I burnt myself out during my winter of sacrifice. Yet a good thing came at the same time: my relationship with my dear lady.
The new relationship energy jolted my brain into recovery from my season of sacrifice. Life was good again, and I could enjoy the little details. The fog in the cool night air, the Californian winter blossoms on my daily walks, and so on.
I felt alive again, no longer a shambling husk hellbent on completing an ever-growing list of responsibilities and homework.
Then things worsened at work: two seniors resigned back-to-back. All the optimism I had at the end of my last journal entry has proven to be misplaced.
I had thought that the springtime lightening might bring with it a brightness to my daily life too. Let's look at how that's turned out instead.
Overworked in the Tech Industry
One thing I cherish about being a junior at work is the life balance. I don't get pager calls in the middle of the night. My day ends when I want it to, and I can flex my schedule to suit my routine and needs.
Yet I was recently promoted, and alongside that news is the concerning resignations of two seniors on my team. I inherited even more responsibilities.
Furthermore, one of my larger projects dragged along for too long.
How much I work every day doesn't matter as much as how many things I get accomplished. Which means I work less when things are getting churned out quickly, and work more when things are slowed to a crawl.
I worked the past three weekends in a row, for instance.
It's a different world than what my dearheart is used to – he is used to working set hours, and having responsibility end once he punches out for the day.
Yet I think the flexibility is more true to the reality of what I do; some activities are more important than others at my work. As long as you hit your milestones in a timely manner, it doesn't matter how much time you spend working. As long as you're capable of managing yourself, you can keep to a sustainable pace.
This current period is a crunch time, where sustainability has gone out the window.
I worry, because this is how it starts: in the tech industry, it can quickly grow to always be a crunch period. Arbitrary deadlines tangle and grow to take over your daily allotment of time.
It's hard to say "No" to work demands, at least when I'm still in my accumulation phase of financial independence:
The above is my first post on this blog, and is a wonderful reminder of my boundaries with work.
I continually struggle with burnout and depressed moods. The best cure I've found thus far? Knocking out accomplishments, and finishing stressful tasks.
That's why I'm leaning into the stressors now, and spending my weekends with my head down in problems.
What suffers most during these crunch periods is my writing. Writing is one of my stress-reliefs, but I've taken a break and put several of my projects on hold. Thankfully, I'm coming out of the woodwork again.
As well you may notice, given how much more I'm writing for this blog.
Being an Underpaid Woman in the Tech Industry
Besides being overworked, I know that I am underpaid.
How do I know? It's not just that I'm a queer woman, or my background, or my junior status. Though those all are no doubt contributing factors.
One of my managers gave me a compensation overview for different titles, levels, and regions within my company. I clocked in below the median pay for my region and situation. Since then, despite a promotion and raises, I've not grown nearly as much as expected from the salary chart.
The latest confirmation about my status as underpaid was my participation in a hiring panel for candidates at the same level as myself. Nobody even blinked at the salary requirements of the candidates, despite being $30k - $40k more than I currently make.
Tangentially, if you'd like to read more about my experience hiring people, I wrote about that here:
Why am I underpaid though?
It's because I started low, and have stayed loyal to the same company the whole time. It's the anchoring effect.
The last time I was paid fairly was when I started as an hourly employee with no proven track record to trust in.
Since then, I've received far too few raises, and always they give just as much as they think they can get away with. It's the typical capitalistic calculation: "how little can we give, that she will still accept and not raise a fuss about?"
Despite being underpaid, I'm sticking around for the time being. I hate the game, and I need to remind myself why I'm trying to claw my way up still:
- I'm paid well for my age, and it's enough to meet my FI goals in a timely manner
- My employer actually produces value for the betterment of the world, and is not just a hype-train tech bubble waiting to burst
- I enjoy my team and current manager
- I enjoy the work, just not the (relatively few) meetings
- I can still learn, grow, and be promoted
- I currently enjoy being a junior and keeping a generous life balance with minimal responsibilities – though this may change
- I have personal connections related to my workplace that I'd like to keep open
- Changing workplaces entails a significant amount of life stress that I'm not interested in adding atop my other life stressors
Most of all, I'm afraid of asking my manager for better compensation because women are often punished for displaying their ambitions. My manager in particular is an unknown because he's never managed a woman before, so I can't get from someone else the foreknowledge of how he'd react.
Managing to Love Partners Amid Crises
At the very least, being madly in love offers a brief reprieve from the chaos and stress of work.
I wrote about my dear lady here, in a post which I shall call to your attention:
My dear lady delights me daily, with laughter and love in abundance.
However, loving another person is not smooth sailing. People always come with messy lives. In my dear lady's case, she was going through a holiday crisis that stressed us both and needed much of what I could give with my long-distance support.
At the same time, I've been caring for my dearheart husband. He comes with his own crises, large and small.
It's no wonder why I want stability in my working life – because there's stress enough in my personal relationships to go around.
Yet we work through the problems, because there are always setbacks and issues and complications. Nobody is perfect, not even yours truly.
Though I like to think that I can come close to perfection, at times! 😉
The Last Thing I Want to do is Go Slow
Long-distance relationships are a troublesome thing. They enforce a slowness to relationship growth, especially in these opening months when I want to move fast.
I like to front-load relationships, and quickly establish each of our characters. By that I mean that I prefer to lead with intensity so that I can both get a true sense of a partner. I also like to have lots of memories to reminisce about, once things slow down again.
In a previous post, I wrote about this feeling:
If one thing is clear, it's that I'm not a casual person. I love being entangled with my dearheart, and I want to wrap myself up in yet another person. Not gently or smoothly, but with a plummet that leaves us frightened and exhilarated.
I love a healthy dose of fear injected into my relationships. Fear makes for an interesting motivator, and it certainly enlivens my life.
– Entwined in my Gentle Femdom Relationship
At the start of our romantic relationship, I was indeed lively with fear. Dozens of questions swirled through my head, many of which escaped into careful probes. Those probes boiled down to variations of the question "Will you be good for me?" and "Will I be good for you?"
Thankfully new relationship energy fades, and I can get back to my preferred way of life: a routine filled with comfortable old relationship energy.
Right now the refrain between us is composed of "eventually" and "soon." We'll see each other soon enough, and will have each other eventually.
The interminable wait is a drag though.
The last thing I want to do is go slow. I want to give my dear lady all the affection she deserves – in a way she prefers. I want to entwine our lives to the point that our routines are as close as living in each other's skin.
I want her to belong completely to me, and I adore the way she longs to give herself unto my influence.
Time is on my side. I will have my dear lady, regardless of the delays and logistical problems.
I worry about the minutiae. It's been years since I've flown anywhere, and the pandemic has not improved the situation. It's too far to drive with my old car, and the passenger train system in the US is a miserably under-developed affair.
Still, I will always do what needs to be done. I'm ruthless like that.