I’ll admit, the experience of getting lectured by my boss yesterday left me pretty shaken. Getting called on the carpet by someone who is 13 years my junior and who has a fraction of the life experience that I have — was more a blow to my pride, than anything else. I just got caught out. By someone who I shouldn’t get caught out by. I hate when that happens.
I woke up early, full of rationalizations and excuses and counter-attacks, writing notes by the side of my bed that I fully intended to put in an email or type up in an outline I can walk though, point by point, with this boss of mine.
But the bottom line is, I took my eye off the ball, and I got called on it.
It’s more embarrassing than anything else, and that smarts.
I guess the thing that makes it more difficult is that everything gets blown out of proportion with me, sometimes. Especially if I’m tired – which I have been. I also got taken by surprise, by the gravity they gave to the situation. Like these were very serious issues that I needed to address immediately… or else. Please. I’ve gone through worse.
I guess I just don’t understand what the big deal is. It seemed like such a monumental thing. And rather than doing a check and say, “You know what, I’m not happy with how things have been going, either. What can we do about it?” I got caught up in my foolish pride, and that did a number on me.
I’m way too easily thrown by things like this. A lifetime of experiences like this embarrassment all come up for me, and I can’t help but replay each and every one of them. No matter what I do, all the old times come back and bite me in the ass. And it’s much worse inside my head, than in real life. Way.
I think the main problem is, I haven’t been strategic enough in my work and how I prioritize things. Here, I’m going along, thinking that I want to spend my days really involved in my work, experiencing it, getting a lot of meaning out of it, and really connecting with it… thinking that it’s enough. But it’s not enough. I need to feed the demons at the door, to keep them at bay — satisfy the basest of requirements, so that I can get on with my life and develop my own connection with my work and my life.
I work with people who think that putting in 8 hours a day and satisfying all the requirements is enough. Maybe it is for them, but for me — not so much. And there’s that fundamental relationship I have with my work that sets me apart from the rest of the crowd, which so often sets me at odds with the rest of the world. This is nothing new. It’s just the first time I’m encountering it with these people, and it threw me for a loop.
I guess I need to adjust how I work with people. I hate the posturing and self-importance, but that seems to be what works best in that work environment. It’s tiresome. I’ve wanted to be real and down-to-earth, but that’s just working against me in that environment. People don’t respond well to real and down-to-earth in my home office. They respond to posing and self-importance and bravado. Getting real makes them nervous, for some reason. Like they’re going to get called out, or caught, or something. I guess I need to let go of that hope of just being real, and get down to doing the work I’m expected to do the way it’s expected of me. There will be time to be real elsewhere.
I really need to work on two levels — one on the surface, doing the stupid-ass drudge work, meeting the requirements others have, feeding the beasts that drive this whole scene, paying my bills and appeasing the gods. That leaves the deeper level available for me, where I can pursue the things that really bring me life. I’ve got a lot of ideas about how to really transform and evolve the position I’m in and the work I do. I can totally do that. But I have to make sure the pillow is stuffed full of fluff, so the people at the top can rest their heads on it.
I also need to keep true to my own gut instincts. Part of the reason I got sidetracked, was that I followed the lead of my boss, who is really quite inexperienced in many work things. They’ve only ever had one real job, since they got out of college — at this small company, in the same state where they grew up. They’ve spent 1/3 of their life there, and it’s all they know. So, of course they’re going to be a little challenged, dealing with someone like me, who hasn’t just visited different places, but has actually lived and worked throughout the US and in Europe for a while, and has worked their way up from being severely down and out and homeless, 21 years ago… to actually having a life that is all but indistinguishable from the privileged insiders of the ruling upper-middle class.
Nobody would guess from looking at me, that I’ve had to work my way back from such adversity. And that’s fine. I don’t need to pull it out and parade it around. I just need to remember who I am and where I come from, and give myself some serious credit.
I woke up this morning, determined to set the record straight with my boss and defend my honor. Now, I realize that’s a stupid idea, and my best bet is to just let the dust settle, buckle down and focus on satisfying requirements, and not lose sight of the main goals I am being assessed by. Of course I’m going to get off track, now and then. The worst thing I can do, is make a federal case out of it. And there’s really no need to take the lead from someone who has a fraction of the life experience that I do. I’ll take my own lead, thanks.
In times like this, I really need to remind myself — My brain is playing tricks on me again. The only tailspin I’m in, is in my head. So, I just have to pull out, and get on with the business of living my life. Keep cool. Don’t let it rattle me. Just stay focused on what needs to happen, and keep the interactions that have the potential for working against me to a minimum. Life is too precious to get stuck in crap that’s rolling around in the back of my head like so many empty tin cans.
That’s all it amounts to, really. Empty tin cans — the empty casings of past experiences that left me cold and only serve to distract me from my real goal — to just do the best job I can, day in and day out, and live the best life I can, no matter what. Those tin cans make a whole lot of noise. The last thing I need, is to let them distract me from my primary purpose, or let their noise drown out the things I really need to hear.
Life is waiting to be lived. Outside tin can alley.