Tuesday, October 15, 2019

On getting emotionally invested in the job

I started a new job just over six months ago. And it's a great job - it's still in the space I'm passionate about, adjacent to what I used to do and loved doing, but different enough that I'm learning and getting to do entirely new things, in a new but adjacent industry.

But when you change jobs after five years, turns out it's a lot weirder than I had expected. By the time I left my previous job, I was pretty much the historian of the team. I knew how everything worked, I knew why things worked the way they did, I knew why certain decisions had been taken, and I knew my products inside out - especially since I launched some of them during my time there. In this job, I had to learn everything from scratch - the products, the company, the industry, the history and context, and even the mundane, like how the blessed printers work*.

My new coworkers have been incredibly patient though, and I suppose it helped that my boss and my boss's boss both joined within the last year too. I was told early on to be patient with myself, and to expect it to take six months to ramp up. And I had known coming into this role that it was going to be a somewhat ambiguous role, given that it didn't exist before I came in. But even though I was getting positive feedback, I still found myself getting antsy by the three-month mark - that I wasn't doing enough, or that I didn't know enough.

The other thing that was bothering me was that I didn't feel emotionally invested enough in the job, which is something I've always needed in a job, or even project, to be any good at it. I was still paying more attention to news from my old industry. I was still smiling at call outs to my old products, not my new team's products. And I was having major FOMO when I heard my team mates talk about their projects - because they do what I used to do, and I miss those specific types of projects sometimes.

But most of all, I was not getting worked up about anything to do with the job. I wasn't rolling my eyes at anything. I wasn't having to grin sheepishly because people could look at my face and know what I was thinking, because I wasn't thinking anything mean about anyone.

In short, I was stressing about not stressing about my job.

I whined about this to a couple of people - my father just laughed, and my friend D politely asked if this could be a sign of maturity. I laughed at her question, because really, have you met me?

And then, about a month ago, I realised I was feeling more confident about what I was doing. I was speaking up more. I was responding to questions more easily. And then came the flipping of the switch - I was on a conference call with someone I have most definitely formed opinions about, and I realised I was rolling my eyes as this person was speaking.

And let's just say the eye rolling has not stopped since. And I was in a meeting earlier this week, where someone said something, I nodded and said "you bet", and they looked at my face and burst out laughing. So I think the facial expressions have started as well.

And so, while I'm not entirely sure I'm still fully ramped up or emotionally invested, I know I'm getting there. And I think I'm going to continue to live up to my reputation of being a champion eye roller**.

*Why I can't get my default setting to be two-sided printing is beyond me, and it is also driving me crazy that I'm the only person here who uses that setting. Stop killing more trees than you have to, people.

** It continues to both baffle and amuse me that friends from different walks of life, who have never met and possibly don't even know of each other's existence, send me whatever eye-rolling related memes they come across, because apparently anyone who loves associates these memes with me. This is not unwarranted, sure, but it is strange.