Ask Jack: American Dream, Personal E-Mail, and Job of the Week

Parents relaxing with children in living room

AOL Jobs reader Don has a question.

I work at an advertising agency in New York. I was married and have two lovely kids, but quite honestly I wasn't the best husband and things didn't work out. And I can't say that my next marriage went much better. (I perhaps drink a little too much, which may have lead to some of my other "issues.") It was all starting to affect my work and I nearly got fired! Long story short, there was a merger and I'm still here. (Whew!) But I guess my question is, how much longer can I go on?

First of all, Don, thank you for submitting your question via a typewritten letter, what a nice change of pace! Now, it sounds to me like you're yet another victim of the fallacy of the American Dream. Frankly, I have to blame your very own world of advertising for misleading so many of us. On the screen or on the page, we see that perfect person with the perfect job and perfect family -- no wonder our own experiences can't possibly measure up! And sure, that disconnect can lead to depression, "self-medication," hurting those around you, and self-sabotage.

All I can suggest is, hang in there, friend. Realize that we've all got troubles to deal with -- you are definitely not alone -- and give yourself some credit for being a survivor. You must be pretty good at what you do, or they wouldn't keep you around. If you need to take some time away from the office to get personal matters in order, the bosses might be very understanding. Deal with one thing at a time; you're not a superhero. Try to make peace with those you've wronged. You've admitted you have problems and that's an important first step. And hey, be thankful you still have a job, not everybody can say that!

Meanwhile, "HRC" wants a new title.

So I'm thinking really seriously about "throwing my hat in the ring" for a big promotion, for what would be a really important position. I can totally do the job, and have all the requisite experience. Except here's the problem: They are asking to see ALL my e-mails from a job I used to do here. That's totally unreasonable, right? Half of them are from my personal Yahoo account (sorry AOL) and I deleted them, sorry! Sometimes I think I get an extra hard time because I'm a woman in a field still dominated by the "old boy network," and also because my husband used to work here. What can I do?

Just the facts, ma'am: That's all that should matter when it comes to whether or not you'll get a promotion. I.E., have you displayed that you are capable of doing the necessary work? (It sounds to me like you are.) And yet, all too often, irrelevant factors come into play, due to sexism, ageism, personality, superficial matters, guilt by association, and a hundred other ridiculous reasons. Now, with this e-mail situation, I'd be as honest as possible, and provide anything you have that's related to the job. Remember what I've said before: The company owns the work e-mail, not you. For the ones you deleted, maybe recipients still have a copy they can forward to you? (Or the NSA?) Anyway, it seems like a fairly minor point (you weren't sharing corporate secrets or anything, right?), so don't let it get in the way of your bigger goals. Good luck!

Last week's Ask Jack questions

Do you have a work-related question for Jack? Write it in the comments below (better answers to this week's questions are also welcome!) or tweet it @AOLJobs with the hashtag #AskJack.

Jack's Job of the Week

I decided to highlight two job openings this week: One in advertising (write that compelling copy, just like they did in the old days!) and one in e-mail server administration (protect those backups and protect people's careers!). But regardless of your field of interest, stop fooling around and do a search on AOL Jobs right now. Spring into a new you!

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