Employment Chronicles: Two-Month Brain Dump

Just made it through my second month as a digital marketing content writer after two decades in journalism, and February 2019 was as eventful as any sporting event I covered in the old gig. Let’s recap:

I started dressing myself in something other than athletic gear, thanks to my subscription to Trunk Club Women and a closet full of dust-collecting staples from the early aughts that still work – maybe because I’ve ballooned up to my blissfully ignorant college-era weight, but that’s a topic for another blog.

I continued my love of snark, via my coworker’s desk calendar, and my love of fresh air and movement. I checked in with The Daily Bitch every morning and took lunchtime walks along the Delaware River outside my office in sun, rain, snow, whatever, just to clear my brain – and listen to “The Midday Midway” on The Score, my beloved Chicago sports radio station.

I used to work almost exclusively outdoors, and a combination of desk-bound office life and dreary winter has made my lunch walks so vital to keeping my sanity. Or, attempting to…

On Super Bowl Monday, I found out the entire newspaper video department I spent six years helping to build, pouring out my sweat shooting high school football camps and American Legion baseball games and filming Game On’s “On Campus” episodes on 100-degree days at Bensalem, William Tennent, Quakertown High, etc., was axed by the corporation that bought our company back in 2017.

I took a buyout back in September when buyouts were offered because I sensed this was coming, but for some reason, the finality of it hit hard. Whatever the universe was trying to tell me, I heard: “Your old life doesn’t exist anymore. You’d f*cking better make something of this new life!” Knowing my current job – entry level, in a department full of 20-somethings just starting out – was the only one offered to me in a four-month search now weighs especially heavy on my mind. I don’t take pleasure in knowing I got out of journalism as it continued to crash, and luckily found something else. It scares me.

The honeymoon phase of the new job came not so much to a screeching halt, but more of a slow, dull, sad fade. I’ve never worked 8 to 5 in an environment quite like this one, never had to wake up at 4:30 every morning, 5 days a week, week after week, and force myself to work out, cook and pack my food, make myself look presentable and then commute in traffic, sit in a chair all day and bend and twist my brain in so many different directions, then do it all again the next day.

I haven’t felt like such a fish out of water, both because of my age and my lack of experience in this field, since I walked on to the softball team at Northwestern in f*cking 1996. My sense of identity hasn’t been this weak and my confidence this low since…well, since I took that cashier job at Shady Brook Farm last fall, so I’m on a really great streak here.

A few days, recently, while driving to work, I felt overcome with hopelessness. I burst out crying. It’s happened before at various stages of my life. I get bogged down in the daily grind and can’t see any proverbial light at the end of my tunnel. Can’t see how it’s going to get easier, better.

I still showed up at work those days, still did the work to the best of my ability, but boy, didn’t it take every ounce of willpower I could muster.

I pissed off the boss because I had a meltdown over one particularly challenging assignment. We won’t go into specifics except to say, “stress management techniques” comes up in my recent Google search history.  Other than managing depression, learning to stay cool when I feel overwhelmed will be a project in perpetuity.

I broke my company-issued computer by spilling water on the keyboard. I set off the office burglar alarm by coming in too early. This all happened in the last week, just as I was beginning to pull out of my “crying on the commute” phase. Nice work, Jen.

I started interacting with people more, attending training sessions with other departments to learn more about our business, and sitting in on strategy meetings for new and existing clients. I’m so impressed by all my coworkers’ knowledge of the digital landscape, thankful for what they’re teaching me, and excited about how I can contribute to what we do going forward.

…Damn, that sounded pretty marketing-y, didn’t it? I actually mean it, though. Our role as marketers is to help clients grow their businesses and make more money, which in turn earns money for our company. My role as a journalist was to tell good stories…but how to make money doing it was the big dilemma. How to keep a job doing it was a big dilemma. I’m excited about my new field because there’s clear opportunity to make a living.

I am not even sure what my future holds, or what my future is with this company, but I know there is a future in marketing if I continue to learn and stretch out of my comfort zone.

I eventually heard “Good job” from my editors regarding two of my most stressful assignments. The clients approved of my work, even liked it! I responded with, “Really?!?” as if someone told me I won the lottery by some stroke of once-in-a-lifetime luck. Gotta work on the confidence. Gotta work on the damn inferiority complex and the recurring, crippling fear of failure. If I don’t use this job as an opportunity to break old patterns completely, then I really will have failed.

For now, I’m just glad to be concluding this month on a high note. I realize that there’s real value in continuing to get up, to dress yourself, to show up, to keep writing, keep laughing, keep walking through all conditions, and when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, trudging along with blind faith anyway.

If I’m confident in anything, after all my years on this Earth, all my moves to different areas and job transitions and new beginnings, it’s my ability to do that.




1 thought on “Employment Chronicles: Two-Month Brain Dump”

  1. Since I left my last newspaper job more than 4 years ago, I’ve been freelancing (and taking care of ill family members). The things you mention — having a set schedule, dressing appropriately, lacking confidence — and the things you don’t — arguing with a boss and coworkers as if I’m still in a newsroom, not to mention watching my language — are exactly the things that make me nervous about finding a real job!


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