Folks keep asking me how the new job is going. And every time they do I get shy. Embarrassed. Tongue-tied and flustered. “How’s work?” is one of those questions we ask each that’s mostly formality, salutation even. How’s work? You alright? Are your boobs real?
I get timid at the question because where I know I’m supposed to smile politely and say great thanks, yes. Still getting used to it all- haven’t buggered up yet, though! Ha, ha! I never have been a very good liar. Or adept at being polite.
An internal alarm goes off when I open my mouth to answer. Don’t seem too smug. Don’t exaggerate. Find something bad to balance out the good. For godssake don’t mention the manicures.
I’m not sure when it became A Thing to play down being so effin’ content. It’s like being coaxed into orgasm by Shia Labeouf after he invites you lie down on a bed of French lavender and hand-feeds you brie, only to then tell your girlfriends, oh dat? Dat ain’t no thang but a chicken wing. So Imma just go on ahead and say it: I’M FEELING PREEEEEETY AWESOME.
You like me less for saying that, don’t you? See! HOW IS THAT A THING?
How is it A Thing that we feel expected to dim our happiness- especially about work? Is it to make other people feel comfortable? Because they don’t love their job? Because jobs are designed to suck? In polite company it’s not becoming to push the awesome-ometer over average-to-middling, lest somebody else feels inadequate. Jealous. Threatened? Fact: We shouldn’t have to err on the side of celebratory caution when brilliant things are happening, and we shouldn’t have to squeak a yeah, fine thanks, when asked about work. Or life. Or anything.
Deal? Okay. Deal.
My new gig is the cat’s pyjamas- a smorgasbord of challenges and learning. I feel confident in my abilities- even though my accumulated experience in PR is approximately six working days. AND YET! My new boss tells me my contributions are brilliant, asks my opinions, recognises my strengths and guides me when I don’t know. And dear god GUYS. I WORK IN ALL GIRL OFFICE. I didn’t realise how much those fellas were bringing me down until we had a mani/pedi afternoon in the meeting room.
Wooops. I mentioned the manicures after all.
When I answer the question, the how’s work? semi-interested one, I find myself explaining that it’s incredible to me that in my last job, the one I quit without a plan because, quite simply, I wasn’t happy, I put up with so much shit.
Shit from my boss, shit from my own imagination- all of it. It was only six months, but the time I spent watching the clock until home time made it feel like six years. I let superiors tell me I wasn’t value for money, to not be me but somebody else, accepted the culture of quantity over quality, and got told no, I couldn’t even try that. Eventually I felt so superfluous to company success that I pissed about on Facebook and Twitter as much as humanely possible without getting fired. I didn’t so much teeter on the fine line that separates “break between tasks” from “tasks between g-chat sessions” as make that fine line my bitch. I was bored, and under stimulated, and accepted that when you take a job to pay the bills that’s just how it’s gonna be.
That is sooooo not how it has to be.
I see my worth now. I see how my years of blogging give insight into outreach programs for clients. How my naturally talkative and curious personality is basically PR 4 Lyf. I’ve got the confidence to contribute in team meetings because my suggestions are welcomed and built upon. The simple act of hearing, nice work today, Laura, is enough to mean that I feel valued. Like my turning up everyday actually matters.
I’m part of a team.
I don’t know why we accept less than we deserve. Power-hungry bosses, and lax lovers, and crappy service in restaurants. Most of the time I’m too embarrassed to not tip, even if the waitress eats half my fries on the way to the table. And I know I’m not alone. It feels self-important and a bit dick-ish to say HEY. I’M A LOVE MACHINE. AND I WON’T WORK FOR NOBODY BUT ME. Or something. You know?
I think the secret to absolute self-respect is in refusing to seek permission to be our best. Knowing our worth is going right on ahead and pulling up a chair at the I Kick Ass table because we know we deserve to be there. And who said so? WE DID.
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