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Mental Wellness

Taking Myself Out of the Middle (of Management)

When I told people I was leaving my salaried, full-time with benefits job to be an independent contracted therapist on my OWN, I heard from a number of people

“Jenn you’re so brave going out on your own”

“What a Boss Bitch move!”

and my favorite, “Yes Queen — Hustle!”

But what I haven’t heard, and truthfully, at this point, I don’t want to is… “I’m sorry it didn’t work out.” I don’t need the sympathy, nor the condolences because this is one loss I am so happy to accept.

For much of my career, in fact, all of it, all I have ever really wanted was a leadership position. I fought tooth and nail in several different positions to have something with more responsibility, more oversight, and more power. Some of my supervisors and bosses had even said to me, “Jenn, I don’t think you’re ready for a leadership position” and while I could sit here and lament about why I wish I listened to them, I’m very glad that I didn’t. I had to get to this place in my career on my own, and learn a very hard lesson the old fashioned way — through actual lived experience.

Anyone who has known me, professionally and personally, know that I work hard, diligently, and efficiently… which has only sometimes worked in my favor. Sometimes it landed me with more work and less responsibility and leadership. When it had finally placed me in a position with leadership, like it had in this last year, I was very surprised at my response. I actually hated it.

Being a “clinical director” was my dream job. Until everyday was a personal nightmare. I want to preface that NONE of my feelings were caused by the practice nor the tasks themselves. In fact, I still love all the work being done there and frequently refer to their services. I had always liked the idea of teaching, guiding, leading. I spent many years as a group facilitator for various organizations to build better communication skills and trust among their staff members. I first thought, “if I can lead large groups, I should be able to lead a small group of therapists…this would be great, I can develop and mobilize systems that will make the practice run smoother, quicker, produce better results; and it worked…” until it didn’t. I quickly developed the daily headache of what it truly meant to be “middle management.

What I found out was that no one wanted to work nearly as hard as I did. (The hardest pill yet for me to swallow.) And this isn’t even the first time I had bumped up against this work-ethic dilemma, so I should have really seen this coming! What I didn’t anticipate was how quickly those who DIDN’T want to work the way I did, would turn on me and low-key revolt against and undermine me. At first I thought I should adjust my angle, meet them where they are at. Didn’t work. Then, I thought, OK, maybe I need to hear their ideas and see if I can incorporate it into my system changes. Didn’t work because no one talked to me. My next step was to just go back to the way I wanted to do things initially, come down a little bit more firm on people, but remind them that I was human. Spoiler alert: that didn’t work either. The balancing act between meeting their needs and my bosses expectations was exhausting. I was mitigating and juggling way too many things and realized, this isn’t leadership… this is hell, and I’m trapped.

Finally, after much resolve (and maybe a minor mental breakdown), I decided to leave the position.

I told my boss that this job was not right for me. I was very honest and admitted that this has been a problem I have had my entire life. “I just don’t work well with others.” To anyone here who is a recovering Gifted Student — you know what I’m talking about. I had such a hard time trusting that others would get things done the way I needed them to be done, or that the information they were telling me was accurate, or that things would get done timely and correctly. As someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I was thinking about work — ALL THE TIME and it was really stressing me out. I was overthinking, overanalyzing, and overwhelming myself to the point that it took a toll on my health. I started medication to help with the intrusive thoughts, but honestly, it just masked what I already knew to be true, that this job could not be effectively executed by me simply because of who I am.

Last year, I knew it was time to step away.

Step out of the middle and get myself unstuck.

Today I write this from my OWN office, on my OWN terms, in my OWN way. And I gotta say… it feels amazing.

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by JennAngel1

My name is Jenn (she/her/hers) and I am 37 years old born, raised, and living in Massachusetts. I've worked in the mental health field since 2009; currently I am the owner of my own private practice, Triplicity Empowerment Coaching where I provide mental health services to people of all ages and additionally provide parent coaching, college coaching, and sibling support. In addition to this, I am also a freelance trainer/ facility for the Life is Good Playmaker Project - it is the not for profit arm of Life is Good (apparel store) that supports folks in early education, child care, behavioral health and child life specialists. In the last 7 years, I have been doing a lot of volunteer work with an international organization that helps and gives hope to patients and families impacted by heart disease and congenital heart defects (The Mended Hearts Inc.), which is a demographic I belong too as well! I had open heart surgery when I was 6 months old for Tetralogy of Fallot. I currently run a monthly support group for other young adults with CHD. I have really found my niche in helping families who have been impacted by congenital heart defects, and see many pediatric and adult cardiac patients in my business. My love for the heart community does not stop there! I've recently connected with a Berkshire, MA based summer camp JUST for kids with heart defects.

When I am not working, I enjoy anything and everything creative - writing, painting, photography, calligraphy, dance, music, movies etc. I have danced my entire life everything from ballroom to ballet! I have two cats (Sonny and Mo) and have a deep love for my family. I am a very proud auntie to MANY nieces and nephews, I am obsessed with them. I additionally love my wonderful partner, he is my rock and I know what love really means because of him.

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