Monthly Archives: May 2013

Fear Paralysis

I have always taken great pride in being busy, working hard, and completing a high quality work product. This is a lifelong quality that I am immensely grateful to my parents for instilling in me.  I am deeply offended when people suggest that I do not take my work seriously or do not try to do my best. By no means am I perfect! But I strongly believe I deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Although I never relish being told that I have made a mistake, I do thrive on constructive criticism. I am proud to say that I would rather learn and get better than have people walk on eggshells for fear of offending me. I feel that in general I bounce back pretty quickly from unpleasant sessions of criticism. But I am rapidly coming up on my two-year anniversary at my current job, and something that happened yesterday has me convinced that I will need to move on soon.

I won’t (indeed, ethically can’t) go into details. The gist of the situation is, I was asked to do something that included providing a document to another party. I did not recognize the document and was understandably hesitant to send it out of the office without being absolutely sure of what it was and why we were providing it. I went on an expedition to figure this out, ultimately asking my boss the question. She flew off the handle at me, angry that I had even considered the possibility that she had made a mistake. (Literally, she said “You are here to check if I made a mistake?!?” I replied, “Sure, I think everya mistake.” “REALLY?!? REALLY.”). She asked me if I could accomplish this “simple task” or if I needed to just give it back to her to do herself. I told her I was simply asking a question. She said, venomously, “Yes.”

So I went back to my office and proceeded to complete the task, and she sent me an equally venomous email about how she was insulted by my behavior and does not need me to “second guess” her. Not to mention, she CC’ed the other associate on this email although he was not in any way involved with the situation. She later went into his office, closed the door, and spoke with him for about an hour. She later opened the door and spoke about case-related matters. I know from experience that it is entirely likely she was discussing the situation that involves me, while purposely excluding me.

I really wanted to reply to the email. I even prepared a draft reply. (Having shut my office door and proceeded to quietly cry for about an hour). But, I do not believe it is prudent to fire off an email to your boss when you are upset. So I decided to wait for a day to pass to see if I would cool off. In the meantime, I went about my work for the rest of the day and received a few more emails from my boss that were much more professional and minimally polite.

I have not cooled off.  I feel she was way out of line. The gist of my email (which I still have not sent) includes (a) an apology for any insult, and a statement that n; (b) an explanation of the specific reasons why I had questions, which I failed to articulate in the row yesterday; (c) a statement that I believe my value as an attorney, in part, lies in making sure errors are not made and that I am sorry to see my employer does not appreciate that; and (d) a statement that I am likewise insulted by the implication that my actions in of service justify the negative implication that I was  “second guessing” or “incapable of a simple task.” I feel it is phrased as neutrally as possible (but not entirely neutrally). I feel I have the right to contribute to this conversation. But I am terrified of clicking “send.”

For completely unrelated reasons that will be the subject of another post, I really do not feel that I’m in the position to start looking for a new job right now, either. Neither do I want to “job hop” or leave my first attorney position in a negative light. My unsent response email closes with the phrase, “As always, my goals are to be helpful, to serve the client, and to grow professionally.” I fear doing anything that will jeopardize that. Plus, now I feel like the moment has passed and I will be perceived as stubborn and petty if I hold onto it.

I would rather have this discussion in person. There is inherent danger in putting job dissatisfaction in writing, especially to be sent directly to the person who pays you. And conversations are supposedly easier to manage and ultimately move past. The problem is, every time I try to approach my boss in person she reacts very poorly, and inevitably sends me an email that is just as hurtful afterward. I have lost all faith that she intends to establish any meaningful dialogue with me regarding our conflicts. It is this point that is pushing me over the edge. I feel I have been very realistic and patient with the fact that every employer will do things you do not like. But I am not sure how to continue to manage this situation with no hope of improvement.

So, I’m currently left in a state of turmoil. No matter how much I try to take my mind off of it I am struggling to find peace. I have no doubt that the anxiety of this situation impacts my work and the rest of my life, too. Just, ugh.


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Room to Breathe

So since my last post I went on a truly incredible vacation, I fell off the good health bandwagon, I endured a lot of frustration at work, I moved into a new house, I got some great news, and I recommitted to my diet and exercise routine (and just now I recommitted to blogging!). But today I’m writing about atmosphere.

When we moved into our apartment two years ago, I was still jobless and had no idea when or if I would have any income. It was the cheapest place I could find that would fit our family. It had a bedroom, a loft-style room, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. It had carpet everywhere but the kitchen and bathroom. BAD carpet. I came to find out it was susceptible to disgusting mold, and bugs, and creepy neighbors, and general awfulness. But at the end of the first least we could not afford to move and had to stick around another year. By last month I felt like I was not going to survive this place. I dreaded going home (and I dreaded being at work), so life was pretty miserable. I would try to just curl up on the couch or in bed and pretend the rest of the place did not exist. This led to a bad, self-perpetuating cycle of the apartment getting grosser and grosser and me getting more and more stressed out about it. Cash felt the same way, so as much as I found it difficult to take pride in my home he found it difficult to help me do so. It was a bad situation. And let me tell you, it was number one on the list of things that had to change before we have a baby. I would never put an infant in that environment.

All that complaining, and I am deeply cognizant of the fact that millions of people in this world live in vastly less palatable circumstances. I don’t think that people who were born and raised in the middle class–people like me–understand the significant impact of the intangible experience of poverty on human life. Of course I can in no way be said to have lived in “poverty” because of my bad apartment. But I felt like it was a taste of how exhausting and fruitless the simplest actions can feel, when you cannot afford comfort at home. It makes cooking harder, which leads to unhealthy and expensive restaurant food, which leads to reduced savings and inability to invest in your future. It makes cleaning harder, which leads to poor health, more frequent medical visits and bills, and again, reduced savings and inability to invest in your future. It makes staying organized harder, which leads to difficulty keeping important documents together and can also lead to missed payments, missed opportunities, etc. You probably get my point by now.

I am especially aware of the atmosphere factor the last few weeks because we moved into our first single-family residence at the end of April. Wood floors (a priority for me because all four of my pets are shedders), fenced backyard (again important for the pets), enough room to appropriately organize (not just “stash” and “hide”) my things, a clothesline, a shady neighborhood off the main streets! It’s an old place and it has its little faults, but I love it. It feels like home, a feeling I haven’t had in a long time. My time at home is restful, not stressful. I am proud of it and I enjoy doing all the little things that keep it nice…all the little things I could not bear to do in the apartment.

We are so lucky we found this place, and that we are in a position to afford it. I know that millions of people could not dream of what we have: just a little room to breathe.

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