This summer I discovered the award-winning series Mad Men that airs on AMC. I’m a student of American history, culture, I’ve always been fascinated with marketing and advertising messages, and I love the post-modern look. It is so well written, designed, and acted and I’m afraid I’m a binge watcher – sometimes for hours at a time. But I have one episode left of the 2010 season. One more! Oh no… The current season (they were on hiatus for 2011) is not yet on Netflix. UGH….what will I do without my nightly fix?
I find myself wanting to find a mid-century fixer upper with large plate-glass windows for walls that I can decorate , get a wet bar, and live in the city with a hectic busy job that keeps me at work until 8 p.m. every night.
I thrive for a certain length of time doing high pressure, big time, meaningful work.
I lived a similar life for almost ten years working for someone who was very important. Maybe that’s why I like the show so much.
Actually two men made up my Donald Draper and I was their Peggy. We had respect for each other as colleagues and they relied on me…a woman…in an industry that was dominated by men. I was the only woman in the board room who was not a secretary. I was pushed again and again until my creative director was satisfied. Working at the drop of a hat, for as long as it took until it was right. I was known for speaking my mind and was careful enough with my words to make that work for me instead of against me.
Personality wise there were the Sterlings who were there because he had an important father but who didn’t contribute much except for making jokes. There were the Coopers who worked old school style and liked to see that part of the fruit of his efforts was a thriving and successful organization. There were the Joans who secretly knew they were in control because they knew more than any of the men. There were the Campbells who thought they were God’s gift and wondered why no one else saw it the same way.
Every time I was asked to take on a new project, I said yes, even if I had no idea how I would accomplish it. I knew I’d figure something out. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. Sometimes I had to fight for things I thought were important and if I made a good enough case they let me run with my idea. But they were hard on me. It had to be good, I had to be on my A game.
Madison Avenue it was not…I worked on a balcony at the back of a church and my office used to be a custodian’s closet that they cleaned out, put in a built-in desk, and cut out a hole for a window in the wall so it wouldn’t feel so small. But every time I heard, “We’re counting on you.” It was like a drug. I got a rush. And it felt like I had the most important job on the planet.
The difference between my life and that show is that the people I worked with were all Christians and cared very much about their character as well. There were no scandals, no sex, no drinking on the job and most of us were paid very little. I was proud to know all of them and call them friends. But I have to admit, I was also very relieved when it ended.
I sat in my bosses office the day I told him I had accepted a job elsewhere and he said, “I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish what I do without you.” It was a nice complement but the world keeps going even when we’re gone.
Everything must come to an end and when it does there is a new beginning.
My favorite history teacher once told me to purposefully stretch myself professionally every 5 years to keep myself from becoming resistant to change, stagnant and useless.
I took that advice to heart. And I’m closing in my fifth year doing the same job…it’s currently too easy, too light, too safe.
It’s been good since 2008 as my personal life has been in chaos. I think God knew what I needed and opened the doors for me to work from home while being a single mom with two teens.
But I’m starting to itch for a change.
I’ve really not been using my potential. I don’t want to go crazy like I had it before, but I could do more. I see Harry everyday pushing himself to the limit and I remember when I was stressed out and sick from it. I worry about him a little. And I hope we can both strike a good balance in the future where neither of us is married to our jobs, but we have time to spend together. And yet I also hope that what we end up doing professionally does good, is purposeful, and is fulfilling.
The episode I’m waiting to watch is the season finale. The ad agency lost their biggest client and other clients are bailing. It looks like doom is ahead. Everything can come crashing down and fast. With Harry’s business, the stakes are high. It’s put up or shut up week for him. If he can succeed, it will build confidence for other clients to say yes to him. So he has to succeed. He knows it, so the pressure is on. And because he’s a one man show, it’s all on him.
So it is easy for me to cheer him on, to stay out of his way as best I can, but when the time is right, go in with the nourishment he needs. I’m his biggest fan. I adore him. And I believe in him.
I don’t see him as a character on Mad Men. He’s too genuine. If anyone it would be Connie Hilton. A self-made all american man.
To me he is simply my Harry. Super hard worker and super great kisser.