Woke up in a panic at 2 a.m. – then I remembered, I’m going to be fine.

vultures-overhead-modI woke up this morning in a cold sweat around 2 a.m. I was starting to panic about the prospect of looking for a new job. I’ve done this so often… and I was hoping with all my might that this job I have now would be the very last job I’d ever have to look for — because the employer was supposedly so stable and dependable.

Then, three months in, they announced that they’d be merging with someone else. And becoming bigger, “leaner” and supposedly better.

It doesn’t feel hopeful to me. It feels like vultures are circling overhead. Waiting to see who will get picked off. It’s already been happening.

And it’s a problem. Not just because it’s sucking all motivation and joy out of the work I love to do, but also because it makes everything I do there feel like a waste, rather than an investment. I feel like no matter what I do, it’s not going to matter, in the grand scheme of things. And all the effort I put into it is going to waste.

That’s not something I can afford to do, at this point in my life. I need to stay current and sharp. I also need a team to work with.

One thing that this job has taught me, is that I really do thrive in teams. I never used to be that way, until I started my TBI rehab in 2008. Before that, I was always a loner, always on the outside, never really able to connect with others, because of my communication problems — slow processing speed and poor short-term working memory. It’s really hard to work effectively with others, when you constantly forget what people are saying, and you also are so wiped out at the end of each day, that the cumulative fatigue just kills whatever spark you have, by the time Thursday rolls around.

I’ve been muddling along, with maybe 2-3 good days per week, for years. Small wonder, I never felt up to the challenge of working with others.

But since I’ve done my mild TBI rehab, I now have ways to augment my limitations and work around them. I  now have ways to compensate, improve, and also avoid situations that wreck me.

And as it turns out, I work really well with teams. I’m a great team leader. I’m a great project manager. And I absolutely thrive in the company of geeks and nerds and people who the rest of the world thinks are odd.

This job that I have now would have been perfect for me, 10 years ago, when all I wanted to do was find a corner to work in and not have anything to do with anyone else. Just do my work in isolation, not worried by communication disconnects, not concerned with memory issues, because I was off by myself.

Now, though, I realize that I really do need to work with an established team. I need other like-minded people to interact with on a regular basis. And I need to be in charge of leading people towards a common goal. Hands-on, in the trenches, together with other joyously iconoclastic oddballs, like myself.

So, this job has been a great lesson, in so many ways.

Figuring out what you don’t want to do is the first step to figuring out what you do want to do. And now I’ve got that first part figured out.



Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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