"I can't do this anymore," I thought to myself on my Monday morning work commute. The anxiety began like clockwork every Sunday evening as I anticipated the endless microaggressions and Machiavellian-level psychological Olympics that had become the norm of my career experience. I felt crazy, like in an Emperor's New Clothes type of situation. "Doesn't anyone else see this?" I thought. Even if they did, they wouldn't dare speak up. Dissenters were penalized and berated, their careers strategically undermined with the kind of slick manipulation that just narrowly escapes policy violation and makes it impossible to call out or nail down without personal penalty. It was a toxic work environment, but not any more or less toxic than any other organization. "That's just the way it is," echoed my composite of countless well-meaning mentors and advisors when I consulted them about the struggle.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I hadn't left.
The fact is, there is a system in place and navigating within it requires a level of compromise, especially if you're black. The cost of being 'woke' within this structure is steep and the personal returns are dire. As James Baldwin put it, "To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time."[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Photo: Giphy[/caption]
This is the second installment of 'Am I doing this right?'
The transition into adulthood isn’t an easy one. Navigating relationships, managing workplace politics, hitting those milestones on schedule— don’t be fooled, no one knows what they’re doing. There will be all kinds of fumbles, blunders and awkward missteps along the way. If you're constantly wondering to yourself, “Am I doing this right?” Welcome. This is just the place for you.