Life is full of epiphanies. Sure, some may just be flickering “oh” moments, but some turn out to be ginormous “holy effing shit” revelations. They become the orange cones that land in the path and block us from smashing into a wall or falling into a pit as we struggle, blindly groping along. Like moles. Poor moles.
Well, last week I had one of the big ones. Bigger even than the moment I realized that at the doctor’s office, the needle itself was causing me less detriment than the act of hiding from the shot under the examining room table. While quivering in terror. Way past the age when that is expected. Or the day I realized medium roast coffee has more caffeine than dark roast coffee (true story, look it up). And though not to downplay the impact of increasing my per ounce caffeine intake (it has been substantial), last week’s epiphany was definitely the most profound in recent memory. What great revelation bitch slapped clarity across my cheek? It was this: I would rather be trampled by a stampede of rhinos, gored by a tusk, and left to bake in the sun of the Serengeti than take a promotion in my current office.
I am quite possibly the only analyst since the invention of the spreadsheet to have spent weeks at work consumed by the desire NOT to be promoted. Each candidate who came in to interview became a beacon of hope. Each conversation with my boss where it didn’t come up, a relief. And because I so profoundly did not want the offer, I got it last week.
Now it may seem that the very existence of this blog communicates an acknowledgment of the fact that I am not on the right career path. That is true. What is also true is that I was not entirely comfortable with that recognition. And in the presence of an actual offer, practicality began to rear its pimply little head. I could always do it just for a year, just for the resume. Could be interesting. How would I know? I’ve never been in that exact role before. I can’t sabotage my whole career, opt out of a new title and bigger responsibilities and continue trudging through the monotonous sewage of the analytical gallows.
That’s when the team’s VP interrupted my muddle of thoughts to ask if I was planning to take it. My gut heard my mouth mumble some sort of weak affirmative. That’s when the epiphany roared in like a freight train full of flashlights. I began to wish my window had a latch so I could jump out. Then I began to wonder if I could really kill myself from the second story. Then I began to think about life as a paraplegic. That’s when I decided the rhino would be a more reliable alternative.
As soon as I said I’d do it, I knew without a doubt that I could not take one more step down a career path I had no desire to be on. Suddenly, the coveted Category Manager role became equivocal to a lifetime sentence in the penitentiary of corporate life. Climbing one rung higher would only make it scarier to jump off the ladder. I had a “holy effing shit” kind of epiphany at 4pm on a Thursday and basking in the new glow of clarity I went home for the day.
Now, I’d love to be able to say that I snuggled up with my epiphany and slept like baby Tarzan cradled by his gorilla mamma, but unfortunately even the most profound epiphanies have an extremely targeted point of impact.
Just because I felt like I’d been pummeled to the ground by astronomical debris did not mean that the tremors of my new wisdom had spread spontaneously to those in my vicinity. My career driven boss with a reputation for being, err, let’s just say “less than pleasant”, was still expecting a signed offer letter. I slept in fits like someone dying of one of those medieval fevers. Nightmares. Tossing. Turning. Rhinos.
But the next morning, though I looked like both eyes had lost a boxing match, I played every song in my “Anna, you ARE a badass” playlist. I marched into my boss’ office (ok, I actually marched to the hall right outside her office and paused to take so many deep breaths that I nearly passed out right there, but eventually I made it into her office). After about 10 blurry minutes of confessionary verbal vomit on my part and about 2 blurry minutes of surprised acceptance on her part, I emerged from the room not only intact, but also entirely liberated.
I am out of the closet. This analyst is off the career path and everyone knows it.