Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year

I'm not sure why I never seem to be able to settle into anything for very long.

There's something in my soul that makes me want to wander, to change things, to throw everything in the air, see where it lands, and then pick it up and rearrange it all. I'm constantly seeking improvement. Sometimes, that works out well, and sometimes, it results in moving backward.

Over the last year I've been to Canada, Washington State, Belize, and Oregon. I've changed jobs four times. I've started another blog and website in order to launch my own consulting business: virtual assistant, HR, etc.. I've also been engaged, and am now married. I've had five different health insurance plans. I picked up two new certifications: the SHRM-CP, and a Notary Public Commission. My husband and I are expecting our first baby in March. A second boy for me. It's been quite the interesting year.

While I'm excited about bringing this new life into the world, I'm also sort of burned out. I'm 35, almost 36, and over the last year, I left a really secure position with people I care about to take a risk on a startup that turned out to be a bust. Then, I got picked up and dropped by a second startup. I have a long history of long employment terms so encountering that kind of rejection, and/or failure of good decision-making, is pretty epic for me.

What I've painfully learned over the last 6 months is that startups are not a really great place for someone who is pregnant unless you're the one running the startup. Even if the hiring team says that they're a "family company" and supportive of pregnant mothers, that they'll support a decent maternity leave (during interviews I asked for 6 weeks of leave/work from home because no daycare will take a baby under 6 weeks and both times was told that it wouldn't be a problem, we'd work it out closer to the time) and that they want to make changes to their culture and things, it's quite likely to be untrue when you get down to putting action where words have been.

When I told one of my former bosses that I was going to leave my secure position to go work for more startups and that I wanted to have another baby pretty soon, he told me, "If you get pregnant at a startup, they'll fire you." I thought that that couldn't possibly be true. I mean, what a gross, backwards, sexist thing for anyone to do, right? Especially, if the leadership at the company were married with children themselves. But, as it turns out, my old boss was right and I was the one mistaken.

I mean, this is the tech scene (known for its treatment of women) and this is Texas (also known for its treatment of women). Even if I'm in Austin, the liberal blue oasis in the middle of the wasteland of red conservativism, I'll still find myself hired to do a job, not given the proper tools or support to do that job (e.g. at one I didn't even have a work computer for the first three days, and then I wasn't given access to the software I was supposed to use for weeks), marginalized (e.g. they stopped giving me assignments because they knew I'd be going on leave in a few months and I guess they thought that made me incapable in the present), not given the same due process that other employees at the same company got (e.g. while others got a write up and a performance improvement plan, I was only told "we're going another direction with your position" and no notes for improvement) and then fired a month before I'm due to bring a child into the world.

I'm pretty disappointed with the tech scene and startups currently, but I know that it has more to do with the failure of the leadership of these particular places, than it does with me personally or my health status, or all startups everywhere. I know that eventually I'll probably find my way back into those verticals. Startups and tech are exciting places to be. It's the only genre of work I've experienced so far where I was never bored and I felt consistently challenged to grow and change and be more. I am a hard-working, smart, talented, loyal person who's not afraid to start off at the bottom and work my way up. It only stands to reason that I'll find the right job or vice versa, when I'm ready.

It's easy for me to fall into depression at times like this, but I'm trying to look at this as a re-grouping time, a time to gather more information, to finish projects previously half-done, and to rest. It's hard for me, someone who's used to being really active and really busy, to not have anywhere in particular to be for the majority of the day. It's also hard to get used to actually having the time to do chores and small projects. I could very well write the great American novel over the next few weeks or months, or maybe a children's book or two. I've been volunteering some, and I'm also looking forward to taking on some contract assignments and get more exposure to different people and ideas.

The great thing about life, like Texas weather, is that if you keep moving and give it some time, it'll change. So, I'm working towards ensuring the changes that happen are the ones I want.


  1. Wow, Holly! Sorry to hear you were fired. I was, too! (At the end of January...) It does suck but I think it's clear that new opportunities will arrive and in the meantime -- hey, you get to take more than 6 weeks of maternity leave! Six weeks is not nearly enough and it's sickening that companies don't even want to give that much. Let's chat soon -- I guess we both have an abundance of free time at the moment! Enjoy it while it lasts.

  2. Thanks Michelle. :) Looking forward to catching up soon. :)