Remember that time I left my long-term corporate gig to embark on a new adventure?
I’m done now.
After about a year and a half of self-discovery, trying new things, stretching myself and doing the work that I never would have had the opportunity to experiment with if I had stayed in my position, I’m back in “corporate gig” land. In fact, I’m back working for the same media company I left, albeit for a different division.
And it’s funny; whenever I leave a job (to start a new one), I’m asked if I did so to spend more time with the kids.
Life-work “balance” isn’t strictly about time management. It’s also about fulfillment, and joy and productivity, and knowing yourself. I learned a lot about myself the last year and a half. I’m someone who craves more of a structured environment; I’m attracted to bigger organizations with proven best practices. And most of all, I need to see the fruits of my labor. I need to see I had impact, or at least made improvements.
Because that makes me the happiest. And my family is better off with the happier version of me.
The job I left was fulfilling in a very important way; I was doing what I wanted to do. I tested myself; and I learned so much. I re-ignited a creative spark that had fizzled out a while ago and made it so hard to stay motivated. And now, I bring that spark to my new job at Sundance TV.
Part of the same company I left in February 2013.
On the same floor I sat for almost seven years.
Seeing old colleagues whom I missed so much this last year and a half.
But reincarnated in a new role, in a new division, at a network that just feels like a good fit.
I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to work at a production company the last year and a half. I had the privilege of working among driven creatives who taught me such an important lesson: why not?
Why not was something I didn’t ask often enough. I learned to fail fast, and get smarter faster. I learned that taking the G train to the Williamsburg office every day made a considerable dent in my enthusiasm, even though I got to interact with the NICEST Dunkin’ Donuts staff in any of the boroughs (they memorized my order after only 2 times!). I learned that I still want to learn; that it’s important to me to have mentors and people who model behavior and business practices to which I aspire. I learned that I am good at things nobody had offered to have me try; that I had to make my own opportunities and trust my gut.
I am not home any more than I have been since my maternity leave 4 years ago. I work full-time. My partner works full-time. It is not easy. We have a babysitter, grandparents and are currently looking for a second babysitter to cover holes in our childcare. We have full day pre-k and after-school. We have piano lessons, dance classes, Brownie meetings and karate. We have started buying pre-sliced apples for the lunches because I just…can’t anymore. We have to wake my daughter up to make a 7:20am bus. We have a lot of half-days that require feats of scheduling gymnastics nobody warned me about. We have more homework than last year. We have new chore charts I keep forgetting to print out. We have to stop the yelling.
And I have a new job that, from a title perspective, is not a step up. In fact, it’s a position I occupied a decade ago. Does that matter? For a minute it did.
I read LEAN IN over a year ago and have mixed feelings about it, but I think there is one thing Sheryl Sandberg got right about having a career, for me at least:
“It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.”
So I have zig-zagged and I’m back in with the same company, in a whole new way. Boomerang employees are trending, apparently.