The Pits and Troughs of Self-Esteem

I’ve referenced over a couple of recent posts that February was a bit of an emotional blur, partly to do with work stuff and partly to do with being sick. Although I didn’t really get passed up for a promotion (and it’s not like I’ve made any particular effort to deserve one besides the normal escalation of my job over three years), it still felt like a slight that someone newer than me got secretly promoted after I’d asked about it and been turned down. Then there was the whole episode of getting back in touch with some random colleague from my old company and the possibility that there might be a place for me back there, but then that dragged up all the old feelings over the things that happened there and that was equally upsetting! I have been so angry about things and also just hating this general feeling of being under-valued (large corporations are so good at that!) Like it or not, justified or not, all of those episodes have been big knocks to my self-esteem and when it happened at my old job I wasn’t really aware of what was happening or how to counteract it, but instead let it put me in a downward spiral that lasted for maybe a couple of years.

One day when I was feeling particularly bad about it I read a blog post or article (I think it was) which quite simply said, if something about your life is getting you down, do something to change it. Looking back on it now, the reason this past week has felt so victorious is because I’ve been (subconsciously) taking steps and actively doing the things that will re-build my self-esteem.

First, Work. At first it was just enough to have the faint glimmer of a job at my old company back. Then the more I thought about it, the more dissatisfaction I found I had about my current job, so at first I took baby steps just to look at what other jobs were out there. I thought about what kind of job I would be willing to leave this job for, what kind of advantages it would have to have – less travel, more money, more interest, a higher level, a different kind of culture. I applied for one close to home, just on the off-chance – one that had some benefits – and then forgot about it. I got called by a few agencies and had a couple of constructive conversations in Japanese. The ideas and job prospects continue to flow or at least trickle my way. I’m not desperate to leave, or ready for any big changes right away, but having other doors open a chink, and being well-appraised by others outside my own company, has been good for the self-esteem. It would feel good to leave this place for something better, and imagining that from time to time has lifted my spirits.

The thing about jobs is that I would be pretty-much guaranteed to have to go back full-time and lose my extra day off. I’m sure this would be very difficult at first – I would have much less time for the things I love to do and much less of a buffer around my work-week to fit in the logistics. It might actually work better if I got a local job with no travel, but those jobs are harder to come by. It would definitely change things for me and mean I could fit in less, time-wise, of the things I love and enjoy and am trying to achieve outside of work. I started thinking about what the point is of having my extra day off – yes it’s for music, but it’s also for sanity: partly the sanity of working towards something I actually WANT to do in the hope of escaping office work forever, and partly just having more time to myself and more time to sort things out. In some ways I see this as a temporary thing – if I use the extra time now to lose weight, get fit, change my lifestyle, and get the kind of music skills ad enough songs under my belt to allow me to start gigging, there wouldn’t necessarily be any reason why I couldn’t work full time and do music, especially if I had flexible hours. Both losing weight and raising my game musically are things I can achieve in a couple of years and won’t definitely need this much time for the rest of my life.

And in some ways that kind of life DOES appeal to me. Part of me WANTS to be able to do it all – have a proper full-time career and be considered an equal with my colleagues, and also have a successful music career on the side. It would be tiring, but maybe I do have the capacity to do both. And maybe taking the soft option to work less is a bit of a thorn in my side, makes me feel less capable than I should? Maybe a full-time job (especially with a jump in pay) would increase my self-esteem? Being able to provide for my family unit and buy our own property, those are things that would help.

Whichever way I look at it, the important thing for me is this: to make the most of the extra days off while I have them, and do everything I can to achieve these health and music goals this year. That would leave me the option to move next year without massively derailing everything I’ve worked for. Changing mid-way through – well that sounds dodgy to me. But maybe in the long term the answer is not as straightforward as “being a singer” – and maybe that route will never set me free financially. Maybe I need to be a successful professional as well? And maybe all this time I’ve been waiting/hoping desperately for one to be over so I could start the other without realising that I had the capacity to do it all?

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