PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Face of Low Morale

Not too long ago, this title was bestowed upon me, by my dear friend Kristin, who now gets to carry the title at my former place of employment. The title was her spin on the label, but the real bestower of the title was my former boss, who's a nutjob, can I just say how nice it is to say that out loud finally?

Anyway, I feel for Miss K, because we're very close, and we also have a lot of the same fiber content in the proverbial fabric of our lives, one item being, we can't pretend everything's ok. (Like Green Day's singing about right now.) That character "flaw" is what earned me the label of being responsible for all the bad morale in my department. Because, dear blogosphere, I am JUST. THAT. POWERFUL.

In a conversation this week with my new boss, he said, "I just think it would be impossible for someone NOT to like you." And I said, "Oh, don't kid yourself, they're out there."

I spent most of my youth basically begging for the world to like me. All those silly kids at school, my teachers, various boys, my parents - I defined everything in my life as others defined it for me, and their approval was necessary for me to function, as much as one can when you're expending all that energy into attaining everyone's approval. As you may know from your own experience, or can even imagine, by the time you hit your teen years, this sort of behavior hits a manic level - and suffering from depression and a deep desire to end it all, the only solution I could find was to pretend. I pretended everything was ok, and (I think this is the part that means the most) I pretended I didn't CARE. Maybe it was my own version of fake-it-til-ya-make-it, and then the weirdest thing happened: I became more popular. Now, you'd think that would teach me to not care, or perfect the art of going through life with blinders on. But the flip side was that I'd come home from a passable day and spend my evening trying to determine just how much damage I could do to myself if I flung myself out of my bedroom window. So, I've concluded that denial isn't really a good coping tool.

In order to preserve some semblance of peace at my last job, I did live in a pretend world. I hunkered down and collected my check and did a shitload of mind-numbing work. I could have hunkered down and done it for ten years, except my hair started falling out, and eventually, the real person inside me, who shouts for a living and would have no problem singing loudly in a restaurant if it made you laugh, couldn't take it anymore. It was like I was getting suffocated in the layers of crap and lies and the same daily gruel that we were supposed to fawn over and declare tasty. As I said many times in my last months there, "It sucks if the only thing you have to look forward to is lunch." So I started letting my voice speak again, because there are more of the unhappy than the soma-pill eaters, and I always think that perhaps just once, the little people can rise up and tear down the ivory towers. My swan song was at a goodbye lunch, where I bellowed about the Machine and Their Stupidity and traced the history back to when everything went south, and how I'd been telling them this for over a year, and in their slothlike managerial style, they'd rather shout "Off with her head!" than get up off the raised daias and do something.

And the very next week is when I got called in and was accused of contributing to the low morale. Damn! We had a mole at that lunch! Ahhh, Sidney Bristow would have spotted that spy and taken her out with a swift chop to the jugular.

But the next Monday after that, I quit. And I love my new job. I'm still working to shed the shreds of mummification I feel I had on me from the last job. And there's crazy stuff at the new job, sure, and there's loads to get straightened out and loads of plain ol' work to do, but nobody's telling me to silence my voice. The thing is, I don't speak from a place of making it all about me. I joke about it being all about me, all the time, but I can't shake off twenty-plus years of wanting to make other people happy. I am really good at making things better, and seeing things from multiple perspectives. I'm a problem solver and a general peace-maker, but bitch, if you wanna go toe-to-toe, bring it on, I'm not afraid to fight. But I'd rather make you laugh. As I was told at the last place, I have tremendous influence, and can have a great impact on how people react and respond to things. (Then why wouldn't you want me, the Great Influencer, to be happy? AH GRASSHOPPAH, still so much to learn.)

My joke a year ago was that I was in the Gift Shop of Vietnam. I wasn't going to get fired, and I wasn't on the front lines anymore, but I was stuck in the gift shop, would you like to buy a postcard while I waste my talents? I can give you updates on the front line action, it's horrible, but I can't do anything, I'm stuck in the fuckin' gift shop. And then I got airlifted out, and I have survivor's guilt. I love my friends and when you share a common experience, you can't turn it off and pretend it doesn't still exist, even though it's not happening to you anymore. (Well, some people can. Not me.)

And so, when I popped in on (another) goodbye lunch yesterday, I felt guilty.
Because I'm really happy. I want everyone to be happy, and I know, I can't make it so. But I'll never, EVER, stop trying. The leopard can only change so many spots, and those are stuck on me for good.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:08 AM