It’s a question people ask me often, because they’re polite, and because my job is still relatively new, and because I don’t do enough other interesting things to make smalltalk easy.

Usually I say that it’s okay, or even good, and sometimes it really is. But for every good or okay day, there’s another that’s very frustrating. It’s frustrating because there’s so much to do, in so many different categories of projects, and everything’s a high priority, even if it’s not, because if it isn’t it might not ever get done because there’s so much other high-priority work. I thought at first that I’d probably reach an equilibrium point to work in and out sometime in the beginning of next year, but I’m starting to worry that I might never get caught up. I might just get further and further behind.

It’s frustrating because I put in about 45 hours of work a week on average (that’s solid work, not counting lunches or downtime or chatting with co-workers, of which there’s little) and spend 12 or 13 driving to and fro, which means during the weekdays, I usually write or spend time with Kim, but not both. It’s frustrating because I have arguments in my head with people at work where they criticise me for being 5 minutes late or getting a project done late and I come up with all of these sarcastic replies that make me a little bitter. Of course, the conversations never happen in real life.

It’s frustrating because I realize that all of my complaints are just a subset of the standard American worker’s complaints, and really I have it better than a lot of people with the same complaints (people who put in 60 hours a week or have bosses who really do yell at them), but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

It’s frustrating because the only outlet I feel I have is to talk about it (to be read as “complain”), but it violates my unachieved sense of masculine honor to complain about things that are not cruel or unusual, if even those. (Note that I do not mean to imply that not to complain is a trait that is masculine in nature, but only that one needs to possess that trait, in my opinion, to bear a sense of masculine honor.)

I am dismayed that I often spend my whole drive home (and often to work, as well) stewing over these things. I feel like I’m somehow being treated unfairly, though I can’t put my finger on how. I don’t think anyone else could get more done, and most people probably couldn’t get done as much as I have, so what right do they have to ask me to do so much? The only possible outcome is that I fail to get everything done, or I fail to get it done at a sufficient level of quality. After all, my only really goal is to please them, so why don’t they help to create an environment in which I can do that?

As I was mulling over these things on the way home today, trying not to mull them over but failing badly, I realized that to please other people is not my goal. My goal is to excel with as little effort as possible. When I say “excel”, I don’t mean to do a good job, but to do a better job than someone else, either a previous positionholder or some imagined possible replacement. The pride I seek isn’t in a sense of quality, but a sense of superiority. I am looking for the satisfaction of seeing that I’ve done a better job than they could possibly imagine, but while being lazy about it.

What an asshole!

No wonder there’s no empathetic click in other people when I describe my dilemma. They see or feel what I did not, because my expectation of satisfaction is fetishistic (in the sense that it seeks satisfaction from an action that is not naturally inclined to produce the desired results). It’s true that I’m looking to other people for my own self worth, but not because I’m trying to please them (or not entirely – there is still good in me) – because I’m trying to elicit awe from them.

I think the thing of it is, I have to be satisfied with a B+ instead of an A+. Sometimes I have to be satisfied with a C, when it doesn’t really matter. I know I’m long since out of school, but the analogy is apt, and particularly appropriate for me because school shaped this behaviour in me. (Or rather, I shaped this behaviour in my response to school).

I have to ask what I really want out of work. Is it a consistant paycheck? Really, yes. So if I feel like I can do so much better of a job than the average person who might have had my job, doesn’t that mean I can relax on the self-pressure and still be something more than satisfactory?

Do I want advancement? Definitely! But what do people get advanced for? For success in achieving individual goals, or for force of personality? I would suggest that the latter is much more likely – how many people do you know who plug away at their job, really doing bang-up work, but take the slow path into success? I know quite a few.

I think the key here is that this is not an excuse to be lazy, to slack off at work, or to accept poor quality. The key is that I can’t expect my sense of other people’s amazement at my abilities to be an indicator of my success, since it’s really the disguise of a selfish and non-productive motivation, and it doesn’t really lead to the desired results anyway.

Hmmm.

That has got to be the most boring and self-referential post I’ve produced so far. I hope it is. If you’re still reading at this point, Thanks! Or… I’m sorry!

But… maybe just ask me in a few weeks if I’m happier in my job. I hope I will be!

Advertisements