Sunday, March 27, 2011

volunteering

I started volunteering at the hospital this week. I'm in the Emergency Department of my local hospital, doing ER Tech-like stuff. Transporting patients, cleaning rooms, getting equipment. While I'm freaked out about knowing the layout of the hospital, I'm not worried about interacting with the patients. Honestly? That was the best part.

I've always been a bit of a misanthrope. (A bit?) But of all the things that made me nervous last night - which elevator? which floor? which nurse? - that didn't intimidate me at all. I was lucky that I had a good group of patients, none of them difficult, but it was incredibly rewarding just getting to interact with them.

I was a little, like, back of my mind, worried about that. It was never a surface concern, but I was somewhat concerned about being good at it. Everyone following my path is, I believe. But the moment I stepped into their room, introduced myself, and started pushing them towards their destination, I felt born to interact with them.

It was a fantastic experience. I'm really glad I started volunteering. It's made me realize that I can learn biology, chemistry, and even gasp, organic chemistry. I can learn the layout of the hospital, how to change over an O2 tank, and which nurse is taking care of room 16... but learning good human interaction is probably harder. And I feel well equipped in that department.


Monday, March 14, 2011

So who knows why I didn't like my job, I just didn't. Perhaps it had something to do with the random discontent I felt at not making any contributions to things that matter to me. Perhaps it had to do with lack of appreciation. Perhaps it had to do with always feeling like management was working against me.

It doesn't matter now.

A month after I was let go, I was laying in bed one morning (malingering, no doubt) and it suddenly occurred to me that I was now free to do whatever I wanted to do. Weren't there things I wanted to do that were impossible because I worked full time? Wasn't there something?

I attended a women's conference later that week with one of my mentors from school, and it was sometime during the keynote speech when it hit me. The speaker was talking about how women always put what they want on hold because they are helping others get what they want instead, or how they are looking for permission to follow their dreams. She stood up there and gave us all permission, told us to stop putting others first, just this once, and be honest with ourselves.

I'm taking notes. Writing things down. Somewhere around the phrase "one precious life" I wrote in the right-hand margin... "Hey. Go to med school."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When one door closes...

I'm 33 years old. It's the Friday before Labor Day, 2010. I have a mortgage (two really), a brand new car, and I'm two semesters away from graduating with my first bachelor's degree. And I've just been fired.

The entire process - signing the legal papers, telling people how to carry on without me, graciously accepting my firing, and cleaning out my desk - takes about an hour and a half. I was "exceptionally nice" and made the process very easy on the people firing me. It was actually mentioned in the days after how nice I was.

I'm driving home when the panic sets in and I nearly hyperventilate.

Thankfully, I had plans that evening. Driving out to Canfield, Ohio with some of my best mates to watch a demolition derby and eat fair food was probably what saved me from emptying my liquor cabinet directly into my bloodstream.

It wasn't until that first official work-day when I wasn't sitting in a cube that it began to sink in: my goodness, I hated my job.

I was a technical project manager and application administrator. It was my job to get applications up and running using a variety of resources - internal and external - coordinating tasks between vendors, clients, and employees, training those necessary on the things they needed to know, migrating legacy data, performing upgrades and fixes, and basically being the person on the other end of the phone when whatever application wasn't playing nicely.

I did this for 3-1/2 years. In that time, I managed to completely phase out an existing legacy application that had been in use for nearly ten years, launch and integrate a web-to-print process using "the latest" in web-to-print technology, AND serve as part of a two-person team to get the company ISO 9001 certified. Which we did. (And I have the champagne cork to prove it.)

When I was let go, all my projects were working. There were no new mountains left to climb. I innovated myself out of a job during a time when business was not picking up and clients, despite our awesome technology, were in-sourcing tasks.

The actual tasks were wonderful and I loved the impact my work had. The doing of the tasks, the tolerating the user-base, the panicked phone calls, the late nights, all of those things I could deal with... in fact, I even liked them. I liked being the star quarterback who came in and "saved the day" with a combination of technical skill, excellent contacts, and panache.

So why did I hate my job?