My daughters’ friends call me “Pastor Dad.” I LOVE that they see me this way, but I am far from perfect. But enough about me- read on (especially if you’re a parent)…
All right, so imagine that this is your life- and you’ve had a rough few weeks.
First- you’re up every morning at the crack of dawn (or nearly) to get ready. You then scarf down something that’s supposed to be a breakfast while you hurriedly finish up some of the work you took home with you last night. After another quick check in with your supervisors before you head out the door, you lumber out to the bus stop to catch the same noisy, almost inhumanely hard and uncomfortable public transportation that might or might not even have working heat or a/c.
As your back has endured every bump and pothole between your home and work, you check in with your first boss (you have seven of them- bosses that is. (Not counting the higher ups.) The number of bosses you have is one of the most challenging aspects of your job. Every one of them has different expectations of you, and you’ve got to keep it all straight, which is made even harder because some of those you answer to are “old school” and don’t like you using anything electronic to write stuff down/ keep track of due dates during meetings.
And- oh my God- the DUE DATES!- just deadline after deadline, and it rarely seems like your bosses even talk to each other. All of a sudden “wham!” Three of them are demanding you get the project done at the same time and sometimes by the very next day! It can be enough to make you scream! And worse yet- you can expect to be given “skills profiles” on a near continual basis as you make your way through these meetings- sometimes without warning. Most of these evaluations are in written form but they can often be verbal- sometimes done in front of all of your co-workers!
And your co workers can be just brutal, often taking advantage of any opportunity to criticize or even mock/ talk behind your back/ ready to “label” you and then work to get the buy in of others to believe it. This somehow makes them feel better about themselves, you guess. It’s a fact of life, but it really sucks and you’d wish they’d just leave you alone. The most frustrating associates are the few that are just masters of office politics and have the power to do almost anyone harm without consequence.
You have dozens of coworkers alongside you in each of these meetings and you have hundreds altogether. Not all are bad by any means. Some of them are nice-even good friends. But some of them just treat you hatefully and you don’t even know why. You fear one or two might even be psychotic. But, they’ve got to practically assault someone before this company will let them go, and sometimes- even with good intentions- the bosses can’t get to these people before they fall through the cracks and hurt themselves or others. Danger doesn’t dominate your day, but you know…you see the news. It’s in the way back of your mind as you just try to tread the daily water ad survive.
Most days, you’ve got about a five minute break in between meetings, which is the only time you get out of your seat on many days. To make matters worse, because of the shift they’re having you work this time around, your ‘lunch’ break with your buddies takes place at 10 a.m. As usual, you’re hardly hungry at this time but you know if you don’t eat now, you won’t have another chance the rest of the day because they’re gonna keep you so busy.
By the time the final whistle blows after your 7th intense meeting of the day, you collect pages full of notes, and though you’ve done everything you can to prevent it- there’s always work to take home. Many of the bosses here expect it. They remind you it’s the only way you’ll get by or succeed at this company.
And success is just so hard to obtain. The old timers here talk about how back in the day, you could make a living by staying in the top 25-30% of performers, but that’s not true anymore. Only ones who get taken on to the best positions perform in top 10% at least, top 5% more likely. Sometimes that’s not even enough- they want to evaluate you based on all of the extra stuff you’ve done- the ‘civic volunteerism’ and activities and so on. Every one of these things takes you away from your family.
And-the kicker- near the end of your first four year cycle, every employee has to complete the largest “Skills Profile” yet. It’s a day-long examination. It’s based more on the foundational theories of all you’ve been trained to do than the actual knowledge, so you can study techniques to take it well, but there’s no way to know what will be specifically covered. It’s really hard and most don’t come close to passing. But it has a huge impact on whether you’ll ever be promoted or how much money you’ll receive once there. It’s not too prevalent, but some employees in the past have committed suicide over a bad score.
Oh- and you don’t get paid much here either. A lot of your co workers take on a second job to help make ends meet. Recently, you’ve been thinking you may have to do the same thing yourself. You’d love to have the extra cash, but you’re barely getting your workload done as it is. Plus, you don’t own your own car so it’s public transportation and ride sharing every time, both of which can be annoying and difficult to arrange sometimes.
The hours, the constant stress, the days that bring social isolation, the constant evaluation, the lack of pay…sometimes it can just seem like it’s too much! You know it’s wrong, but you’ve even lashed out at some of your closest friends and supervisors. Even though you know they care about your well-being, they often admit they just don’t understand or relate. Your attitude (and sometimes, your behavior) is bad and you know it, but you just don’t even have the energy and focus most days to deal with it honestly.
So, you do what you always do. You say your prayers that night before you go to bed.
And tomorrow- the alarm will go off at the crack of dawn- and you will go out and do it all over again.
Let me ask you this- how many of you would continue in a job/ life like this? Well…
…welcome to the life of your teenager.
Yes- you lived through it. I lived through it. (And no, it probably wasn’t all that bad.) But sometimes it’s just good to remember what it was like, and maybe evaluate some of the challenges they face now that we might not have when we were their age. Putting it in the context of what you face daily now might help you to better relate.
So- here’s some of the best advice I can give- maybe the next time that hormonal, angry, seemingly selfish kid you until recently thought was the sweetest girl or boy a mother or father could have mouths off at you or slams something, or seems distracted or doesn’t do what you’ve asked for the 15th time (today!)– step into their world for a second. They are your kid, but they’re also a small (ish) human. If you lived their day, you might be just as snippy.
Sometimes, they need your affirmation or even just your arms and a kiss on the head. You can remind them they are loved by you and by the Heavenly Father who understands every thought and hurt they are feeling while possessing no fear about their future. They are the apple of His eye. (And yours.)
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. “