A new job is opening up within my team. It offers a promotion, increased responsibilities, and better pay.

Although the job handles technical escalations, and not technical writing or process-focused duties, I plan to try for it, nevertheless. First, to fail to apply for it after the years that I have spent on the phone would spell professional suicide. (Yes, Virginia, there are nuances to applying for internal promotions. To fail to do so now would be construed as a regrettable lack of motivation, and could disqualify me from serious consideration for future opportunity.)

The job itself really wouldn't be my cup of tea. I and the hiring manager both know it, but we both also know that we need to dance the dance. I need to apply, and he needs to interview me based upon my seniority and experience.

The odds are that I won't get this particular job. There are other applicants with more certifications and degrees who would better fit the position. But by applying, I show that I'm ready for the next phase of my career. It will make managers think of me when a more suitable role is created.

Gods, I hate office politics, but it does put food on the table, and you never know -- I might get the job, and then have the time of my freakin' life. It's 3rd tier support. I would be empowered to say and do things that I could never say and do as a rank-and-file support rep. I would have more power to impact the follow-through on lab-level escalations, and it would give me a whole new perspective on the business. I would be able to advocate for customers like never before.

It's an exciting thought.

Speaking of carpe diem, I've been thinking a lot about how we really do create the circumstances of our lives.

Now, bear with me. I'm trying to put words to an instinctual understanding. What follows will not be perfect, but it is an honest attempt to express something I know to be very true. I can write, revise, and post other entries ont he subject as I begin to articulate my understanding. (Just one of the many reasons why I blog.)

We each guide how our life progresses. No, not to the extent that a rape victim is responsible for being abused, although there may be some responsibility for not carrying a gun, or failing to take a self-defense course, and choosing to do whatever it takes to make sure that the would-be predator is permanently removed from our gene pool.

What I mean is that life is a series of choices, and how we react, what we select, does impact future options.

As an example, two women are faced with unemployment. One woman throws up her hands, and decides 'this is it'. She clearly visualizes the loss of her home, her vehicle, her possessions, etc. It is below her dignity to even begin to consider menial-type jobs, because the job she held before was just oh-so-cool. She instantly rules out positions in food service, retail, entry-level administration, construction -- whatever. In fact, as those options are brought up, she has numerous reasons why these options will never work for her, and why she is incapable of finding a niche other than the one she just lost.

She chooses to paint herself into a corner of helplessness, because she's already defeated in her own mind. She is incapable of considering other options, especially the ones that she considers to be beneath her dignity and physical capability.

This choice limits other choices to come. Each self-defeating choice after that, with all the attendant reasons for the limitation, just narrows the scope further until her worst fears do come to fruition: dispossession, homelessness, hunger, and perhaps -- in the extreme end -- death.

What's worse, these sorts of people tend to lash out at those who try to help them; belittling them as intellectual inferiors because their very hopefulness makes them blind to what this woman perceives to be immutable truth: it's all over. Only the slow spiral to obscurity and death remains.

The other lady looks around, takes stock and sees where her unemployment comes from. She acknowledges her part in it, and takes responsibility for it, even if it really wasn't her fault, as in corporate downsizing or interoffice politics. In fact, this gal probably saw it coming, and has a contingency plan.

Even if she doesn't, she still decides to make certain personal sacrifices in order to make ends meet. Instead of saying that she can't do physical labor because of her bad back or knees, she decides to apply for those jobs anyway, as her resume may convince prospective employers to offer her a different, less physical position. Or, she decides to sell off everything she owns anyway, and simplify her life in a more humble abode until her job prospects can improve.

The point is that this woman clings to hope, and she doesn't make excuses. Instead, she sees her unemployment as a means to make a change, branch out, and diversify her job skills. She knows that sooner or later, she will land (or create!) a job doing something she enjoys, while making a comfortable wage. She knows that dispossession is just the loss of things, and that they can be recovered. She also knows that the object of greatest value -- herself -- can never be taken if she refuses to surrender it.

One woman is hopeless, dejected, resigned, and offers excuses. The other woman is hopeful, creative, determined, and makes no apologies.

One woman vanquishes herself. The other woman beats the situation, and betters herself.

I've always been more like the second woman. Life sometimes sucks. In fact, life can suck for years at a time. But I know that in the end, with perseverance, the wheel does turn. I don't give up, I don't give in, and I sure as hell don't come up with long lists of circumstances that hold me back. I never limit my options, even if it does mean I might wind back up in PT because I strained my bum rotator cuff.

Life is about choice, and about learning as you go. If you let fear or physical discomfort hold you back; if you put on the blinders of limitation, you might as well go lay down in that ditch you dug for yourself.

I choose to live my life with responsibility and accountability for my own choices. I mean to teach my daughter to do the same, without apology. To do anything else is to buy into victim culture and identity.

Self-empowerment or excuses? Which is it?

posted by Linda on August 3, 2004 06:23 PM

Well said, Linda!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at August 8, 2004 06:13 PM