Friday, January 05, 2007

Musings From The Dark Side

I have regained a bit of perspective since yesterday's moment of weakness when I contemplated continuing my pact with the devil. It's true Bubbles, Satan is calling me to do her bidding in the form of a new interesting case that would keep me in the rat race for at least 6 more months while the world and my life pass me by. I know this is true, hence my reference to the "Devil's Advocate."

See, I'm not miserable! I'm darkly humorous. In seriousness, a few of you have commented to me that I sound miserable and that I should get out. I hate that I sound miserable and I'm disappointed in myself for sending out vibes of miserableness into the universe through this blog. My feeling on people who are miserable has always been that they should stop bitching and whining and do something about the source of their misery. I hope that I have not sounded (in general) on this blog like I am just bitching and whining - eventhough that can sometimes be very therapeutic. When I talk about my job, and particularly Dragon Lady, I can understand how I sound miserable since I frequently express how much I hate it. Sometimes, like yesterday, I get down and I can also understand how talking about that could lead my readers to believe that I am miserable.

I don't think of myself as miserable. I can assure you that when I'm away from my job, in the evenings or on the weekends, I'm quite happy and engaged with the world. Even at work when I'm spewing off a tirade about how much I hate work, I'm not miserable. It actually gives me great happiness to be able to express how f-ed up I think everything about my job is.

However, there is more than a grain of truth in the assertion that I may be miserable because in some sense I guess I am. I'm miserable in the sense that I am very aware of how much of my potential I am wasting by staying at this firm, for not taking the plunge out of the rat race. I'm also afraid of what life on the other side would look like, and it makes me miserable at times to know that fear might be playing a roll in keeping me here. I'm just being honest.

I guess I would say that my soul is in a state of misery more often than it would like because of in large part my current position. However, I'm a lot stronger than I used to be, and whereas I felt genuinely miserable my first year at the firm, I've toughened up and no longer feel torn to emotional shreds by my daily reality.

I'm rambling, but being this introspective and contemplating the precise nature of my state of miserableness is challenging. It's going to take some more thought on my part. I'll think about it more this weekend.

I also wanted to respond to a comment by Racy Li who wrote: "Think of your job like an abusive boyfriend; you really want to stay with him because for various reasons it is helping you a lot, but the problem is he keeps bitch-slappin' you into the ground." Amen, sister. I hope you will not think of me as taking anything away from the experience of women who are actually in abusive relationships when I say that her words rang true. My firm and a lot of the people I work with are abusive, and they do attempt to rip you down as a way to keep you in line while at the same time occasionally pumping you up and dangling various carrots in front of your eyes.

This comment also got me thinking about what I get from this firm, and what the various reasons are that I stay. I guess I have stayed because of security (including financial security), prestige (god damned ambition!), my pro bono work (which is still continuing), the chance to gain experience, and the hope that this opportunity will open up other doors (which it has by, for example, allowing me to connect with public interest organizations through my pro bono work).

This afternoon I had tea with Sebastian, my friend who gave notice on Tuesday and in so doing became my idol. During our conversation, he commented that Eastern philosophers believe that happiness is attained through eliminating desire, not in the fulfillment of desire. Sebastian has been in this rat race for years, in large part due to the ambitions of youth which drove him to excel in school and at work. He told me that he believes that he has to eliminate that career ambition - that desire for prestige and professional success - in order to attain happiness. Essentially, he needs to turn his back on the allure of the rat race to attain a more meaningful life.

I am in complete agreement with Sebastian and I know in my heart that I need to do the same thing, ultimately, in order to attain a lasting happiness for myself. Sebastian has broken free, and for that he is my hero, but the rats still have their claws in me.

It's scary, bloody work to rip the rats away. They're claws run deep, and they bite when provoked.


starshine said...

Awesome introspection. It sounds like you're onto something here! I'll stay tuned.

Buttercup said...

Thanks Starshine! My thoughts have turned this afternoon to replacing these rats with much smaller ones - the hoped for result being that I will have more time for everything including ME and finding a job that I want. I'm thinking more strategically and contemplating, dare I say it, jumping ship for another firm.

I conferred with Em. She thinks I'm miserable at my job. Not in general (!) but miserable at this job. Interesting.

gravelly said...

I didn't think you sounded miserable yesterday: with the new case, there seemed to be a spark which had the chance of becoming a flame, and the opportunity to work with different people, the chance to learn and have a positive experience, although brief, from being at the firm. Seemed like a challenge that you would enjoy,??

Anonymous said...

I agree, you didnt sound miserable. Just like Mrs Duck doesnt always sound miserable, sometimes she gets things accomplished at the helps her get thru another week at work.

Maybe its balance, Buttercup, dont just jump at the first thing that looks good that comes along. Balance the job with the other things that make you happy out of it.

damn, now im sounding introspective

Racy Li said...

Wow I'm just glad I can help :) I don't think it takes anything away from women in abusive relationships because as the Great Depression and Japanese salaryman suicides have shown, a job can have just as great as an effect on your emotional well-being as a spouse.

I hear you about the prestige. I remember the prestige thing too.
It's nice to be able to say, "Yes, I work for WeScrewEveryone LLC," and have other people go 'oh wow.' It's a very nice corporate NY thing to be able to do. But really, is all that emotional jerking back and forth of 60-70-80 hrs a week worth it that 30 secs of "oh wow"? Plus, you have to realize that outside of law, nobody really knows the difference between Sullen and Crapper or Skeezy Assholes Steal Meager Flotsam (yea I'm just a tad bitter). It's not like you're working for Google (at which point everyone really goes oooo).

Just think. If you stay with your firm, you will spend more hours of your life with your firm than any significant other or even your kids. You gonna sit there and take it that emotional abuse for those once in awhile 30 secs of "ooo you work for them?"

Buttercup said...

Gravelly - I've done further thinking and I'm fairly certain I would not enjoy it.

Sparky - I hear you about not jumping. It's funny though, I've been here for over 2 years. I think now is my time to move.

Racy Li - I agree with all of those comments. Just to clarify, when I said "prestige," it's not that I give a rat's ass about anyone recognizing my firm. I was thinking about it more in terms of being in a position where I can use the prestige of my firm to get to a job that I want to do - and that by quitting my firm I would be letting go of that potential benefit. However, really the firm is not going to open the type of doors I want opened... so it's silly reason to stay.

Gypsy said...

Sounds like you are on the road to enlightenment, grasshopper. ;) I don't think you're miserable, exactly. I just think you can do better, you can find something that nourishes you in a way this job never will. I'm sure you could "toughen up" enough to keep doing this job for years and years and be just vaguely unhappy or unfulfilled. But do you want to be that tough?

Buttercup said...

Gypsy - No, I don't want to be that tough. I'm tough enough. :)