on losing faith

“#EmbAmb is…loving your job but questioning the org you do it for”

The above is something that I recently wrote on our fancy new Facebook Page, and it is something I have been spending a lot of time thinking about and grappling with this past week in particular, but for the past little while more generally. I have, for a while now, wanted to write something about this, but it was only the events of the last week that finally pushed me to do so. Even now, however, as I sit in a coffee shop with pen to paper – tiny baby screaming at the table next to me – I don’t even really know what to say, where to start, or what the “end” looks like.

I guess I could start with what is easy – the things that fall into the first half of the above quote: “loving your job”. See, I generally love the work that I’m doing. I love working with our all-star teams of volunteers. I love talking about the National Campaign that I am working on. I love the amount of freedom and trust that has been placed in me by my supervisors. I also love the team of folks that I get to work with on a daily basis; I love getting up for work knowing that even if the rest of the work day is shit, seeing and interacting with that team will always be a silver lining. That is something pretty rare to have found, and not a day goes by where I am not thankful that I have.

That said. This past week has been…trying. Frustrating. Demotivating. Marked by unspoken tension and unease, and perhaps most of all, uncertainty. All of these feelings stem from some financial difficulties that the org has been experiencing over the past few months, and that culminated last week in the dismissal of two staff.

The decisions around this whole financial mess, the reasons given for those decisions, and the proposed steps forward have all resulted in a serious lack of faith in the leadership of the organization. These feelings are not entirely new, but are definitely amplified by recent events. All of this reminds me that, as I’ve said before, no one really knows what they’re doing. The result is that I am left questioning whether I want to work for the organization anymore, questioning what is/isn’t appropriate or useful to voice, and perhaps, most importantly, questioning how I can fundraise for an org I don’t entirely believe in.

Now, there is an important distinction that I feel I must make here. The work, the goal, the “mission”? Totally on board. I think our “on the ground” ventures are doing incredible things and deserve to be supported in their work. I just no longer know whether or not the org is capable of making that happen. All of these feelings are made more difficult because of my (relative) “newness”. I am one of the youngest people in the office, and have been around for the least amount of time (discounting the regular inflow of 4 month interns).

Are my feelings valid? Or do they come from a lack of context? Am I just being reactionary, and missing the bigger picture?

Do I stick around? Do what I can do to help? Grin and bear it through the awkwardness and uncertainty in hopes that things improve?

Or do I jump ship? Say peace? Truly speak my mind in some disruptive way and then leave, never to look back?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I’m also acutely aware that I depend on this work to pay the bills, and that prior to working where I am now, I had a soul crushing job at a grocery store. A grim alternative, even with everything going on. I am ALSO well aware of my strong fear of becoming one of “those people” who makes decisions based on money – a fear that is harder to steer clear of when faced with rent and crushing student loan debt.

These are complicated questions and answering them is not something I am currently feeling capable of doing. So for now, I will continue to waddle through the uncertainty and awkwardness. I only hope I find an answer soon.

 

Until next time.

Ambiguously yours,

-t

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3 thoughts on “on losing faith

  1. Francis says:

    Hey Tyler,

    Thanks for the honesty. The past week hasn’t been great for making things less ambiguous or confusing, has it? =)

    I have a couple of thoughts.

    1) On money and jobs. I’ve often said that I would be OK working at a job that doesn’t give me this level of satisfaction, if I know it’s just a job. If I can compartmentalize and say “meh, this is my job, it pays the bills but it isn’t who I am”, then I can seek out other opportunities to do the things that I really care about.

    The thing is, this, now, for me, it isn’t just a job. It would be easier sometimes if it were. But it’s not, and I need to care about it in order to keep going. And I think it’s far more painful to lose faith in something that I used to care about, than to be doing something that I never cared for in the first place.

    2) That’s not to say it’s time to peace out. If I’m saying that, for this job, I need to care – then there are two possible responses. “I don’t care enough any more, so bye” … or “I need to find a way to care again”.

    I obviously can’t tell you which to take (and that assumes your reaction is similar to mine in the first place). This is a deeply personal decision you’ll have to make. But I will suggest that time helps, the awkwardness fades, and energy and excitement and momentum can and will return (having been through rough patches like this before). And also that, for all the uncertainty here, there is no guarantee that it’s any better anywhere else.

    One last thought. Regardless of that decision – speak your mind, but in a non-disruptive way. Or a disruptive-yet-constructive way. Don’t burn bridges, but don’t let unshared opinions stew in frustration either (trust me, I’m the expert at doing that, and it’s never led anywhere good =) ). The best way to feel some confidence in the future is to make sure you’re helping shape it.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one with these questions. Wish I had some answers (wouldn’t that make life easier?)… but would love to continue the discussion over coffee some time =)

    Cheers,
    Francis

    • tblacquiere says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughts, Francis! A lot of what you said really resonated. This in particular:

      “The thing is, this, now, for me, it isn’t just a job. It would be easier sometimes if it were.”

      Makes me think of all the connections I have to staff and volunteers, and how the decision to leave would affect them/their workloads etc…It is more than just a job and I do genuinely care about these people, so the decision is not just what I am feeling at present.

      It’s also just good to be reminded that things aren’t necessarily any better anywhere else…easy to forget that sometimes!

      Most of all, it’s great to know I’m not alone here. So again, thanks for sharing! And yes! Coffee! Let’s do it (:

      -t

  2. […] to risk my financial well-being, to leave a job I am mostly stable in and, in general (despite recent events), […]

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