It’s my fault. Not theirs.

Life lessons from a road trip

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I was upgraded to an enormous suite at the brand new Fairmont Hotel in downtown Austin, Texas. This was my last night as a resident of the Lone Star State and a family friend who worked at the immaculate hotel wanted me to go out in style. After all, I was moving to rural Virginia to live in my in-laws’ basement. I had just quit my job at Amazon and had no intent of finding another job. For the first time since age 13, I was unemployed.

Driving makes me tired. It’s not uncommon for me to want to pull over after only two hours of driving to take a nap. These 1,4000 miles would be different. Texas was not the only thing in my rearview mirror; I was also leaving a depleted version of myself that I could hardly recognize. It was time to process it all.

Leg 1: Austin to Memphis

Much of the professional turbulence I endured was self-inflicted. I chose to act as if the situation was happening to me. I felt like the victim of a soul-less, massively emotionally unintelligent, and hypocritical group of senior leaders. I deeply loathed interacting with them. Why? They were managers, not leaders. Distracted, not attentive. Numbers driven, not human driven. Risk averse, not risk taking.

It was when I stopped for a break in Texarkana that an embarrassingly long overdue epiphany occurred. We all have different latitudes and longitudes. It’s that simple. We all see, hear, and feel things in our own way. My mistake was that I had somehow began to take it personally. Why?

See, in the first few weeks of the job I was fully aware that working in a fulfillment center was…unfulfilling. There is nothing wrong with that. What was wrong was that my inability to act decisively for my family and I transcended into me feeling like a coward. Feeling like a coward made me upset. Being upset made me distant. Being distant from those I loved most made me unhappy.

This is similar to what author Mark Manson calls “the feedback loop from hell.” It’s a self-sabotaging loop of negative opinions of yourself and your actions. When the loop is continuous you look for targets to attribute the loop to.

Spoiler alert! This only exacerbates the problem.

It was not a single person’s fault that I was too scared to leave my position due to contemplating of all the byproducts associated with quitting. What was at stake exactly? Here are a few things:

  • Money. Good money. (used for trivial things usually)
  • Taking my daughter out of her great day care
  • Having to move and give up our brand new home
  • Status: working at a state of the art facility at the world’s most recognized company
  • Being perceived as a job hopper

As I continued on to Memphis, all of these concerns still remained prevalent. However, I knew one thing. There was no turning back, and that I would now see for myself whether or not these concerns were valid. I no longer had the opportunity to simply speculate to the point of decision-making paralysis.

The best advice I’ve ever received is “If it causes problems, it’s a problem. Fix it.” I did not fix it. I did not take prudent and effective action. Instead, I blamed outward. A mistake I hope to not make again.

See my previous article here!

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