Dear Oracle, I’ve always had an issue with professional jealousy. On the outside, I try my best to be supportive of others, especially women in my field, and try to give off a “there’s room for everyone at the top” kind of attitude, but it’s getting harder and harder. I watch people I graduate by rising through the ranks through nepotism and right-place-right-time opportunities, and I resent them for it.
I know I work hard, and I’m skilled at my profession, but I’m stuck at the beginning stages. The pandemic made things even more challenging, and I feel like I’m doing everything I can to stay professionally afloat while others seem to be thriving.
I do feel like I’ve been passed over opportunities due to my gender, and my lack of connections when I started certainly didn’t help. But I have to believe that hard work and talent will pay off or else, what’s the point? Until then, do the cards have any advice on how to deal with this green-eyed monster?—Jealous in the Heights
Cards: Five of Swords reversed, Queen of Cups, Six of Cups reversed
First, I’m so sorry. It’s disappointing to realize that hard work and talent aren’t enough to achieve your dreams. They should be. Meritocracy is the lynchpin of the American dream, part of our go-getter charm that delights and confounds many other citizens of the world.
But every profession, be it in STEM or the arts or the medical field, has its gatekeepers, and racism, sexism, and nepotism can absolutely keep qualified candidates from advancing as quickly in their careers. Which, for the record, is utter bullshit. It should be about talent and hard work. But that’s how capitalist cookie crumbles. I know you know this. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded, mainly because your ego is wounded and that shit is infected.
We have the Five of Swords reversed, which is the ego by its lonesome. It’s resenting people not because they’re getting promoted but because you’re better than them, and they’re still getting ahead.
It’s OK to believe that you’re better than people at your job—an honest assessment of your work is a great thing to have—but it’s not helpful to believe that the universe will course-correct based on this. Because it might not. Undeserving, incompetent assholes have been getting jobs since antiquity, though, as a general rule, we’ve stopped stabbing them.
We have the Queen of Cups, a master of relationships, diplomacy, and love. This is someone who has connections in your field, a big who in “who-you-know.” If this is a person you know, reach out to them. If you can’t think of anyone, then you might need to be that person. “Networking” sounds like a lame yuppie term, but it is important. See about joining professional organizations around town and when the pandemic subsides, see about informal meet-ups. If schmoozing seems a nightmare, look into conferences or writing op-eds for journals in your profession.
But it’s essential to look back and remember why you chose this profession in the first place. The last card is the Six of Cups reversed, which is a child-like sense of love. Whatever your profession is, you need to remember that love that drove you to it. That love is going to carry you on through these trying few years. Chin up and fuck ‘em all. You got this!
Dear Oracle, I run a small business, and I seem to have successfully navigated the pandemic (yay!) I have an opportunity to finally take some time off, but the idea of leaving, even for just a few days, fills me with anxiety and nagging thoughts of all the horrible things that could happen. Even though I have a great team that I completely trust, I cringe at the thought of not being available if something terrible were to happen. O Wise Oracle, how can I stop worrying and actually enjoy some time away from work?—2 Stressed 2 Rest
Cards: Eight of Cups reversed, Two of Swords, Wheel of Fortune reversed
The Two of Swords in my deck shows a two-headed, two torso’d dude who has a sword to the other head’s throat. It’s a balancing act, and it’s fitting for it to appear in the middle after the Eight of Cups (walking away) and the Wheel of Fortune (fortune) because it very much sums up your anxiety. You think that if you step away, through a twist of Fate, you’ll get your head cut off.
I know you say you trust your staff, but it doesn’t need to be their fault for something to go wrong. Break-ins, fires, acts of a wrathful God—all of these things could happen when you’re away. But those things could happen when you’re there, too. (I know that doesn’t quell the anxiety, but it’s worth pointing out.)
The fear that if you step away, then Fortuna’s going to spin her wheel to your demise has been with you for a minute; unfortunately, the poison is also the cure. You have to step away; you have to trust in faith. Otherwise, the other sword will fall.
The pandemic has been an unprecedented event—a distilled war that has permeated every part of our lives, including our psyches. I can only imagine how stressful it is to operate a small business during these times. You must be able to reset your brain, even if it’s just for a few days, to go back into the muck, knowing that fate will do what fate does.
For practical advice, I suggest going somewhere off-grid, up a mountain or in a forest, anywhere with lots of nature, few people (social distance!) and spotty cell phone reception at best. Bring a 24-pack of beer, a thick book, and ingredients to make a stew. Sleep, read, nature-walk, eat, drink, repeat. It won’t cure everything, but it’ll certainly help you start to relax.
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