Warning: This article contains analogies. A lot of them.
On paper, the job I started for WP Buffs in May looked ideal.
Community building and writing are right in line with my skill set. The added bonus of support for my additional community projects was, well, an added bonus.
There had been some concerns from the first conversation as I was taking over for a friend who’s departure had been painful. But she and I had quality conversations. The issues were openly discussed in the interview process. Overall, second chances seemed in order.
Analogy 1: Sometimes a job doesn’t taste as good as it looks.
Have you ever ordered that item off the menu that just looks divine? It has all your favorite ingredients and your mouth is just watering to taste it. And then you take that first bite. It’s not bad, you could eat it, but it’s not what you were hoping for.
That’s where I found myself.
Onboarding was hard because onboarding is hard. It’s a lot of figuring out what you don’t know and what you need to do differently and making those changes. Maybe some people find that exciting? For me, it’s just frustrating.
Through it all I was treated with patience and respect, and I knew I wouldn’t be onboarding forever. Hallelujah.
Analogy 2: Sometimes a job is like an itchy, too-small sweater.
Ever been out shopping and seen the PERFECT sweater. You love the color. The price is right. Of course you’re trying it on. And oh the disappointment!! It’s well made, gorgeous, everything you hoped for, but the fit is just off. The seams fall wrong, the length is awkward, and is the wool actually giving you a rash???
Sure, you could make it work. Maybe it would stretch a little with wear, but in the end you just can’t change what it’s made out of.
That was my move into project work.
Things were going well. Feedback was kind and reasonable adjustments were asked for in a polite way. Effort was made to help me feel valued, welcome, and encouraged.
Unfortunately, there was an underlying dynamic to the culture that was never going to fit me.
I’d had some concerns about it and discussed it in my second interview. We decided to give it a try. Maybe it would fit after all. But the further I got away from onboarding and into the actual day-to-day, the more it showed up.
There’s a dynamic to the culture that is too much like a startup. As someone who’d spent most of the last 10 years in that world, I knew it wasn’t a fit for me, and not something that could be — or should be — changed.
Some people thrive on that energy and dynamic. I don’t.
Instead of feeling a positive push forward, I spend every day feeling like I’m not doing enough. That I’ll never be able to do enough. That everything I give will just be met with, “What else have you got?”
Analogy 3: Sometimes you’re a coffee shop person working a night club job.
Atmosphere matters. If you’re someone who thrives in calm, steadiness, you’re going to struggle in a loud, thumping setting. When others feel energized, you’ll feel drained. It’s not the night club’s fault. It needs to stay what it is because there are people who need that environment. But that doesn’t mean it has to be right for you.
To be fair, no one ever said those words to me, and I don’t think they ever would have. If I’d asked, adjustments would have been made to give me space. But it would likely have been an ongoing tug of war.
It was a thumping culture, and it exhausted my calm, steady self.
I checked and double checked if there were any elements of the job that could be changed that would make this work. But in the end, the answer was no.
And they asked. They offered me every option to stay on and make this work. To be honest, it was hard to say no. I LIKE them. They’re nice people. We’re parting as friends with plans to collaborate down the road.
They asked me to stay, offered concessions, and in the end respected what was best for me.
Analogy 4: Sometimes no matter how much you like the other person, they’re not someone you have a future with.
The online profile looked great. You have so much in common. You like the same food, the same movies, and share the same desire to help others.Unfortunately, sometimes the right spark just isn’t there. And you can’t fix that.
But I still got out as fast as I could.
I had hit a spot between projects. All of my writing was done and I’d completed the setup for a longer term project. Leaving now left them in more of a bind than I would have liked, but if I didn’t go then, I would be committed for another 3 months. I couldn’t do that.
However, I also left them with multiple resources to consider to fill my role and documentation on implementing what I was leaving them with.
None of it was ideal, but I had to go. If I stayed, I’d be a mental mess in 3 months. If I didn’t go quickly, I’d guilt myself into staying. Please note, they didn’t guilt me once. I’m perfectly capable of doing that all on my own.
I knew it was a less than ideal place for me to leave. I felt a pull to stay because it would help them. That’s how I’m wired. But I didn’t, because helping them was going to hurt me, and that’s a choice I don’t make anymore.
So, what’s next?
It’s going to be easy to think I left WP Buffs to work on the HeroPress Network. I didn’t.
The timing falls that I have free time and there’s HeroPress work to be done. There are some things I can do from outside of WP Buffs that will benefit them as well as the rest of the WordPress community. I’m really excited about that.
I’ll continue working with WordFest Live, because, well, mental health matters to me, even when maintaining it leads to some painful choices. And don’t be fooled. This choice hurt.
I’ve been grateful for the support I’ve received from the community so far. I’ve had people reach out to me, appreciating the step I took. I hope it makes it easier for others to make positive choices to improve their lives, too.
WordPress is full of options. Sometimes we have to try some things and take some risks to find out what fits best.