On being a mean human

The other day I looked myself right in the eyes in the mirror and thought “stop being such a moron.”

It was, as it always is, work related. In my personal life, I generally don’t think I am stupid. Well, there was that long interlude of ..never mind that. At work I think I’m stupid quite frequently. In this case, my crime was that I didn’t immediately know the answer to several questions which folks ask me via email.

There are reasons for feeling dumb at work. Partly because I support multiple complex applications without much in the way of training. Things are in a continual state of change, the stakes are high, and it can be hard to be as much of an expert as I want to be in all of the things I am expected to be an expert in. No one knows everything, but for some reason at work I think I should.

But that isn’t really the problem. It’s the excuse for the problem.

The problem is why I think it’s OK to think of myself as stupid, or constantly tell myself that I am.

If I thought a friend was making decisions that were unwise, I would never tell them they’re an idiot. It would be mean, and they’d immediately stop listening to anything else I might have to say. Are my friends always perfect? No. Sometimes they do things that aren’t necessarily good decisions. And sometimes I feel like I need to point it out.

But that decision would never start with “ boy are you an idiot!” It might start with “this thing you are doing is dangerous, and I’m worried” or “this thing is making me feel a certain way.”

So why do I, why do WE (we all do it) treat ourselves so much more unkindly than we would ever treat our friends?

That, my friends is why we have counseling and friends who tell us to not be so hard on ourselves. I’ve made so many strides in my personal life, but work is the one area I still need to get over myself in.

Work on work self in progress.

Friend talk

It is not one of the secrets of the universe that I am wildly blessed in the friend department. Friends, you know who you are. This post is particularly dedicated to my core friend group. The ones in the group text chat. My friend brothers and sister. The ones I say good morning to in the morning, and whine to when work is a pain.

The group text has a bad reputation, but most people don’t have a group text chat with *my* friends. The ones who are the best people in the whole entire universe.

Typically it starts before I even wake up with a gif from everyone’s favorite recycling raccoon. Then I have coffee in bed and we chat for a few minutes before the rest of us go to work. If anyone is off work, they gloat a little. Sometimes we hate on the retired guy. A little. Envy isn’t pretty.

We do what friends do. Cheer each other up. Talk smack about bad exes. Say cheers when we’re having a cocktail. Tell each other not to be dumbasses when one of us needs to hear it.

These people not only get me through every single work day, but they get me through pandemics, heartbreak, hangovers, bad attitudes and are one of the main reasons for all of the really fun times. They send pictures of grandkids, golfing, alley art and cocktail glasses. They are smart and funny. Incomparably good looking and wise. They make my life better every day by just being part of it.

Am I grateful to know them? Oh, yeah.

One possible scenario

Someone assigns me a service request which I don’t immediately understand. I get a little anxious, start to look for information. Then someone asks me a question which I don’t know the answer to. It’s not even 7am and I feel like an idiot already. The internal voices start a running commentary. It’s heavy on words like “idiot” and “incompetent.”

My logical brain knows very well that I am neither.

My inner voice disagrees. Strongly. My inner voice is not nice to me at all. So what did I do about it? I cried. A little. Then I sighed and said “give yourself a fucking break. You know how to troubleshoot. Start asking questions. Break the problem into components.”

And I did.

Then I reminded myself of something. If someone asks me questions, it’s because they think I know things. You don’t go to the person you think is an idiot for advice about an issue. You ask someone you think might know the answer.

My inner voice should really know better.