I recently quit my job. I once read an anecdote about Walt Disney, who was apparently a bit of a hard-ass. When he would descend on the peons who animated his films, the whisper would come through the office: "Man is in the forest," a riff on Disney's own Bambi. It was like that in my office. When my managers came in to work, the rest of the staff would shrivel in their wake. It was almost supernatural. I developed a panicky demeanor whenever my manager came near me: lightheaded to the point of feeling faint, shaky, stomach in knots, skin breaking out. The day I quit my job, I handed in my notice and then stood in the elevator lobby taking deep whooping breaths. It was as though all the air I couldn't breathe over the last six months came at me all at once.
Walking away from my horrible workplace was the right decision. Despite my former co-workers assurances that not all offices are like that, my time at that company has left me feeling deeply mistrustful of the office vibe. I got dinged constantly: for letting a bra strap slip, for stapling incorrectly, for spending too much time on the internet despite having no actual assignments, for getting sick, for taking time off when it had already been approved, and so on. The general consensus seemed to be that I couldn't do a damned thing right, which is demoralizing at best. Not to mention false: in the areas that actually mattered, like client support and their subsequent feedback, I got great reviews.
I've always kind of been a late bloomer. Although, uh, not in the puberty area, so much? Because I was eleven when my chest started to bud, and it was pretty rough there for a little while. But in a lot of other ways, I've been at the back of the pack. I lost my virginity late, I first fell in love well after my 20th birthday - no passionate high school romances for this girl! - I graduated long after most of my friends, and, as I close in on my 28th birthday I'm still only really eligible for entry-level jobs. As I watch my "normal" friends have successful long-term relationships and celebrate promotions at work, I applaud then with a certain wistfulness: when am I going to figure my own life out?
I just erased 300 words that were basically me trying to avoid the awful, naked, needy truth: I like to write, but I am afraid. I'm afraid I'm not as good as I think I am. I'm afraid of writing to fancy magazine editors and having them laugh at my poorly designed pitch letters, or, worse, ignore them completely. I'm afraid of trying something and failing, which is the story of my life, and which is tediously tied to self-esteem, perfectionism, and fears of success. But I also really, really love doing this. I think about it all the time. I want to do it. But right now, taking a leap of faith after working in an atmosphere that subtly told me every day that having faith in myself was having faith in a loser, I'm a little gun shy.
I need a boost, a little rocket pack to get me out of these doubts. Just because my former boss made me feel like shit doesn't mean all bosses do - I've had plenty of terrific managers. And happens if I become own boss? I need to pat myself on the back for getting out of there at all, let alone with a sense of integrity still intact, and focus on trying new things. New job, new focus, new love of what I do.