How My Teeth Caused a Coworker to Quit

I purposely booked my wisdom teeth surgery for a Thursday before a long weekend so that I had  5 full days to recover, and only miss 2 days of work.  But when Monday (Family Day for us Ontarians) rolled around, it was clear that I was in no shape to go back to work on Tuesday as planned – especially not for a 13 hour day (9am-5pm at my “regular” Education job, and then 6-10pm to Stage Manage the rehearsal) considering I hadn’t even been awake for a total of 13 hours combined in the 4 days prior!  Had their not been rehearsal that night, my bosses wouldn’t even notice I wasn’t there, but of course, stage managing is always more important then my actual job or my physical (and mental) well-being…

I debated going in for the evening only, but my coworker who was also looking after me sensibly convinced me not to push it. So I called in sick, had major guilt about it, and had a restless night full of anxiety dreams.

I knew there was no one easily available to fill in for me for rehearsal. I knew that it would fall on “G”, another co-worker who’s had to pseudo-fill-in for me before.  I knew she wasn’t going to be able to do it (she works 3 other jobs to support her currently disabled husband and 2 kids).  And I knew my boss would yell at her for not being available (because he’s done it before, not 2 weeks ago).

What I didn’t know is that this would be the last straw for G.  I didn’t know that she would march into our bosses office and hand-over her 2 weeks notice. One boss tried to get to her to reconsider, while the other threw a temper tantrum like the full-grown man-child he is.

I finally had the chance to talk to G this afternoon, and she reassured me that she doesn’t blame me for any of this, but I still feel guilty. If I’d sucked it up and went to work, the boss wouldn’t have been on a rampage, wouldn’t have taken it out on her, and she would still have this job.

Chances are that it was only a matter of time before he flipped out at her over something else and she would be out the door anyways, but playing the middle-man in this scenario sucks.  Mostly because I wish I had the guts to walk out the door with her.

I’M GOING TO QUIT MY JOB

Yes boys and girls, after all the “should I?”, “could I?” back and forth of the last few months year, the multiple blog posts, the whining, the bitching, the endless complaining, I have finally made a decision:

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I’M GOING TO QUIT MY JOB!

For those of you that know me in real life and/or follow me on Twitter, I know this isn’t new news, but it is new to the blog. And after the events of this past week (in which I started collecting my personal belongings and was seconds from walking out the door, only to be stopped by the fact I have to get my wisdom teeth yanked out of my face next month and can’t afford to pay for it without my health benefits), it’s clear that I’ve got to take this declaration seriously, so that I can walk out the door without any regret.

Now, I’m no dummy. As tempting as it is, I’m not going to march into my bosses office and politely hand over a letter of resignation and sheepishly give them the ol’ “it’s not you, it’s me” spiel (or if I’m being honest, tell them where they can shove this job).  No, no. I’m giving myself time to hopefully find a new job before leaving this one. I say hopefully because this will be my last season working at the theater, even if I haven’t found something else by that point. I’m hoping it won’t come to that! If it does, I’ll likely look into temp work, as I know a lot of people that have landed FT jobs thru temping, including my mom. I’ll worry about Plan B if it comes to it – but I mentally and physically cannot (and will not) take another year of this.

I’ve already began applying, but I haven’t really put much effort into it yet, trying to hold out for that one perfect job posting. The job market really does suck though, and each day it’s become more and more apparent that holding out isn’t going to get me anywhere.

Most of the postings that do interest me either pay the same or less than what I’m making now, or are contract positions.  Initially, I wrote them off, but I’m now rethinking that. I’ve been overlooking the other benefits these jobs likely have – health insurance, room for promotions/raises, a regular schedule, and most importantly, getting me out of the toxic work environment I’m currently in.

My resume and cover letter really need an overhaul. Neither have been updated in nearly 4 years, and don’t include the two three jobs I have been working during that time. Chances are I’m going to have to enter a new field, and I’m ok with that, but that’s been a factor in my procrastination. There is a growing list of fields that interest me and many of them are similar to what I do now, but the resume will require some tweaking to better sell myself and land me some interviews in those areas.  It’s such a daunting task and I’ve been putting it off because by the end of the day, I’m so overwhelmed and stressed that I just want to lay on my couch and drink Bailey’s. No more excuses, Amanda!

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Aww… thanks John!

I’m going to quit my job. There is a ton of anxiety behind those six little words, but there is it. And now it’s out there for you all to help keep me accountable, and hopefully to support me in this decision.

Do I Give It My All Or Do I Give Up?

My career has hit a fork-in-the-road.  I think it’s clear that I’m unhappy with my current working situation, and I think it’s time for me to move on.  (I had drafted a long complainy post about that, but making it public is a bad idea.)

The problem is I LOVE my job – but because I don’t have the support, the resources, and now the time that I need to do it properly, the program has become embarrassing.  After reading a post on Serendipity’s Guide to Saving about her positive experience working for a non-profit,  I realized that I don’t feel like my job is serving its purpose anymore.  It could be such an amazing thing but I’m sadly starting to think that it only exists to look good on grant applications.

For me, theatre is about teaching and engaging people – not pumping out low-brow entertainment to make a quick buck, afraid to try anything new or challenging for fear of driving away audiences. I want to challenge the audiences/students that come to the theatre.  I want them to develop skills (physical, kinesthetic, artistic, creative thinking, social, etc.), to think, to be inspired, and to have fun doing it. I want theatre to have a meaningful message, and not tell kids, yet again, that “drugs are bad, mkay?”, or perhaps not even have a message at all. It’s what I believe in. It’s what I went to school for. It’s what (I thought) I was hired for.  But it’s not what I’m doing.

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This is what theatre is to me.

As the head/sole employee of the department, is it up to me to revive it? To change what I know needs to change? To fight for the resources and funding it needs? To offer more to the public? To spend every spare moment at work researching new ideas and techniques? To basically give it all I’ve got?

Or is it too late? Since moving to this city, I know of at least two new, comparable organizations that have swooped in to fill the void they identified in our programming before we did. The high schools here are also doing more and more theatre every year (Yay! But also boo…). And to be honest, I already feel like I’m sacrificing so much of ME for this job (my health, my relationships, my interests, my financial security, my sanity!);  I don’t know that I have any more to give – especially with the little voice in the back of my head telling me it’s a lost cause.

Money, of course, is another big issue. If I decide to stay, I will have to continue working part-time as well, because I cannot survive on the income from this one job alone.  My work/life “balance” would remain 90% work, and 10% life, and that’s not really a life…

Fun Fact: In 2012, I’ve worked close to 400 hours at my part time job –
that’s equal to 10 weeks (2.5 MONTHS) of full time work!

This isn’t the first time I’ve considered moving on, but something always stopped me from taking the leap – management would ease up on me, the job hunt would not go so well, I didn’t feel financially stable enough to take the risk, or in most cases, I was just too scared.

And I am scared.  Terrified!  This is what I spent 6.5 year of school and tens of thousands of dollars for.  This is my first job out of school.  It’s the only reason I moved to this city. What if I can’t find anything else? What if I regret quitting? What if the job gets better after I leave? What if my new job is worse? What if I’m still unhappy? What if, what if, what if???

I know that I can’t use fear as an excuse to live the life so perfectly described in the first few paragraphs of Living For Monday’s “Find a Job that Matters” post:

“Everyday that you wake up is a struggle to get out of bed. You hear the alarm go off and your first thought is something like this: please just let me go back to sleep. Is it the weekend yet? What excuse would fly so that I don’t actually have to get in the car and go to work today?” (Continued at the source; definitely worth the read.)

But what do I do? 

I considered a compromise between giving it my all and giving up: put in the extra effort at work, but also keep looking for a new job.  But (as the boyf pointed out) would I really be giving the job my all if I was still looking to get out of it? Or conversely, would I really be looking for a new job if I was still investing so much into the current one?

Do I give it my all?  Or is it time to give up?

 
1.) Photo by David Levene, Source.  2.) Photo by Leila Romaya, Source.  3.) Photo by Mark Walz, Source.
4.) Photo by Jennifer Clampet, Source.  5.) Photo by Iain Findlay-Walsh, Source.  6.) Photo by Pete Carr, Source

This Isn’t Exactly What I Signed Up For

Since the summer of 2009, I’ve been the Theatre in Education Coordinator with a small, live theatre company.  There are 9 full-time employees, and another 7-10 seasonal employees (our season is September-May). As I’ve mentioned, my job entails teaching acting classes and workshops, getting schools to come to the theatre, getting the theatre to go to schools, and all the administrative stuff relating to that.

[To avoid any confusion, my part time bar manager job is also at the theatre.  That job entails running the bar for evening performances.]

But my job description has changed. To echo my last post, I’m being “assigned tasks at work that don’t interest me, don’t help advance my career goals, and/or have nothing to do with what I was hired for.”

For the last 3 months, however, I’ve been teaching the Saturday morning acting classes for kids (which are normally taught by someone else).  I was excited to do it – teaching DOES interest me, it DOES help advance my career goals, and it IS what I was hired to do (plus kids are adorable).  I also thought that taking on this extra task would also get me out of being forced to work on a project that has nothing to do with my job stage managing the fundraiser show.  But it didn’t.  It just meant working 6 days a week.

I first got suckered into stage managing the theatre’s fundraiser play (which uses community volunteers as actors) two years ago, before I knew how truly awful it is.  I foolishly thought that getting involved with the non-office stuff would be a fun learning opportunity and help advance my career.  But after experiencing it once, I was DONE… but I’m now somehow doing this for the THIRD time.  Although last year went much better then the first year, I was so desperate that I somewhat seriously contemplated faking a pregnancy to get out of ever doing it again. (What? It worked for Lindsay Lohan in Labor Pains!)  Ugh…

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Forgive my photoshop skills…

Although I fully understand the need for it, I’m not interested in fundraising; they wouldn’t ask me to build a set, so why am I being asked to manage a fundraiser – especially when there is a fundraising coordinator and a fundraising committee?

I’m one of the oldest employees at the theatre (in terms of how long I’ve been there, not actual age) and one of the only people with a theatre background, and therefore, I end up doing a lot of odd jobs such as selling tickets, updating the website, dropping off posters, etc.  I don’t mind helping out when they are small, one time things.  I do mind, however, when these “sundry duties as assigned” take up 20-25% of my time; in other words, one full day a week, every week.  And then another two full weeks in the spring.  Stage Managing – the bane of my (working) existence. 

What’s so BAD about stage managing? Each week, I sit in a 2.5 hour rehearsal where I SIMULTANEOUSLY have to follow the script to make sure the actors say the correct lines, have to write down every move the actors make, have to make sure the actors are ready for their cues, have to make sure the actors have the props and costumes they need, have to track the props, have to prompt the actors for their lines and/or movements if they forget or go off-book, and if someone is absent, I have to fill-in for them. (I reiterate – that is all done SIMULTANEOUSLY.)  As well, each week I have to buy and prepare fresh snacks for them (and by that I really mean for my boss who eats most of it). I am not allowed to eat said food. I have to make them coffee.  I have to wash their dishes.  I have to sit in production meetings where I barely say two words.  I have to make sure our costume designer and props coordinator are doing their job, but I’m not allowed to direct their work.  I have to phone and email the actors to make sure they show up to rehearsals (and I get the blame if they don’t).  I have to use my personal cell phone so the actors can reach me whenever they need to. I have to play the messenger between the actors and the director and the costume designer and the set designer and the props coordinator, but cannot have an opinion on anything.  And that’s just the rehearsal part.  Tech week (when we first move to the stage) is worse, and I’m pretty sure breaks labour laws.

(In defense of stage managing, I should mention that I know several people who LOVE it, including two of my bestest friends and former roommies.  I’m assuming their experiences have been much better than mine have been.)

The best part of my job is teaching, but since September I’ve only spent about 35 hours actually teaching; on the other hand, in the last month I’ve already spent over 50 hours on stage managing. Last week I’ve also been yelled at four times, received two rude emails, been threatened with a letter in my file, and spent half hour in tears in one of the bosses’ offices over stage managing stuff.  (I’d like to note that not ONCE have I been in trouble for anything related to Education.)

I’ve talked to the bosses about it; I’ve told him how much I hate it, how much of my time it takes, and how I get so behind on my Education work because of it, but it falls on deaf ears. It’s a “fundraiser” and they need to cut costs wherever possible, even if it means exploiting their employees.  If I do get any sort of response, it’s a guilt-trip about how employees of the arts do it for the love of the arts, and for the greater good of the community, not for the money or the recognition, blah blah blah…

I used to think that saying yes at work was one of the best ways to get ahead: grow, learn, prove that I’m a valuable employee, feel valued, get raises, get promotions, be given more meaningful work, feel like my work is meaningful, and be excited to get out of bed every morning.  In this experience, the opposite has been true.  If I could go back in time to November 2010 and say NO to stage managing that first time, I would do it – no question, no regard for the butterfly effect that would follow because I can’t reasonably fathom an alternate reality that would cause me more stress, distress, and general hatred of everything than stage managing does.

Have you ever been given a big project at work that you didn’t enjoy and/or didn’t really fall under your job title?  How did you handle that situation?

Have you ever regretted saying “yes” to your boss and wish you could take it back?

 

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Is My Face to Blame for my Changing Job Description?

Part of my job is to teach acting classes.  I primary teach teenagers, occasionally teach kids, but almost never teach anyone over the age of 18.

We offer the classes three times a year, but of the 10 sessions that have been offered since I started working at the theatre, I’ve only taught one class – not one session, but ONE CLASS.  Only 4 people had signed up, and despite my hesitation to teach a small class, the bosses made me go ahead with it.  Only 2 people showed up for the first class; I did my best to adapt the lesson to partner exercises, and they seemed to have a good time, but they never returned.   For the rest of that session, I still had to plan the classes, come in alone on Sunday afternoons, and sit here for half hour or so to see if anyone showed.  They didn’t.  (They also didn’t answer or return my phone calls.)  Ugh…

The bosses always ask me WHY this class isn’t catching. Is it the timing of the class? The cost? Lack of advertising?  But I know the real reason – adults that are interested in theatre want to be part of the production (acting, designing, backstage) and not play “silly games” in a classroom.  It happens time and time again: someone comes in or calls looking for more information, asks if we do any sort of performance, I say no and never hear from them again.  I keep telling this to the bosses, but nothing changes and the cycle continues.

At least that’s what I had assumed was the reasons until earlier this week.   But what if it’s me????

A guy in his early 20’s came in, asking about the class.  In the middle of my regular spiel, he made a face at me and asked “YOU teach the class? What are your credentials?” Umm… an-honours-bachelor-of-arts-in-dramatic-arts, a-certificate-and-a-post-grad-diploma-in-arts-management, four-years-of-teaching-workshops-while-in-school, and-three-plus-years-working-here.   He didn’t look impressed.

Then it occurred to me: PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO BE TAUGHT BY PEOPLE THAT ARE YOUNGER THAN THEM.

A supervisor I had at one of my internships was younger than me.   I’ll admit, it bugged the shit out of me – at first (but it didn’t take long to see why she had landed the job).  I know it was an ego/jealousy thing, but I assumed that I knew more than her, and that she couldn’t teach me anything, so I almost didn’t take the internship.  She ended up being an integral part in getting me to where I am today.

Even though I’m 6 months away from the big 3-0, I look young, and still get ID’d all the time. People don’t always take me seriously or underestimate me because of this.  I try to dress professionally, but the dress code in the office is pretty casual and I’m usually bundled up under a sweater and a scarf (and occasionally, my coat). Pair that with the occasional break-out, and I instantly look 10 years younger! (Can I somehow bottle this and make millions of dollars?!?)  I’m pretty sure his judgey face didn’t help me sell myself either.

I much prefer to teach kids and teenagers, and get a lot of great feedback from them and their parents.  Maybe this carries over (to my disadvantage) when I am teaching adults?  Like they can sense that isn’t really what I want to be doing?

Whatever the reason, the declining enrollment in all the classes we offer is starting to worry me.  Not so much in a job security way (although there is that), but more so that I’m going to continue to be assigned tasks at work that don’t interest me, don’t help advance my career goals, and/or have nothing to do with what I was hired for.  But that’s a whole other (forthcoming) post…

Have your abilities ever been questioned based on your age and/or appearance?
Or have you ever had a boss or teacher that is younger then you?  What was that like?

Maybe Things Don’t Suck, Afterall

I know, I know, another Personal Finance post? I promise, I will start blogging about other things (or perhaps stop blogging so much), but I’m still hung up on figuring out how to quit my second job and still make it work.  I keep reading other blogs hoping that I will find the magic answer, but alas, I know that it isn’t going to be that easy.  At this point in my life, my spending is a little out of control, my debt is a little too big, and my paycheck is a little too small.

I’ve been rather negative and stressed out about this whole thing.  Debt isn’t fun; I don’t imagine it’s a whole lot of fun to read about either.  But a comment made by my old roomie Debbie helped remind me that while my situation isn’t ideal, I’m still in a really good place.  (Thanks Debbie! Miss you!)

I HAVE A JOB CAREER

As Debbie pointed out, I’m extremely lucky to have found a job in my career field, which actually puts my years of education to use.  Too many of my friends and former classmates are either still in school, or are underemployed (working in retail, fast food, etc.), and here I am, 3+ years into it, and still complaining?

I HAVE BENEFITS

Yes, my not-for-profit job doesn’t pay all that well, but it does have Health Benefits – something I never thought I would get until I got married.  80% of my dental and prescriptions are paid for.  I get $400 a year, each for things like the chiropractor, massage therapy, naturopath, physiotherapy, etc.  And, in addition to those benefits, I of course get to see free, live professional theatre, as well.

I CAN AFFORD THINGS

There’s food in my cupboards, beer in my fridge, clothes in my closet, and a car in my driveway.   Sure money’s tight, but if I could afford to visit two of the most expensive places on the planet in the last 2 years (London, England and New York City), I can’t really be doing that bad.

I AM EDUCATED

For me, it was never a question of IF I’d be going to college/university, but where and for what.  A lot of people don’t have that luxury.  Sure it was all funded by student loans, but that unfortunately, seems to be the norm.

I AM EXPERIENCED

During my Undergrad, I was fortunate enough to have a pretty sweet job that helped me figure out what I want to do, and helped me develop many skills that I use every day.  And I got paid really well, too.   Both Arts Management programs that I completed included (unpaid) internships; it sucked I had to work for free, but the experiences were well worth it.  I would have never got to where I am without them.

I ONLY HAVE 2 DEBTS

There’s my car loan, and my student loan.  That’s it.  No “bad” credit card or consumer debt raking up 20% interest each month for me!  My car loan has a low interest rate and is approximately 25% paid off. Thanks to OSAP’s Repayment Assistance, the payments I am making towards my student loan are going right to the principle – the government is currently “forgiving” my interest charges.  (Without it, my monthly payments wouldn’t even cover the interest charges, and my debt would actually be getting bigger each month.)

I’M NOT ALONE

Ok, maybe this isn’t really a good thing, but:

  • The average university student leaves school with close to $28,000 in debt [Source]
  • 58% of college and university students who take out loans to pay for their studies expect to graduate with more than $20,000 of debt;  21%, expect to graduate with more than $40,000 in debt [Source]
  • It takes the average student 14 years to pay back their student loans. [Source]
  • In Canada, the age groups most likely to hold debt were 25-34 year olds (84%) and 35-44 year olds (83%). [Source]
  • The average Canada Student Loan debt alone has increased 18% over the last five
    years. [Source]
  • Nearly two million Canadians have student loans totaling $20-billion. [Source]
  • Federal student loan debt alone is $14.8 billion – this does not include provincial or private loans. [Source]
  • Tuition fees keep going up.  In 2012, the average cost of a 4-year program is $42,000.  By 2030, it will nearly double to $73.700.  [Source]
(Please note: my research skills are pretty limited.  Many of the figures I came across were conflicting, so please take the above for example purposes only.)
 
But most importantly,

I’M (FINALLY) DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT

Up until about 6 weeks ago, I thought I had a fairly clear understanding of my finances. There was enough money coming in/in my bank account to pay my bills and feed myself, and I had even began paying down my student loan debt, so I assumed things were alright.  Then I started crunching the numbers, and tracking the pennies, and was shocked to learn that my money management skills actually kind of suck.  This year I spent a lot of money between moving to a more expensive apartment, buying a new bed, buying winter tires, joining a gym, screwing up my neck, going out of town – twice – for friends weddings, and going to New York City for a week – and  I didn’t budget for any of these things.  I’ve only been doing this personal finance thing for less than 2 months and I can already see a huge difference.  Imagine where I will be a year from now?

What’s Your Magic Number?

Amongst my current Personal Finance (PF) obsession, I stumbled upon this blog post – Work, Live What’s Most Important?.  I’m struggling with this whole thing pretty significantly at the moment.  I started to write a comment on the post, but it sort of took on a life its own, and thus it became this post instead.

The Financial Blogger, author of the post, included two graphs that show the “Average Number of Working Hours per Year” and the “Hours for Personal Care and Leisure per Day” for various countries [Source].   Compared to the average Canadian, I undoubtedly work more (300 to 400 hours more a year) and have less leisure/personal time (2 to 3 hours a day less).  And it’s awful.

Many PF blogs talk about finding your “magical income number”.   A few years back when I was reading The Happiness Project, the relationship between money and happiness was pretty prevalent as well.  This study by Princeton economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman has come up many times.  It states:

The magic income: $75,000 a year. As people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness rises. Until you hit $75,000. After that, it is just more stuff, with no gain in happiness.

(Note: The conclusion came from a series of Gallup surveys of 450,000 Americans in 2008 and 2009.)

I’m single, no kids, live in an affordable city, renting, and have no consumer debt – just a car payment and mortgage-sized student loan.  But trying to determine my “magical income number” feels rather impossible, and is extremely depressing.

I would be thrilled to be making $75K a year!  Especially if that was with only one job!  (Even though after taxes I would net more like $55K.) But my salary will NEVER reach that point.  Ever.  I’m pretty sure that my bosses don’t even make anywhere near that.  It’s extremely disheartening.  Even if I were to move to a bigger city, or bigger organization, I wouldn’t be making much – if any – more.  If I ever hope to make $75K a year, or even $55K a year, I’m going to need a new career.  Great…

I don’t regret my undergrad years at all.  Nor do I regret my year of post-grad.  But in retrospect, it took a lot of time, and an unreasonable amount of money to end up in a career that can’t even pay for itself.

Why am I sacrificing so much of my life (my health, my happiness, my relationships, my interests) to work all the time, to make insignificant payments towards a debt that will take decades to pay off?