14 July 2010

My neurosis is spilling over

Maybe one of the most challenging things for me in terms of my work (or, really, in life in general) is to not take myself too seriously. It has been the case for as long as I can remember that when I make a mistake (even a small mistake), I tear myself apart about it for days on end. The plus side is that I typically avoid ever making that same mistake again. Ever. The downside is that I lose sleep over things like forgetting to close my window at work before heading home for the day.*

Today, I managed to show up 35 minutes late for an hour-long meeting. It was a conference call with someone who is a senior adviser for the American Psychological Association in DC, and with the program manager of the program that funds my position, and our Executive Director. So, of all the meetings to which I might show up late, this was a bad option. Nobody lectured or even really stared me down, but that's certainly a bad image to portray. It's also a particularly frustrating image considering I'm typically overly careful about timeliness. There's really no excuse, as far as I'm concerned regarding myself, for being late. There may be reasons, though, and in this case there were reasons. Specifically, the meeting was originally scheduled for noon and then was moved to 11, but I forgot to change the time on my calendar. So, I meandered about waiting for noon to come. By chance, I walked past the meeting on my way to the bathroom and then promptly changed my meandering to profuse nervous sweating. Anyway, if nothing else, it was embarrassing and unprofessional. Considering how lax my place of employment is in all other matters, the least I could do is show up on time for important meetings. That certainly isn't a good representation of our organization with other organizations, so boo on me.

On the flip side of things, I can guess that the people in DC will forget or have already forgotten that I was late. And, I triple and quadruple apologized to my ED (heh, ED) for being late, and I just can't do much more than that at this point. Anyway, why be so serious and down on myself? On a larger picture, it doesn't matter that I was late. Shiz happens and people are late and that's the way the world works. I wonder, though, how to go about convincing myself of that? There's a great chance I'll wake up again in the middle of the night and tear myself apart about it.

To stick with the general theme of my blog, I feel like there is a particularly large amount of pressure put on people to perform at incredibly high levels in the US. I know very, painfully little about other countries in terms of values around working, but I have gathered that few other countries stress work in the same way that we tend to in the United States. Naturally, that's a broad generalization that doesn't always fit. However, if that generalization holds any truth, I want to just say that I don't think that pressure to perform so "well" at work actually makes people work better or harder. In this case, I think it drives me a little bit wild. I sleep less, I stress more than could ever possibly be healthy, I tear myself apart, and in the process I end up doing worse work because I feel bad. Now, if I were you, I would be thinking, "Gol-lee! She missed half a meeting! It doesn't even matter!" Annnndddd, you're right--it doesn't matter. It's fair to mention that I'm maybe a hint more neurotic than the average person and I have REALLY high expectations for myself. All the same, it's not healthy and not necessary. The best I can do, so far as I can tell, is to always be improving while also sometimes giving myself a break. As much as I'd like to be the perfect employee, such a magical thing doesn't exist and is less likely to exist than Big Foot (whatever, I don't know if Big Foot exists) or a unicorn, maybe.

Thanks for reading if you read this far. My neurosis might rub off on you, so be careful.

*In all reality, that's a reasonable concern. I also forgot to lock my cabinets which contain immense amounts of confidential information about clients. But still, waking up at 1:30am and staring at the ceiling, filled with angst, for two hours seems a little excessive.

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