Creativity And My Job: I Want All Or Nothing

First things first, I’m on a spending fast and I gotta be accountable to myself on here. I had an intense week, but I’m really pleased to see that the little line calendar line on Mint is closer to the middle of my budget sections, and the bars in those budgets didn’t budget at all this week.

9.13 budgets

I used my pre-paid Amex on Thursday to get a sandwich because I had no time to pull something together in the morning AND get all my stuff at work done, so now I’m down by $8 from my $200 allowance for food this month. I feel STUPID about it, but at the time, survival was more important than dipping into that money. My husband has been helpful by bringing home food from events and picking up takeout when I was too burned out to throw some beans in a pot. On Thursday night my ghostwriting client took us out for an upscale seafood dinner at Atlantic Fish on Boylston. I haven’t gone out to a nice restaurant since my honeymoon, so I had to work really hard to contain my excitement when I was asked to pick out the bottle of wine for the table. I ordered a 2012 Vermentino and savored every sweet, slightly briny and lightly effervescent sip I took between eating lobster & avocado salad and seared salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus.  It was a really nice reward for working really hard all week.

Speaking of Work…

This week I spent 52 hours sitting on my ass in front of a computer working. When I came home each day, I couldn’t handle looking at a computer again, so I passed up blogging opportunities. I didn’t finish all of my work, so I had to bring home my laptop to finish editing invoices by Monday.

Yesterday, I had my annual review. It was scheduled for 9am, and before I left my apartment, I was psyched up for it, prepared for criticism, and ready to bring up the fact that I would rather focus my work more on accounting instead of marketing. At 8:30am, one of my reviewers asked if we could move it back to 1:30. Half an hour before the review? Ouch! Before I responded “Sure, that’s fine,” I was thinking “Do I have a choice?”. It knocked me down a little bit and immediately made me lose a little of the mental momentum that propelled me to feel prepared to have a smooth, well-said and productive discussion. Losing that momentum and spending the morning anxiously over thinking about what I would say probably explains why I CRIED for godsakes in the middle of the review. All of my ratings fell in the category of meeting or exceeding expectations, but when we arrived at the point where I needed to set goals for the coming year, I broke it to my reviewers that I wasn’t so sure that I could clearly do that because I was more interested in accounting, my responsibilities are split 70-30, heavy on accounting since the controller is out on maternity leave, and that I thought we’d need to reassess my position overall. One of the reviewers was “surprised” because of my “creative background.” That made me want to cry even more, but when I looked around the room for tissues and realized I was in a conference room and not in a therapy session, I cut it out. Afterwards, I told a co-worker about it, and she reassured me that she had cried in all of her reviews. Womanhood sucks.

I’m sick of people thinking that a creative background in writing or the arts means you have the ability to apply it to a corporate environment in a stylish way and thrive. Sure, creative people can be marketed by corporations, they can be members of the board, etc., but for me — an employee that doesn’t actually create — the concept of a corporate environment is antithetical to creativity unless it pertains to being tricky with getting more money out of pockets. Creativity almost feels like manipulation instead of having a genuinely good idea that revolutionizes the business and revamps the playing field — that’s innovation, and an entirely different egg to crack.

The marketing work I’ve been doing has been surrounded by rigid limitations and confines, and it has distanced me from where innovative minds hang out and make decisions. I work with Adobe InDesign, which is an awesome program, and I love writing and editing, but there’s nothing creative about inputting, formatting, and editing a pre-determined formulaic text that appeals to the corporate sensibility of the real estate world. I’ve found that I can only repeat the same ten words about different (but awfully similar) projects or concepts a few times before I stare blankly at the computer screen as I type and feel a total disconnect between the formula I’m punching the words into and the description on the page it will create. I draft, organize, print, collate, bind, and submit proposals for new work, and even though I put the whole thing together and coordinate the whole process, I feel like I have no real ownership of the work that went into making the whole thing happen. I’ve learned that for me, creativity and the corporate setting are contradictory. I want all or nothing. I can’t forgo my own interpretation and expression in favor of a stroking a lump of words that I know add up to “what they want to hear”, “they” being prospective clients. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE clients. I love the money they give my company in exchange for services, but I don’t want to be the funnel through which communications with them passes.

My work in accounting on the other hand gives me much more satisfaction and enables me to have control over a process where there’s always a right answer, always (sometimes not) a great result (money!), and there is no blatant lie about the creativity involved with the job. When I worked at the restaurant, I remember being kind of envious of the girl who worked on the books. When she left and there was a new bookkeeper brought in, we worked together and I really enjoyed crunching numbers and *thinking* about the strategic decisions I would make with the business’s money, but not being able to say anything about it because at the end of the day — wasn’t my problem! Even though I got fucked over by some decisions that I made about money while there. I’m actually a little wrong about there being no creativity in accounting. I’ve been able to use creative and strategic thinking in application to developing approaches and processes for handling the way I get things done while the Controller is out on maternity leave, and there’s a lot of gratifying pay-off in seeing those processes in action actually work.

The rest of the year will probably be a bit of a challenge at work, but I’m ready to work through it and get what I want. As a member of the economically screwed over generation, I’ve heard that I’m very lucky to have a job. It would be a shame to do something stupid to sabotage it, but in the long term it would be even stupider to put up with it and spend the coming years unsatisfied with what I’m doing with my life. Essentially grounding myself from going out and doing things on the weekend that usually desensitize me from over thinking possibilities and outcomes has actually been productive. In more ways than one, I’m making the most out of not spending money, and I’m really thinking about my current situation and the future. Warning: Only do that if you are 100% ready. It’s terrifying.

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