There's More to Life Than Knitting!

Join Suna as she stops knitting long enough to ponder her life, share her joys and concerns, and comment on the goings on in the world.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why I Haven't Been Posting

(sorry about the fonts in this--I pasted from a new piece of software and it made a mess.)

I have been hesitating to write about what is going on with the "new job" and that has meant I haven't posted anything at all. That really isn't fair, since some nice stuff has happened in my life as well as the icky. For example, here's a nice picture or two from our visit to the Wildflower Center. Beccano is also enjoying his guitar lessons. Lee is building another lovely flower bed. Tuba Boy still seems to have a girlfriend and is quite happy, though scheduled to travel during this year's final SAT opportunity. I got the kids new shoes, and me some, too. I do still apparently have some friends, and they have really been lifesavers for me!

But, last week all my work fears came to a head, and all my paranoid worries came to fruition. It turns out they really didn't like me, they really didn't think I was doing a good job, and they really wanted me out of there. I wasn't just making it up based on previous stuff from the job at the dysfunctional organization. This made me, a person with, shall we say, "delicate" self esteem in the best of times, feel like all the bad stuff I thought about myself really was true. I had confirmation at last that I pretty much suck. I started to shake and couldn't stop.

How did I find this out? I went to a 30-day review with the boss, and she just handed me a piece of paper listing every mistake I had made since I started, saying I was negative all the time, and positing that I was fitting in so poorly that I might not get to stay. To be honest with you, it really felt like I was living a nightmare. There was no way I was going to point out that I might not be all perky due to people attacking me verbally or not speaking to me unless they absolutely had to. What good would that do other than make me appear defensive? I did mention that no one was speaking to me, which made me hesitate to ask questions.

I did figure out that some things I had said in a joking manner were not taken that way, and it's easy enough to not make light of freeware tools or act like I am not fond of mainframe software. I have noticed there is a distinct lack of humor in this office, so I've deleted that from my repertoire. I also figured out that my initial confusion during the first few weeks (cause: what they said I'd be doing in the interview turns out to be what I am NOT allowed to do, and what I said was my least good skill was ALL I did) made me appear negative. So, please note that I am not one of those people who blames others for everything that goes wrong. I know I had a part.

But, I was not all of it, or even most of it. Some of the stuff was really unfair, and it hurt a lot. And it upped my anxiety symptoms big time. Still, I need the income and benefits. So, I have been on a campaign to act positive, cheerful and helpful at all times. Not a negative word has escaped my mouth in over a week. I am viewing everyone as real nice folks I love to work with (btw, some of them are perfectly nice, others might not be people I'd choose as friends, but could be fine co-workers minus their grudges). I am guessing the boss may have spoken to them, as well. They are acting nicer. It does help when it goes both ways. I am not acting like an asinine grinning fool, but I am projecting positive rays. I am not expressing any interest in any project I am not directly involved with (another mistake I'd made--thought the whole team was involved in all the projects, so that was another major error on my part). I am not saying a word about any personal thing happening to anyone unless asked, and offering no personal information on my life. Just saying, "Wow, what a cool challenge!" and, "That should be educational!" a lot, about work topics.

I had a second meeting with the boss on Friday, and to her credit, she had come up with some good plans for ways for me to learn more about the parts of the department that mystify me, and figured out some new duties I can slowly start to take on that will also be educational. I told her I was really grateful and appreciated her effort.

What has also helped was that I taught a class in Microsoft Excel last Thursday, and it went well. My coworker who went to it and helped me set it up sent the boss a nice report on how I'd done. And he has said I am doing fine, and that he appreciates the stuff I am doing. He will even talk to me about non-work topics in off moments. That makes one. A couple of others have at least spoken to me kindly. I don't need to make friends at work like I did in other jobs, but I'd like to not have enemies. It just brings flashbacks to the times in the past few years when people I thought were my friends suddenly weren't. It really, really makes me wonder if the problem is ME. As I used to repeat to someone close to me, if the same thing happens again and again, you might want to think about your role in these repeated issues. So, don't think I am not aware that I am "crusty" and "sensitive" and "defensive" and act grumpy when I am facing a hard challenge until I get it figured out. I know. It's why I wish I could just go crawl in a hole, or live in the country tending my chickens and donkey with my man who loves me the way I am. But, we have to feed ourselves, feed the kids, and pay the bills. Nowhere to hide.

So, I have done my best to improve the situation and make the best of it. I have turned my internal attitude around and am, I hope, not appearing as down. I hope it will all smooth over. It has been quite a blow to think of myself as the bad seed at the office, the poor worker, etc. All those years of praise for my initiative, ability to work with difficult people, and quick learning skills fooled me into thinking I could handle the "real world." Really, I think I just misunderstood what I was supposed to be doing, and got frustrated, which I did not hide well enough. Any frustration in the future will be thoroughly hidden, at least until such a time that I have built up a bank of positivity. An occasional voiced frustration comes out of everyone (and I hear plenty in the office--but they are allowed, I guess). And I will keep taking my medicines. They help.

I do wish I could work doing nice things for nice people who respect and admire me, and that the feeling could be mutual. I guess that is asking for a lot: no workplace is perfect nor is any job. I know that. I just had not expected this one to fall apart so quickly and completely. I felt like I'd been run over by a train, and can only now start to talk about it a little.

This rambled a lot. Sorry. I will try to write some less intense things next time. I hope you can understand that being on guard against any negativity, hyper-vigilant against making any errors in what I am doing, and maintaining the constant cheer takes a lot out of me. I worry that being neutral won't be enough (that would be less taxing). It's like being in a play 9 hours a day. Even great actors would tire of that.


nyjlm said...

this breaks my heart. I'm so sorry :( I can relate to the awful feeling of wondering if it is you, and how those thoughts combined with our anxious temperament gets us going in circles in a really awful way.

Sending you light and love.

Sam said...

I have often felt the "is it just me" worry. I suspect it goes both ways. I know that I am hard for new co-workers to get to know because my guard is so far up that I must appear rude and/or stand-off-ish. I have been taken to task for this rude behaviour before and it hurts when people tell you negative things about yourself, real or imagined.
I LOVE you and I know in time people who get to work with you will love you too.

Stephanie said...

Oh pumpkin! As a friend and former co-worker who walked through the fire with you and is glad we are both out of it, I hope you find your way through this torrent of feelings soon. If you want to stay at this job, it sounds like you have figured out how to make it work and you'll be able to move beyond the bizarre first month. I'm sad that it isn't turning out to be what you (and I) had hoped but I do suspect it could get better. Of course, I wish you had a better, warmer, gentler alternative waiting in the wings.

This really stinks, babe, and I want you to know that this is NOT all you because stuff like this is never all about one person. Knowing and loving you like I do, I suspect that you were more intense than anyone they'd hired in a while and they all got together and wondered what the heck was with the new gal. As they get to know you, they cannot help but see you are intelligent, hard-working, fun, generous, patient, and all that good stuff. I don't know why everyone can't figure that out as quickly as I did, but then, they can't all be as bright as your friends. Right?


sandy said...

What a bummer, I can certainly see how this would bring you down. I hope this was mostly about people not know how and where you fit and that things settle and your co-workers see where you shine, not how to bring you down.

Cheri said...

Now I understand the dog walking comment. I am sorry things aren't going well at your new job. You were so excited about it - I am bummed it is turing out to be so ugly there. Know that I am thinking of you. Sending you LOTS OF HUGS!

Shannon said...

I can really relate. I am a complete basket case whenever I'm working outside the home. (I say that as if I'm not a basket case otherwise.) You always strike me as so competent, intelligent, and wise that I forget that we both continually battle low self-esteem. In you, it motivates perfectionism and manifests as anxiety. In me, it is under-achievement and depression, but it sucks either way.

I imagine some of this feeling like you have somehow been exposed as an awful person and believing it, is pretty classic INFP stuff. We blame ourselves. We turn all of the negative crap inward. Perhaps you somehow believe that these dolts at work have discovered some capital T truth about you, have peeled back the veneer and discovered the real you. That's purely your imagination. They don't know you. They have no idea how wonderful you are---either because they haven't bothered to know you, or because they feel threatened by you, or perhaps it is simply that they are drooling, skipping morons and should probably be outfitted with special mouthpieces so that they do not swallow their own tongues. I can't say. In any event, although I agree with the advice you once gave someone else, that isn't always the case. For instance, someone once told me that if you keep adding water to various alcoholic beverages, you cannot then assume that the water is intoxicating simply because it is the one thing that seems to be constant. (That someone was L, after I had explained to him that I had bungled all of my previous relationships and had concluded that I was a complete f*** up and unworthy of love.) In short, they suck; you don't, and that's my two cents on the matter.

(I hope that veneer comment doesn't offend you. You always seem very authentic to me--charmingly so, in fact. That's just how I feel, and a few of the things you said led me to believe that you must suffer from those feelings sometimes, too. I always feel like I'm tap dancing, trying to be what other people want /expect me to be. Even when I'm just being myself, I feel as if I'm hiding something, worried that at any moment someone will point and scream and the villagers will come with torches and pitchforks, and I will sigh and lower the drawbridge for them because their horror simply confirms what I have suspected all along---that I am a monster and their contempt is justified.)

Were you serious about the chickens and donkey? If you had thrown in a few goats, that's mine and L's escapist fantasy, too. How bizarre! I'm sorry, but that part just made me grin all over. I love you, Suna, and hope things continue to get better. I know it's cliche, but hang in there.

Lee said...

Definitely goats!