My name is Michelle, and I’m a recovering Digital Project Manager.
You see, I was a digital PM for awhile, back in the heady days of 2015, a distant blur now. And then I became a digital strategist. “Cool,” I thought. “A totally different job, how exciting!” And then weeks and months went on and I found myself thinking, “Hmm. This seems an awful lot like what I was doing before. What gives?”
Months turned into almost a year and I became more disillusioned and confused than ever.
So what is the actual difference between a digital PM and a digital strategist? It’s taken me awhile to learn.
It’s difficult to accept failure. I think that’s part of human nature — to be proud, defend ourselves, survive, and dislike failing. But sometimes we fail as human beings, and as project managers. And sometimes, spectacularly, we fail at those two things at the same time.
I’ve been a total failure over the past few months.
I started this blog, intending to keep it going with new content twice a week. Fail.
I transitioned out of project management recently, but didn’t actually transition out of it because I’m a total control freak. Fail.
Even though I didn’t transition out of it, I still failed at doing a bunch of PM stuff properly. Fail.
I couldn’t think of new content ideas to save my life. Fail.
I lost my focus, my energy, my drive, and my love of what I do (temporarily). Fail.
I ate an entire tray of four cinnamon buns and washed them down with an entire bottle of wine. Fail (or… win?).
I think the important thing to remember here is that cinnamon buns fix all failures until you step on the scale and feel like a failure in an entirely new way. Not as a project manager or a human being, but even worse, a failure of a woman for not fitting into your pants anymore.
Whatever your hustle may be — design, coding, strategy, project management, writing, something unmarketing related — you started doing it because you loved it. You continued because you loved it. You can’t imagine yourself doing anything else with your life, but yet, you hit a point where you just want to quit. What’s going on?
It’s not a lack of passion for your work. It’s not because of boredom. It’s not because you want to do something else.
When you feel that feeling of loving what you do and being convinced that you’ve never been more connected to and passionate about your work, coupled with a feeling of absolute dread about going in the next day or doing any of the tasks on your list, congrats — you’re in creative burnout.
I think the hardest thing about working in an industry you’re really passionate about is the eventual feeling of “Is this worth it?” that creeps into your mind. If you’re like me, you’re a 110% kind of person. All in or all out, there is no in between.
I’m happy and proud to be doing something I love for a living. I love the sense of accomplishment my work provides, and being surrounded by so many talented people with big ideas. It’s fantastic and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But sometimes, it still gets tough like anything else.
I guess some people call that burnout, but that’s not really what it is. To me, true burnout is when you are literally so done that you cannot be any more done. You know it’s time to walk away, find a new path, burn bridges to the ground, whatever. You want out of where you are.
But that’s not what I feel sometimes at all. Like I said, I wouldn’t change a thing. So it’s not burnout, it’s just a temporary case of a lack of fucks to give.
Once your supply of fucks to give is restored, all is well.
The story of Nerdy Organized — how it came to be, what it means, and how it came to be the way I describe myself.
Grab some wine for this one! ????
Let’s begin at the worst place to start: the beginning. The term “nerdy organized” was a phrase I made up to describe myself in my epic failure of an interview for the agency I work at now. Well, I guess it wasn’t an epic failure because I did get the job (and am still there now), but it was one of the worst interview performances of my life. Anyway.
I was being grilled about my digital marketing chops and oh yes, I felt the heat from the flames of that grillage. It was pretty intense. I blurted out that I had attention to detail, knowledge of the industry and terms, blah blah blah, all that stupid crap everyone says about themselves. Then I said I was organized too. I was met with neutral expressions. “Like… really… nerdy organized,” I word barfed next. I meant that I was good at getting shit done. There was light laughter. I managed to breathe for a second.
The term kind of stuck, and I ended up changing my Twitter username to it as a joke. But here I am like two years later, still with it. I even named this weird blog thing after it (only because I have a dumb common name so the only name-based domain left would be MichelleMartin.isplutostillaplanet).
I accepted being “nerdy organized” as part of my identity, my ethos. I clung to this term and made it fit my personality to a T. To me, it means being thorough, industrious, knowledgeable, and above all… super fuckin’ nerdy.
I feel ranty this week. Maybe I’m just tired, or didn’t drink enough coffee, or am actually just a total cranky old bitch. But in any case, my ranty-ness is expanding into most aspects of my life. Today I’m ranting about something that happened about 6 months ago, which quite frankly I think we can all agree is clearly the sign of a totally normal, mentally stable individual.
Regardless, I still believe in my rant today, so here goes.
Months ago, I was at a Meetup event downtown. It was about content strategy, and it was a great event. The speaker was engaging and knowledgable and made a ton of excellent points I still remember to this day. The thing that annoyed me came after the actual event, when the talking to other humans part kicked in. For a cranky ass introvert like myself, talking to other humans can sometimes be a challenge.
Not because I don’t like people, but just because I often don’t know what to say. I hate small talk and fake interest in things. Let’s either talk about something mutually interesting or why bother, is how I view networking type events. But it’s also no fun to be sitting around by yourself in a room full of people, so, I make attempts at human connection.