Lonely at the top

A friend who took on a regional position was sharing to us, girlfriends, how she adjusted to her new role in a multinational firm. It’s lonely at the top, she said.

Another replied, “Now you know how I feel.” She’s the CFO of a global insurance firm.

There were hearty laughs. It was Saturday late afternoon, August 31, 2013, and we were still at my Fort unit hours after our get-together-before-Lala-goes-back-to-work-and-snubs-us-again started at lunch.

The married ones have promptly made a beeline to the door at 3:30pm sharp. They have kids and husbands and houses to take care of. By then, we have remembered and figured out who married first or last, what gowns we wore in their weddings, who got pregnant first and last, the names of their bundles of joy, among others.

We, the singles, stayed on, chatting about anything and everything under the sun until dinner and tea. It has been ages since we saw each other last. I missed some of their get-togethers in February and March 2013. I was busy at work.

We looked at several Throwback pictures on Facebook, reminisced about the previous trips we’ve made, and looked back at the time when we were thinner, leaner, younger. Now we’re exchanging tips about hair colors, gynecologists to go to, operations that we or our parents went through, real estate units to invest in, prioritizing our parents, and career choices.

We discussed about work issues and dealing with subs and sups. Some work to live. My and the CFO’s life is our work.

The one who was recently promoted shared that one aspect she had to adjust to was eating lunch alone. It may seem trivial but if having friends at work to chat with during lunch has been the norm in the past 17 years in her previous company, staring at her office wall or finding a restaurant alone in Greenbelt was initially daunting, she said.

She’s in the executive floor of her office, and her peers are mostly traveling. The silence was deafening, she said. She has adjusted now and learned to enjoy being alone with her thoughts.

It’s the same sentiment another friend who came back to Manila after years of working abroad shared. She, too, adjusted after the initial shock. She has identified a handful she can have lunch with. She takes visiting executives out if she’s free at noon. She now enjoys some alone time, too, not thinking of power issues that may accidentally slip in between soups.

Having lunch buddies is not a deal breaker, but it does help to have not just a warm body but also a friend at the top.

They have people at home who are invaluable emotional support, but they need another confidant who truly understands the pressure they face on a daily basis and the cold decisions they need to make. They can do the job, but they just need a sounding board. Trustworthiness and intelligence are key.

One response to “Lonely at the top”

  1. And you? How do you feel Lala? =)


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