I'm wondering if I should quit my job. I’m a 27-year-old woman who works as a program manager at a nonprofit that promotes access to healthy food. When I was hired at the beginning of the year, it was as an assistant manager, and I was thrilled. This was my first full time job after years of juggling two to three part-time jobs, and I looked forward to gaining experience and new skills. A few months later the program manager was let go and I was asked to take over. I expressed trepidation, but was assured by my supervisors that they had confidence in me. I constantly feel like I'm failing, that I’m missing things and making mistakes and just muddling through. It kills me to think that my incompetence could be hindering our fantastic mission. In addition, the stress is really getting to me. My supervisor seems be to be satisfied with my performance, but I want to go back to being an assistant. Am I crazy to ask for a demotion? Should I just try to keep it together and hope no one notices that I'm panicking?
—Over My Head
As scary and vertiginous as this is, you should continue to step up and lean in (which I admit sounds like dizzying advice). It doesn’t appear that you were just a warm body making a lower salary that prompted management to tap you for this job. Your bosses saw something in your work they liked and you apparently continue to satisfy them, even if not yourself. Like many millennials, you have had a hard time getting a toehold in a career. So you should think long and hard before trying to step down a rung. It’s understandable you feel overwhelmed and not ready for the job. But you have it, so take action to make yourself more competent. Find out if there are evening classes in nonprofit management at nearby colleges. If not, search out reputable online programs. Get helpful bedtime reading. Here are a couple of books you can start with: Managing the Nonprofit Organization and The Charismatic Organization. Ask your supervisor to have a weekly meeting in which you discuss goals and how to implement them. Also make sure you’re eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Stress multiplies when you’re physically run down. Recognize that what you are feeling is not uncommon. If everyone who worried they weren’t up to the task left their job, the unemployment rate would be astronomical.
My son recently divorced a woman he had been briefly married to, who has returned home to the European country where he met her. She couldn’t find a job in the States and came to loathe all things American, including my son. She sent me an email full of criticisms of him and all the “bad things” he had done while they were married. I figured this was just an example of her character, but one thing has stayed with me. She said that my son fathered a child by his previous fiancée. My son had told me previously that this woman had had a child and I asked him directly if he was the father. He said he wasn’t. The divorce has been very hard on my son, and I haven’t mentioned the ex’s email, but I keep wondering if I have a grandchild. Both my children are in their 30s and I don’t see any other grandchildren in the foreseeable future. It would break my heart if I have a grandchild I will never meet. Do I have a right to know? And how should I approach this with my son?
—Want to Be a Grandma
This real but also figmentary child is not going to fulfill your understandable wishes to be a grandmother. You asked your son point blank if this child was his, and he denied paternity. But let’s say he does assume or know that he is the father of his ex-fiancée’s child. Then it’s most odd that this would be a secret, that he wouldn’t be supporting this child, and that the baby would have no place in his life. If that’s the case, the two adults involved have likely decided on this course of action, and your aching heart is not going to change that. However, it’s fair enough, since you’ve already talked about this issue with your son, to say that you got a nasty email from his ex making this assertion. Explain you dismissed most of what she wrote, but that you’re troubled thinking there is a child of his out there that none of you knows. If he shrugs it off, accept that it’s far from too late for your children to eventually produce another generation.
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