Validation or Vindication?
I have been feeling particularly lethargic and uninspired at work recently. I celebrated my 21st anniversary with my employer in February. What? Really? Yes. Whenever I hear people say they have been married for 20+ years, I wrinkle my nose as if I just walked into Gold's Gym at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon and smelled the culmination of middle-aged desperation, dreams and sweat.
To be sure my job is the longest relationship I have had, outside of my family of course. I always resist being placed in the category of women who sacrificed their personal lives for their careers. I don't feel like I sacrificed anything, I just made different choices than a lot of women do. I do, however, sometimes ask myself "what do I have to show for it?" Yes, I will have a great pension, my retirement savings in on point and I will be retiring "early" at the age of 54. These were my goals. I have worked hard and achieved exactly what I set out to do.
So, why do I feel defensive sometimes? And why have I been feeling so out of sorts at work? I even used the phrase "wasted" when someone congratulated me on my work anniversary as in " Yeah, can you believe I wasted the last 21 years of my life in this place?"
I know that is foolish talk. I haven't wasted anything. Once quick "google" of my name will produce a resume that is noteworthy in my profession. But sometimes, I still feel as if what I have done with my life has less meaning than what some others have done.
And then it happened. I opened my email and received notification that my company, under my leadership, is being recognized by DiversityINC Top 50 as one of the 25 noteworthy companies of 2015. Wow. That is a designation that 1,500 other companies were hoping to gain and did not. I immediately felf bouyant. I felt validated. My career hasn't been for nothing...I have accomplished something really rare and exeptional. But, am I feeling validated or vindicated?
Does this award signal to the world the legitimacy of the work I have been engaged in? Or, does it prove that my life choices were true and correct? And to whom? For sure, I feel relieved. I am relieved that my legacy will be that of a winner, not as someone who travailed and had nothing but a gold watch to show for it.