There was a letter on Ask a Manager from a person who was more productive than their coworkers in the best of times and was even more productive during the pandemic. They were open about being fortunate that they didn’t have kids and they were flourishing in a non-open space work situation. Their manager told them they needed to cut back on their productivity because they were stressing out their coworkers. All the work had to be pushed forward together, and the coworkers all had children and other stress-inducing things in their lives. The writer noted that their anxiety was kept in check by their work, and they were afraid they would spiral without it. They also didn’t like the idea of taking a paycheck while deliberately slowing their pace. They wanted to know what they should do.
Alison said that it was not a great way of managing in normal circumstances and wasn’t great now, either, but that the letter writer (LW) should at least try doing as her manager ordered. Then, if it didn’t work for them, they could go back and ask to rejigger. My word, not hers.
I thought it was an interesting letter and that Alison’s answer was solid–but also missed addressing the fact that the LW was dealing with their own anxiety issues. The comment section surprised me, though it shouldn’t have. There were so many people saying they wished they had the LW’s problem, Alison had to put a blue note up at the top telling them not to do that unless they had concrete advice to include. There were also people scolding the LW for making their coworkers more anxious, as if that was their problem. It was disheartening because I identified with the LW to some extent.
Not the productive part because I”m exactly as productive as I was before. I’m keeping to my schedule and not deviating from it. I’m not suddenly learning another language or baking creative pastries or knitting anything. I’m just keeping pretty much to my life in general except I’ve only been to one place in the last month–the pharmacy. Oh, and, becoming way too fucking intimate with Zoom. If I never have to use Zoom again, it would be too soon. It’s better than nothing for taiji, though–I have to give it that.
But, here’s the key thing. My anxiety hasn’t soared except for the free-floating low-key anxiety about the coronavirus. I’m anxious all the time in general, and I’m actually less so right now. It’s because I’m better in times of crises, which is part of PTSD, apparently. Yes, my sleep is shit, but I’m dealing with it. I don’t feel I can say it, however, as I know how it sounds.
Another meme I’ve seen is about introverts checking in on our extroverts during these times. The idea being that they can’t handle this and need guidance, comfort, love, and support in order to deal with self-isolation. I’m not saying it’s not true, but why the fuck is that the problem of introverts? During ordinary times, we’re cajoled to being more outgoing (in general. I’m not because my friends are chill and I don’t work in an office). The whole world is geared towards extroverts (which I keep writing as extraverts), and those of us on the other end of the spectrum have had to adjust to it. As someone pointed out in another Ask a Manager post concerning this meme, why can’t extroverts take care of each other? Why is it on the introverts, who need more battery recharging time to cosset the extroverts?
It’s just difficult because I already know that I’m an outlier in so many ways. I am painfully aware that most people don’t agree with me on, well, anything. So, now during this pandemic, I just have to add my reaction to that? It’s funny because my new doctor (or temporary doctor, not sure which it’ll be yet) mentioned that some of her patients with anxiety were actually doing better now. I think it’s because the worst HAS happened and that’s when we really shine. I’m always preparing for the worst, and that’s pretty much now.
I had a strange dream last night about an ex of mind who really fucked me up for the longest time. Then, because of something my mom said, I had to rethink everything I knew about him. She was right, and I kicked myself for not seeing it sooner. In addition, I clung to the fact that he was a good guy for far too long because he was my best friend before we started dating. I’m not saying he was a terrible man, but he was a weak man. He wanted what he wanted and he didn’t care how he got it. He was a selfish man in that he wanted his cake and to be able to eat it, too,
By the way, I’ve had more than one ex like this. Wanting to be open on their end while not being able to handle me doing the same. Back then, I gave in because I wanted to please my partner (both men, by the way). These days, I’d laugh in their face. I’ve long since acknowledged that I wouldn’t be good in a relationship for several reasons, and I have to admit that reading advice columns has hardened me even further to the idea, specially with a man. I know it’s partly confirmation bias and the fact that ninety percent of letters are written by women and ninety percent of the letters are hetereonormative*, but shit. All those women trying desperately to placate the fragile egos of their male partners is just so fucking discouraging in part because that’s me in a relationship. I’ve slowly changed it, but not enough to want to risk dating a dude.
I also don’t like the implication that someone who doesn’t want to live with their partner is commitment-phobic or afraid of something. Our society is so gung-ho about people coupling up and views being single as either a flaw (and immature) or something to be pitied. I fucking love living on my own. I love being able to do my own thing whenever I want and not being beholden to another person. Beholden to my cat, sure, but he’s pretty low-key. Or the idea that if you’re a woman in a het relationship, if the man doesn’t propose to you by a certain time, he’s trying to ‘get the milk for free’. That I still see this mentality in the year of our lord 2020 from women, no less, depresses the fuck out of me.
Don’t even get me started on the having to procreate bullshit. I got that when I was in my early twenties, and that was a quarter of a century ago. I had really hoped that it would be better by now, but it’s not. There’s still the expectation that a woman will pop out the progeny in a timely manner, and I really wish that wasn’t the case.
If asked my opinion, I mostly say I’m just not the relationship/marriage/mothering kind, but I really want to blast people for assuming this is the default or that it’s even healthy for everyone. Back in my twenties, if I was pushed too hard on why I wasn’t having children, I would say that I could change my mind any day (up to a certain point, of course), but I couldn’t change my mind once I had a kid. I also never understood any of the reasons other than wanting to have one. Who’ll be there to take care of you when you’re old? Having a passel of kids is no guarantee that any will be around when you die. You’ll love your kid once you set eyes on them. That was such an obvious lie, I couldn’t even pretend to give it credence. That along with “It’s different when it’s your child” in response to my statement that I didn’t like children. I mean, child abuse is a thing, and I knew I had the capacity in me to abuse my children if I had any. In addition, I didn’t think it was good parenting to scream, “Get the fuck away from me! I can’t stand to be around you!” every three days, and I wasn’t willing to pay for a lifetime of therapy for my hypothetical traumatized kids.
The biggest thing, though, is that I didn’t want kids. I never have, and it was a relief when I realized it wasn’t required of me. It’s the one decision I’ve never regretted. In fact, I just get happier about it as time goes on. I had a taiji classmate tell me he thought I’d be a good mother even after I explained why I never wanted children and thought I would have sucked at it. It was frustrating because I know myself pretty well, and I wasn’t trying to elicit sympathy or reassurance. I know I would have been a bad mother, and more to the point, I didn’t want to be one. I used to say I liked children but didn’t want one. Now, I have to acknowledge that I don’t like children in the collective, much as I don’t like people in the collective. I like certain ones and want the best for everyone in general, but would I choose to spend my time with children? No. Just as I would not choose to spend my time with people in general.
My rambling point is that there’s a wide range of reactions to, well, everything. I can usually see someone else’s point of view even if I don’t agree because I’m used to running into opinions that differ from my own. I suppose it’s a good thing, but I’ll be honest in that I wish I didn’t have to use it so often.
*Percentages pulled firmly out of my ass.