The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen is a typical sunbed-full-of-cliches-happy-ending-chicklit novel with a nice twist, a story about twin sisters, one is smart – an advertising executive and another one is a model (I warned you about cliches :-)). Both of them are somehow defining their identities as “opposite of my sister”. Just because this is what they were led to believe from early childhood.
The twist I liked happens when the smart sister is passed for promotion and fired. Corporate career is the one thing she knows so far, the only path she is familiar with. Obviously, she is initially planning to find another job in another firm, start over and win what she lost. This is the most logical and the most rational choice. Then she starts doubting, because she realizes that actually she may have other choices. When we are doing what we are doing, we are usually focused on the next promotion, next project, next client, and we forget to think why is that that we are here to start with. We may not always like 100% of what we do, but looking around and second-guessing would be almost as bad as downshifting, it may slow us down, we may loose our focus, we may drop the ball.
One of the colleagues whom I really liked recently left and decided to stop working. He wants to start something completely new outside of the corporate world. He was a good professional, successful, well respected and really liked, kind and funny. Not some burned out, stressed, unhappy average looser (those types are usually becoming down-shifters, right?)
I am considering two potential lateral moves, same company, same level, probably same money: one is rational, more traditional and mainstream, but more formal, technically focused and less exciting; another one is project-based, niche, but visible and versatile. The rational one would look better on the resume and has a more predictable career trajectory, the visible one would make me happy, because I know I would be a star there and it would play to my strengths, but I have no clue what would I do next, after it’s done. We all have been told to think long-term and defer gratification, haven’t we? That’s why the book resonated well with me.
It’s not smart-smart, but it’s believable, it takes you along. I liked it.