–I found my Christmas money out on the kitchen table.
—Magniloquence has a blog! And you should read it.
–After work, a concerned co-worker told me she thought I might benefit from anti-depressants.
–I have no marketable skills.
–I suspect I’ve sucked at every job I’ve ever had.
–I have nothing I’d want to do all day except blog and, as far as I can tell, there’s not a big market for my mad blogging skills.
–I have suspected for a while that I suck at my current job. I now suspect that my boss thinks I suck at my job. You’d think the fact that we’re both in agreement would ease my soul some, but really, it makes me angry and afraid.
–I have half a mind to sit on the couch and cry all evening, but if I do that, who will go get groceries?
Oh, brave internets, ease my soul. Tell me something that will make me laugh and forget my cares.
You aren’t alone in the Somewhere In-Betweens.
Aww.Now see, that’s when this distance thing becomes more of a nuisance. Because this is the time when I’d come over after work, go with you to the grocery store (it goes quicker that way), then sit around reading funny stories and eating leftover holiday food with you until you felt better.But I don’t believe for a second that you have no marketable skills. You might not have much in the way of learned skillsets (and even that, I’d find difficult to believe), but you’re smart, and funny, and know how to punctuate. And the first and the last will get you far in life, if you know how to leverage them correctly. (The second, of course, will get you through everything else)And now I am going to exercise my newfound bloggy agency and write a post about this, too.
As another winner in the "no marketable skills" department, no worries. Really…just because I have this odd suspicion that 2007 will be a general improvement over 2006.
I’ve sent you presents in the mail. Will that help? Look for your big white envelope to come on Tuesday or Wednesday. :)
Hey, you at least show up for work most days. That right there puts you ahead of at least half the population.
>You aren’t alone in the Somewhere In-Betweens.>oh, hell no.well, i am planning to go back to school, for some marketable skills (counselling, next year, assuming i get my ass in gear in time). meanwhile however…from the sound of it, your co-worker may be on to something, i think. one tends to see oneself (including one’s abilities) as well as the world through shit-colored glasses. it’s not necessarily bad news. it could be good news. at least for me, they -worked,- the anti-deps (and the talk therapy, and); that was good news.
B., having gone through this myself recently trying to find if I had in value in the workplace, I can tell you that for me at least, it was about doing what makes me feel good. They pay me, granted, but when I hired on I told the Powers that Be that it was a two way street. They needed to impress me as much as I impress them. I forget that sometimes.I become my own worst enemy so I have to go back and start all over again.If you want to move into the world of full-time blogging, write the next opus or become a stripper (always an option:)), just map yourself a plan. I started a magazine back in the early ’90’s. It was scary (and in all honesty, it sucked but it’s a matter of stepping through the open windows of opportunity and not thinking yourself out of it.) but you can do anything you want to do. It’s just a matter of finding your own personal power. You will succeed and at times, you’ll crash, but you can’t mire yourself in the shit that doesn’t pan out. You just keep going. I don’t know, because I do it too, that the crap that doesn’t work is what I tend to put too much free room and board in my cranium about. I’m trying to learn to give some of the space up to the stuff I actually at excel at.Don’t sabotage yourself. You do have marketable skills. If you tell yourself that you stumble out of the gate. Believe me, become your own biggest fan. But also, embrace the insecurity and make it your ally.Jesus, I sound like a bad self-help book, but I’m serious when I say that you have it going on. Just find your path and start running down the motherfucker.Hope I haven’t offended and much love, dear.Thinking of your from over here from the west side.
Ya know, B, I can well imagine that you might not love your job, or at least a lot of the things about it. But, judging by results, I can tell you that you are good at the essential parts of it. It’s easy to get those two things confused — at least, I’ve gone through it from time to time. Maybe antidepressants would help; maybe you just need a couple of weeks off with no dramatic family events to take away your perspective. But I think that if you could (metaphorically) step back and take a deep breath, by whatever means, you’ll find that the real truth is that you’re doing a fine job but you’d rather be doing it elsewhere or doing something else altogether. Which, as several people have suggested already, means you need to start on the process of getting yourself into a new situation. But it doesn’t mean that you’re incompetent or unskilled.And to ease your soul and make you laugh and forget your cares, I offer this factoid to be contemplated: in Ernest Tubb’s earliest publicity photos, he wore a bowler hat.
NM, you’re right. Actually, more right than you know. I am good at my job by certain, very important measures. After all, if Clarksdale and parts of the surrounding county get national historic recognition, it’ll be directly because of hard work I did.I think what bothers me is not just that we had this discussion but that we had it the day after I told him about my cousin. I mean, please, we couldn’t talk about it next week?He’s got this idea now that he wants to sit down and go through my office with me and help me figure out what I’m doing wrong. I don’t think I can bear another two hours of how I’m not doing what I should be doing.What needs to happen is that I need to sit down with him and be honest with him about how I find his style of management to be completely undermining and demoralizing. It’s just a conversation that has to happen and, in spite of how I seem on the internet, I’m not actually very good at confrontation or even addressing problems and sticking up for myself.I’m afraid I’m just going to get upset and start crying and then we’ll have to talk about why I’m crying, when really, the fact that I’m crying is not consequential to the points I want to make.Whatever happens after that, whether I stick with the job or find something else, we have to have that conversation and it scares the shit out of me.
Yecch. That conversation doesn’t seem pleasant at all.I know what you mean about confrontation. I’m very good at confrontation on the behalf of others, but absolutely awful at speaking up for myself. But you’re right, it does seem like a conversation you need to have.Do you have any strategies for difficult conversations? I’ve found that writing it out beforehand helps, and then saying it aloud, either by yourself or to someone with a sympathetic ear. It seems silly, and can be difficult to get started, but just like someone noted when Dr. B. reviewed The Book of No, it’s really helpful. Just saying it helps get the rhythm in your head, makes you less likely to trip over the words, and gives you a chance to think about the way you’re going to feel and sound.I always bring the written thing with me, too. If I choke completely, I can read it aloud word for word, or just hand it to the other person to read for themselves. Reading it yourself gives your eyes somewhere to be that’s not on the other person, and gives your hands something to do as well. It can add to the embarrassment, but it can also act as a shield.If possible, it’s also helpful to have a neutral or allied third party with you. I know that’s really difficult in the workplace, because it’s hierarchical that way, but if there’s another manager you like and trust, or someone higher up who can place a word here and there, it can really help.Building in boundaries, structurally, can be useful. While work schedules aren’t the most accomodating things, if you schedule your difficult conversation for a time when you’re likely to have an out (end of the workday, just before lunch, before a meeting you know he has to go to), you’ll know that whatever happens, you won’t have to immediately face the person afterward. If you need to go to the bathroom and cry, or leave and collect your head, building room for that lets you be a little bolder in your conversation. If you don’t know that you’ll be able to detox, you’re likely to hold back because you know you have to get through the day.On the note of what was actually said, that seems… unspeakably rude, to me. The anti-depressant thing may have been intended to be helpful ("You’re going through a rough patch; I found these things to be helpful, and think you might as well."), but was intrusive, at the least. On the subject of the job itself, management is… tricky. Some organizations build it in very well (like my last job), and others don’t at all (my current job); when it’s not built into the culture, it gets left up to individual personalities, and it seems like you got a really unfortunate match.So (and these are thought questions, not ‘answer here’ questions, unless you really feel like sharing. You are perfectly free to e-mail me and continue this conversation there, too), what about this management style, exactly, is bothering you? Which aspects are harmful, and which are just things you would prefer to hear differently? Is there anything this person does well, managing you? What kind of feedback do you prefer to get? What kind of feedback do you prefer to give? Are there any needs you have that are not being met by your current management relationship?Writing this all out (or just thinking about it) can give a map to what you need to say. If you want to be really, well, me about it, you can make a plus/(minus/)delta chart.Add in a sandwich method, (positive, negative/delta,positive) and the clear, respectful tone that you’re so good at, and you have the framework for making a difficult conversation less difficult. State your needs for time to process your unfortunate family problems (seriously, there is no reason for this to be happening right now. Death of a relative, even a problematic relative, is traumatic, and any manager with a lick of sense will respect that), and give a clear indicator of when you would be willing to talk."Thank you for your concern. I know that we need to discuss things about my performance recently, and I would like to schedule some time when we can go discuss this in more depth. Unfortunately, I am still dealing with the death of my cousin, and I won’t be in a good place to have the kind of conversation we need to have until <sometime soonish, but not too soon>. Can I make an appointment for then?"I don’t mean to sound preachy. This may not work for you. I hope some of it is useful, though, and I hope that whatever you do, it works out well.
Aunt B! I went through this very same thing last year around NY. I was planning on leaving my job. And it was misery trying to figure out how to market what I could do. . . . it is no easy task. You have more skills than you give yourself credit for. You just have to push on, no matter what & keep trying to figure out what it is you want to do… Hell, while I am happy with my now no longer *new* job (been there 6 months) – I know that transactional law is NOT what I am going to retire doing. The thought of trying to figure out WTF it is that I can, want and am able to do is scary as hell. For a good laugh – check out my blog archives. Oh, I’d say there are plenty of random, insane rants ranging from Janaury through end of May re: my efforts at finding a new job & trying to figure it all out!Whatever it takes – know that things can only get better! I’m sending tons of positive energy your way to help you get through this! xoxox, ~ tati
B, before you have that conversation consider well whether you think the guy can change in the ways that would make the situation better. (First you have to figure out concretely what those ways would be, and a way of suggesting them that sounds supportive, not antagonistic. But you know that.) From things you have told me before, I wonder whether he’s going to be able unless you are able to be very concrete and specific about changes that would be helpful. If you think he isn’t, then telling him his shortcomings may be counterproductive.
I can’t add much to the excellent advice of Magniloquence and NM, they are dead on. However, I want to add the element of power and empowerment. Newscoma made the point that her employment is a 2 way street and they have to earn her buy in as well. What does your boss/employer need to do for you? Don’t allow him/her to go through your desk/office, that is a very dominating power play aimed at putting you in a submissive position. In an academic environment, I would think that the strict and hierarchical employment ladder is as much out of vogue as in the private sector. My boss would never pull that crap with me. In corporate speak, we are "partners" working "together" to achieve. I am as much the boss of him as he is of me. You deserve the same treatment at your position. They benefit from your skills and work, not the other way around. Seek for yourself the equality and treatment that you deserve and if this person can’t work with you or meet your standards, them look at what options are available for you at your job and not necesarily leaving that job.That crack about anti-depressants? Just another power play to put you in your place. Your boss is using the very tools of the patriarchy on you that you despise. I say this only because I’ve been there, I called bullshit and I learned a dangerous lesson. It cost me, but I only play by my rules now. Well behaved women stay home, Bad girls go everywhere.
As the spokesman for the Tools of the Patriarchy, we disavow the passive-aggressive douche that B works for.His treatment of women at work is in retaliation for his emasculation at home.
B.,Has it gotten any better for you this weekend?
Newscoma, it really has, thanks. I’m feeling better anyway. I had a good cry in the bathroom and realized that my underlying feeling is one of frustration, not of failure, so that helps.Sarahclark, as you probably can guess, I have nothing against anti-depressants, but I do think that what I’m feeling is normal for someone in my circumstances. If things started to objectively improve and I didn’t feel any better, I might consider it then, but right now, I feel like how I feel is an accurate response to the kinds of stuff I’ve been going through.And good lord, I’m not happy with how things are at work. I don’t want to take drugs to make it seem acceptable. I want it to be acceptable.Anyway, thanks for all y’all’s support. I have a lot to think about and I need to come up with a game plan for how I want this meeting to go.It’s hard, too, because I have the job that should be perfect for me and one that a lot of folks would kill for and yet it’s not working for me. That’s hard to accept.
FYI, your ace in the hole if the Alleged Boss of You gets hateful: he’s in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by suggesting that you need anti-depressants. By doing that, he perceived/is perceiving you as disabled and treated/is treating you differently than your co-workers. But you can reassure him that you know that wasn’t his intention but it better not happen again or you’ll have to talk with HR about it together, won’t you?His name must be Richard. Gaaaaah.Good wishes to you for a more excellent year, darling. We love and admire you for the grand person you are and the great work you do.
Speaking of Gaaaaah: No wonder I always got marked down in reading comprehension skills. It wasn’t the Alleged Boss of You who said that about the meds. Ignore my comment. Well, ignore the first paragraph. The second and third still stand.Gaaaah.
"but I do think that what I’m feeling is normal for someone in my circumstances"Trust that feeling, B.I felt like that when the fit hit the shan a year and a half ago…. got written up at work, stressed beyond belief, etc. Finally went to see a counselor in our Employee Assistance program, who listened to what I had to say about conditions in my office, and agreed that not only was I pretty normal, but told me that in her opinion, I had held up against the misery BETTER than most people would have. And Strongly Encouraged me to find another job. (which I’m still trying to do, but eh. THey aren’t exactly falling off of trees ’round here.)
Dude(ette)!No one who can write like you can EVER lay claim to not having marketable skills. Between novels, magazines, screenwriting and the like there must always be a demand for talented writers.You could make a fortune off of those skills. Just listen to what your friends and readers are telling you. You Rock!
I have a similar situation at my job (clueless boss, although at least mine means well), and I second nm’s suggestion (that you think of concrete things your boss can do/change). A few years ago, everyone in our dept took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (a personality test), something I knew a lot about, and that has given me a neutral vocabulary to use when speaking to my now-boss about his problems with supervising. He’s a first-time boss, and *his* boss micromanages everyone, so his obvious role model is teaching him all the wrong things. My boss is also very thin-skinned, so treading carefully is important. [I’m an INFP; my boss is an ISTJ; his boss is an ESTJ.]Aunt B, I agree with everyone else who thinks you have marketable skills. Likely you are under-utilizing them where you are now, but you do have them. Sending a long-distance cyber-hug (if that’s not too weird, since you don’t know me) from Indiana.~Mychelline
As someone who was just put on Zoloft to deal with my perimenopausal mood swings (and, admittedly, as someone who doesn’t know you at ALL), I’m throwing my two cents in: I say CONSIDER a (temporary) antidepressant while you’re dealing with the transition.Why? Not only does a serotonin uptake inhibitor (Zoloft, Prozac) make one feel less depressed, it also works to calm anxiety, panic and mindgrinding (obsessive thoughts). So, if you find yourself thinking in circles or backed into a corner with a (perceived) lack of options, an antidepressant can help you think more clearly. Then, when you’re in a better place, you can just stop taking them!As for moi, I shall probably be on Zoloft until menopause . . .