. I love words. But, you probably know that by now. While I'm not great with numbers, words and I share quite a close working relationship. I find them fascinating.

Lately, I've struggled with my inability to find my professional power. And, while I've given up trying to replicate my former glory days in Maryland, I still struggle. More to the point, it causes friction and anxiety because money is an on-going issue.

Not to say that misery loves company, because I certainly don't want others miserable to make me feel better, but I'm fully aware that the current economic state of the country means that lots of other qualified people are about to discover what I've been dealing with for the past several years since moving here.

Which is to recommend from personal experience- don't make the mistake of self-defining by your profession. Because, once it's pulled away from you, if that's the primary way you see yourself, you'll be emotionally flattened. And, don't stay anchored to who you used to be or you'll never be at peace with the need to re-define yourself in the new world order.

Easy enough for me to say. But, I chafe at doing it. So that's itchily where I am today. Knowing I have two college degrees. Knowing that I used to be a high-powered executive. Knowing that I used to be a well regarded free-lance consultant. Knowing that no one here seems to give a damn about all that I was; my resume makes for a quick read before a quicker toss.

So now I work four hours a day for nine dollars. Because that is what a good organization is kind enough to offer. And, even this is a temporary thing; I'm filling in for a returning staff member. How I feel has absolutely nothing to do with the organization, which is a good one. It's all me that's creating the internal static. They knew when they offered it that it is far below my abilities and what I should expect from employment. But, they had the need and I was available...

It goes to prove my point, by the way....jobs are not found in the newspaper. They're found because of the people you know. In this case, Melissa has a friend who works for the organization and they were chatting and Melissa said, "Hey why not contact my Step-Mom? She'd be great for you!" And, that's how it happened.

I realize that when I'm having my internal chatter about this employment, I'm feeling angry or frustrated. It's humiliating! Is it even worth my effort for $36 a day when I used to make three times that in a billable hour?!!!! The answer is- YES.

Because their offer is genuine. It was clearly articulated. And, every day as I leave, they say, "Thank you very much! See you tomorrow." Which is a lot more than many people ever hear at their job.

The answer is- YES. Because I need to work, not just for the money but because I need to contribute to the world. And, because I have skills and talents that will fall apart if I don't do something to keep them honed.

The answer for both parties is- YES. Which requires that I work harder to let go of the self-inflicted sense of humiliation. No part of my nine dollar an hour job is extremely destructive to to my self-respect or dignity. So, feeling humiliated is self-inflicted. What a shame.

It's time for me to take a deep breath and work harder on accepting things as they are. To liberate my thinking by being grateful for what's been offered. To view my current circumstances as humbling- not humiliating. To polish my spiritual mirror; to make humble in spirit or manner. To be a professional who always delivers what my client needs regardless of the wage. If it's real, and I took the engagement, nothing less than my best is acceptable.

I could stand to eat some Humble Pie from time to time. Wonder if I can get that a la mode? It will go down easier that way.

Namaste' Till Next Time,


Eileen said...

Holly ... this piece resonates so much with where I find myself right now. I am in that "in-between" ... let go from a professional job ... waiting with eager anticipation to begin taking care of my yet to be born grandson in May. I'll be back where I started really ... I had the good fortune of being economically able to be a stay-at-home Mom for all four of our children. Charlie and I both respected the importance of that role but it's a self-confidence land mine. I grew a thick skin when in "adult" company ... the whole "And what do you do(?)" question/answer usually started the lowering of the steel door between myself and whomever asked the question and their eyes would begin to search out an escape from talking to someone who probably had nothing to interest them. I had to believe in my value because there was NO $per hour value given. I'm hoping that I'll be as lucky as you to come up with a $/hr temporary stint with some company to carry me over. My early days seem to have saved me from looking for a numerical value after a dollar sign to find my worth. It's a tough exercise, that is for sure.

melissa said...

And we're back to the ice cream, thing...does sex make it easier to eat humble pie? Or did we stop with that analogy? :)

Laugh...that's funny.

Anyway- check with Westmoreland County's IM4Q program...maybe you can do the same job as me, or even the one Zach's aiming for!
Love you...no matter what you do for a dollar. ;)

Holly said...

Actually, Melissa, it was more than funny, it was quite clever! But, I've learned to expect no less than that from my Kid!

raindrop said...

Holly, Holly, Holly,

Your inner wrangling reminds me of my wonderful niece/goddaughter. She and her husband decided to have a child four years ago and part of the "deal" was that Regina would be a stay-home mother until the child went to school. She is so frustrated...feels so unworthy and unfulfilled. Feels like she is not contributing to the household. She has a "job" for two hours a week and relishes it. I told her to go easy on herself, that she is still the valuable person she was before giving up her job. But, each person has to come to terms with their own self-worth. I don't think my gal is going to lighten up any time soon. So sad, and so unnecessary.
I wish you the best as new doors open up to you.

Holly said...

Raindrop, maybe you should invite your wonderful niece to be part of our blog community?!

Anonymous said...

The Blessed Mother taught us well.

What a lucky organization to have you in their mist.

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