Archive | June, 2013

The letter I’ll never send

27 Jun

Dearest loved ones,

Yesterday I took a day off of work to recover from a non-serious malady that certainly didn’t need to keep me from sitting at a desk and typing. It was probably more of a mental health day than an immune system health day, but regardless, instead of being at my desk I found myself at Trader Joe’s looking at the selection of hummus. As I decided on roasted garlic and red pepper and placed it in my cart, a fellow shopper told me to get the edamame ¬†hummus. He stood there waiting for me to add it to my cart until I complied. It was his favorite, you see. So for fear of disappointing this stranger, I bought an extra hummus I didn’t want or need.

Say it with me now! “Nooooo.”

I do this thing to myself where I say “yes” until I can’t anymore and my soul shuts down. Can you stay at work late to make sure this sensitive material gets sent out? I’m really stressed, do you have time to talk? Will you come to X, X, X, and X this weekend? It should be really fun!

This past weekend, the only time I had alone was when I was in the shower. Thanks to work politics I’ve been at the end of my stress rope for a few weeks, but instead of carving out time to myself to get a handle on things, I committed myself to just about everyone in geographical proximity. It’s not that I don’t like people. People are great. Especially the people I love. But people don’t relax me, they exhaust me. Which isn’t to say that on most occasions the exhaustion isn’t worth the effort! But while being “on” and charismatic and cheerful and pleasant isn’t unnatural, it isn’t easy to maintain for that long either. And at 11:00pm on Sunday night, after a weekend filled with pleasing people to whom I felt irrationally obligated, I shut down. I couldn’t keep it up anymore. And I felt certain that if the people breathing the oxygen in my car didn’t &%$#*% stop talking I would have an aneurism.

It isn’t a new pattern. In college I would get so bogged down in jobs, clubs, family drama, that I would have to take a day off of classes just to do my work for those classes. I overextend myself until I need to turn off and restart. I feel so badly telling someone “no” that I can’t manage to have any sort of balance in my life.

Is it “can’t”? No. It’s “won’t”. I won’t have balance in my life. As much as I complain and as much as I know it’s an unhealthy way to live, there is a part of me that worries if I’m not the giving friend who will always answer her phone and always be there when you’re having a tough time and always bounce around to seven different social gatherings just so I don’t have to turn anyone down, then what is it about me that’s remarkable? My defining characteristic is being a caring sister, friend, daughter, etc. who will drop everything to pick up whoever is down. And if I say “I’m sorry, I really can’t tonight,” is there anything worthwhile about me? Will I have any reasons to be loved? And is that THE WORST reason to be a giving friend in the history of everything?

This one’s on me. I need to figure out my own boundaries and limits. I don’t want you to stop coming to me when you need a friend because I always want to be that friend. I just can’t promise to be that friend 24/7.

On the bright side, the edamame hummus was actually really tasty. How are you? Are you ok?

Sincerely,

Polly

Scylla and Charbydis

7 Jun

As I get older, I find myself more and more frequently trapped between larger and larger rocks and harder and harder places. Or, as we called Rocks’ and Hard Places’ more aquatic cousins back in the day, Scylla and Charbydis. I don’t know if the problems are just getting bigger (they are), if I’m less-equipped for dealing with them than I thought I’d be (I am), or if I’m somehow subconsciously setting myself up for anxiety-inducing decisions and situations (possible… we haven’t gotten that far in therapy). But the result’s the same: it’s a real struggle to convince myself to shower before bed (showering, you understand, being unspoken acknowledgement that I am going to work in the morning in a more real way than packing a lunch that I could just take on a picnic down to the water ever could be) ((don’t worry, I showered)).

Sometimes Scylla and Charbydis are definite problems, other times they’re more metaphorical and existential. Then there are the times when I find myself facing the perfect storm of definite and metaphorical. This is one of those times, and I’m not sure my boat is so leak-proof.

About three months ago I turned down my top choice graduate program because I am practical and they didn’t offer me enough money. Then I inadvertently found out that my employers were reclassifying my position, requiring me to reapply for the job I’ve been in for the past year and go through the whole months-long process of hiring by search committee. Cue Alanis and her black flies in Chardonnay. So, I started looking around for other jobs and allowed myself to dream of leaving, thinking that I would stay until I found something. I’ve found lots of other jobs. They just haven’t called back. Then yesterday, during my final interview for the position I already have, my boss threw this at me: “This isn’t really an interview so much as a conversation to find out how you feel about the position, because while you are doing a fantastic job and we want you to stay, we don’t want to give the position to someone who is going to leave next week.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I lied through my teeth and sold another little portion of my soul. Of course I want to stay, Boss. I just love that I spend my days actively avoiding making coffee for old men (and some not-so-old men) who seem to think that my function in the office is to be a decorative fixture whose youth makes it almost certain she knows something about computers. (Which, to be fair, I do know quite a bit about computers.)

My immediate boss is wonderful (above statement aside). I honestly could not ask for a better place to work in terms of my boss and the other administrative staff, not to mention the salary and benefits. But now I feel trapped. The opportunities for advancement are unclear and, quite frankly, even if they were a little more defined, I wouldn’t want them. Maybe it’s the hubris of my generation, but I graduated summa cum laude and am a member of Phi Beta Kappa. I am creative while still being able to think logically and analytically. The reason things run so smoothly at work, Boss, is because it takes very little effort or brain power for me to complete my tasks. Even the conferences I organize only take part of my brain, if all of my time. I should be more than this; I am more than this.

But then the cycle of guilt starts. Who am I to look down on a full time position that so many people would be grateful to have? Alternatively, who am I to take this full time position away from someone else who wants it more than I do, someone who would put in more effort and not mind showering before work?

I don’t know. I just honestly don’t know.

Justifications and such

6 Jun

The other day my coworker brought in a radish, cheese, spring onion and avocado sandwich. I, of course, immediately needed (not wanted, needed) radishes for my planned egg and avocado sandwich the next day.

I’d just been to the grocery store the night before.

But radishes…

So, I did the unthinkable. I went to Whole Foods. And it was completely justified, despite the sundry unneeded items that also ended up in my cart, because I walked.

Yup. That’s right I burned calories, not gas.

Justified.

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