“#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.