I was talking to an acquaintance (that same professional acquaintance that reads my blog and deems I am cerebral) about work. His is a thrilling chaotic philanthropic crusade, constantly networking, organizing BIG fundraisers, and making a tangible monetary difference in the lives of many sick children and adults. He never stops. His stories trigger so many feels: the real kind, sweet and sorrowful that squeeze your heart so that you can’t take a deep breath. My stories are about… accounting. Big projects that at the end of the day… nobody gives a shit about because accounting doesn’t generate cash, ops does (nobody gives a shit about accounting until cash is involved – the need for financing, applying for a refunding tax credit for R&D, fraud… then suddenly accounting becomes a hot topic). I pour myself into my work, waging mental sparring wars with people that outrank me, pushing/prodding/pleading coworkers across the organization to work together cross-functionally to improve efficiency and processes.
“Is it worth dying for” my acquaintance asked me the day before I got on the plane to go to Paris. Oye. Nope. He clearly feels his work is worth dying for, which is why he is able to devote time, effort and seemingly endless energy to push through road blocks and make change. “So why are you doing it?” Million dollar question. That question was never far from my mind as I spent these last 10 days working my ass off, getting into many arguments with my French coworkers, frequently enraged and frustrated, with an unmanageable to-do list.
Part of it is the thrill of tight (impossible?) deadlines on projects that allow me to showcase my intelligence (#modest). Tell me I have to prove something, and you don’t think it can be done? Ha! Imma show you – and the “you” can be anyone from a junior accountant to the CFO of the company, doesn’t matter, I will prove them wrong. I love being thrown at a scenario where I know little, yet am required to make an educated decision that I must defend – a game of logic, probabilities and information processing. Professional judgment – my two favorite words.
Part of it is my team, my cuties. They are so young, at the start of their careers. They are like blank canvases, that I can work away at to reveal their underlying masterpieces. I can’t explain how proud and delighted it makes me to watch them apply my coaching and feedback, morphing from sweet babies straight out of uni into self-sufficient, responsible, reliable team players. Coaching them on how to problem solve certain scenarios, how to better respond/communicate, to view themselves as trusted advisors for the business. To see instances where they believe that they are trusted advisors for the business – its only a matter of time before they fully believe it. Watching their journey, and knowing that I am positively influencing it to the best of my abilities, is possibly the best part of each day.
Part of it, at least on this trip, was the realization that I could be fully myself, integrated in my contradictions, and yet people still enjoy me. Or they don’t, but that’s ok, because they respect me, both because I deserve it, and expect it as my due. I might be 32, but the concept of being liked for myself is one I still have trouble grasping. Yet I went to Madrid, struggled with anxiety and vulnerability, and still found myself with new friends and great memories. In Paris, I met a plethora of coworkers I’d never properly interacted with, and culture shock notwithstanding… it was good. Really good.
Part of it was walking the streets of Paris, breathing in the bougie air, surrounded by beauty, eating 1-5 croissants a day. My father was born in Paris, his brothers before him; my grandparents were part of a great influx of Russians in France post-Russian revolution & WWII. They lived there for several years. I walked by the apartment where they lived, the cathedral where my grandfather served as deacon and my father and uncles were baptised. France influenced my family’s history, both in Paris and in Quebec – it is impossible to dissociate my province’s history from that of its’ former colonizer. This was my 5th time in Paris. Every time, I feel a part of my identity awaken from a perma-siesta. I need to be there. I have a Big Dream, for the first time since all this depression shit, 6+ years ago: I want to move to Paris, in the nearish future (next 2-3 years).
There you have it. That is why I do what I do. It makes me feel alive, which is a new sensation after spending 1/5th of my life struggling with depression. When I feel alive, I feel joy. Non-stop, vibrating through me, even as I feel all kinds of other emotions. Joy-rage. Joy-frustration. Joy-exhaustion. Joy-stress. I might not have found (yet) something worth dying for, but for the first time in 32 years, I’ve built myself a life worth living for.
Imma enjoy this, for now.
I highly recommend this comic strip (“How to be perfectly unhappy”) by the Oatmeal. That is exactly it.