Listen to your inner voice. Whatever you do — listen, but most of all, act accordingly. A lesson learned. (Long Post)

I hesitated writing this post because I thought, “Why should I give this ‘issue’ precious space on my blog, shining a spotlight on something that should not be this important in my life that I would talk or write about it when I have so many other things that are incredibly important and deserve my focus?”  But, here I am. This is not about work. (I’ve griped enough about my career and my day-to-day life both on this space and on Twitter.) This is about volunteering — giving back to the professional community, the people within your industry who have, at times (not all the time), supported you.

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I’ve been a member of several professional organizations over the years.  More of an introvert (although my family probably would disagree), these have given me confidence in the form of professional development programs, meet-and-greets and countless opportunities to be exposed to really intelligent people, many of whom are women in a service industry that is predominantly way past (actually, it’s wayyyyyy) middle-age and male (among other things — so many other things).  The confidence I’ve gained has allowed me to go out on a limb, challenging antiquated this-is-the-way-we’ve-always-done-this mindsets.  But it has been incredibly exhausting and downright painful for 8 years (too d*mn long).  If I didn’t have to think about certain responsibilities in my life, I would walk away in a heartbeat and not look back. With every waking day, my life ticks away and diminishes to the point of paralysis in so many ways and with so many things.  So (sigh), having memberships in these professional associations are a godsend at times as I fight bullsh*t nonsense at work (although these are less since I made a conscious decision last year to pick my battles more carefully).  As a Department of One, flying solo is tough. You need people in your corner, people you can turn to. When you have no-one, believe me, you need this.

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Last year, I took a sabbatical from one of the associations.  I’d been an “active” member serving in roles that gave me great exposure but also took a lot of time and energy.  With The Second Mother being admitted into the nursing home in the fall of 2011, I needed to step away.  There were questions from various members about me running for the presidency.  I was flattered, but I always knew in my heart that my complete displeasure with where my professional life was going at the company where I am, I was so fed up that I didn’t even know or think I’d still be in the industry much longer.  How could I then, in all good conscience, consider throwing my hat in the ring for that role?  Something seemed very wrong about doing that.  But also, let’s be real and truthful in this space: The association had drained me. At the end of 2011, I was over it.  I needed 2012 to myself.

In the early fall of last year, I received a call from one of the members of the nominating committee for the board of directors.  This individual, who I admire greatly, wanted me to seriously consider “coming back into the fold”.  Now, being a board member is an honor.  I’d served on the board for two years before.  But, did I want to do this again?  Did I want my name shortlisted by the nominating committee and then put forth to the entire membership for a vote?  Did I?  Especially with The Second Mother being in the nursing home for a year at the time, I really didn’t think so.  My heart just wasn’t in it because my heart was elsewhere.  I promised my industry colleague to give this some thought.  I would get back with an answer the following week.

I had serious — very serious — reservations about the incoming president, a person who I liked but who I felt lacked the focus to fill the role.  I also had serious issues about the direction of the international organization, the steep cost of membership and the question of “value” based on the programs and events our chapter would routinely dish out year after year.  Most of all, I’d become discouraged with getting nowhere with my job search.  I’m an absolute colossal failure when it comes to interviewing, and although I hadn’t had a lot of interviews, being a visible member and going on interviews in an industry where almost everybody knows everybody and basically fall short time after time completely kills your self-esteem. You feel people know how much of a loser you are, like you talk a good game but can’t deliver when you need to.  Or, you feel, “Oh, she’s great on paper, but that’s about it.”  I didn’t feel our association was providing basic services related to sharpening skills such as this. They offer everything but.

Well, I thought about it.  I had a couple of conditions.  Even when I made the phone call, I heard my inner voice telling me not to go ahead with it, but I threw my hat in the ring — again — because I thought…well…it doesn’t really doesn’t matter why and what I thought.  The fact is, I made the decision.  So, in December, my name and credentials were submitted and I was elected to a position on the board of directors that required me to serve a two-year term.

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Always, always listen to your inner voice.

We couldn’t even clear the first month of the year before we (the board) received an “urgent” e-mail that the president — the one who I had serious reservations about — resigned.  Now, there was upheaval. The president-elect needed to be moved into the position without having a year of “training” leaving us without a president-elect.  The secretary of the board was then quickly put forth to the association’s membership and was elected into the role.  We then had to find a replacement for the secretarial position.  Great.  In the midst of all this, I’d already started the year off on such a sh*tty foot. I did not need this.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  As soon as we moved into February, the now new president began to push ahead with an agenda, assigned me to overseeing a committee where I now struggle with one of the co-chairs (a complete b*tch), and tasked me also with yet another role.  All this has given me unnecessary stress and taken so much time from my job!  Seriously, do I need this???  It doesn’t help matters while all this was (and still is) going on, The Second Mother’s health became a cause for serious concern.

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The thought of living through not just 10 more months of this but 22 months (until December 2014), weighs so heavily on my chest. I’m done — but I’m stuck. I’ve considered resigning.  But, doing so would be yet another nightmare for the board to deal with — and I can’t go that route.  If I can get through the next 10 months, and if before the end of the year I do not have a change of heart, I will bow out gracefully (at least completing one year of my two-year term), and they’ll have time to find a suitable replacement to put forth to the membership for a vote.

The moral of this very lengthy story…

Listen to your inner voice.  Whatever you do — listen, but most of all, act accordingly.  A lesson learned.

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