At Least I Showed Up

You know what I should be doing now? Writing my work review. You know what I am doing right now? Anything but. Why? It’s hard enough when I’ve had a good work year, filled with accomplishments and successes. I tend to be too critical of myself and stress out over if what I’m writing is bolstering my accomplishes enough…or *gulp* too much. Criticizing every word, each detail, all the while taking pride in knowing that I kicked ass and took some names. But in a year where my greatest work accomplishment may have been actually showing up, I’m at a complete loss. How do you review a year where I got my ass kicked?

I’ve never had a bad review, or report card for that matter (except my first semester of college…but I’ll blame that on youthful innocence). And it isn’t that I’m bragging. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty stubborn in a I’m not going to give up way, and that’s how I approach my job too. I go above and beyond what is necessary and, in many instances, have put in more than I’ve gotten out of it. But since this isn’t a job interview, I’ll move on.

I officially went back to work two weeks after loss #4. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I was there in body, but definitely not in mind. And I was lucky, because I work with a team who really cares and are supportive. They knew exactly what had happened. They needed to, as they were there for Loss #3, and I needed them to know how very different this one was. They afforded me the space I needed, while still checking in and making sure I was not drowning in my own tears. Those days, I’m pretty sure I resembled and acted like a zombie, and that in spite of my best efforts, I probably wasn’t making much sense. My boss filled in the chairman of our board (who sent a very nice note), but didn’t go further up the HR chain, saving me the questions, paperwork and valuable time off. And I appreciated that. Still do.

But when he sent me the paperwork for my review, I panicked. Sure, I knew he understood, or at least had an idea of why my work year was lacking. But what about the people above? How do I get across that I didn’t just give up this year? (Note: Double A is constantly telling me — with much truth — that I’m being too hard on myself. So yes, I’ll admit that I still managed to do an OK job. But I’m not used to OK.) I knew I needed to talk to my boss as my boss, and also my friend to let him know my fears about this. Unfortunately when I did so, I couldn’t keep my emotions in check and got all choked up in trying to explain myself. Hate doing that at work, even if it was to a friend.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this really isn’t about my success or failure at the office or ego. It’s about my losing my ability to focus. To think straight. To think. Even now, I still feel like my head is in a cloud on most days. Sure, there’s patches of clarity, some of which last for a while and times where I can even complete coherent sentences and have some thoughts. But all in all, I’m still kinda wandering and trying to figure this out. Figure me out. You know in The Breakfast Club, where Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian Johnson is writing the letter to Mr. Vernon. Yeah, that’s me (only without the pen going up my nose).

Who Am I? Who. Am. I?

I’ve never been one to measure myself by my job, and yet at the same time, I always knew that I’ve done a good job. So when that comes into question, along with all of the other questions of “failure” that coincide with multiple losses, I just find myself in new territory. And I’ll tell you what, I’m tired of having to discover new territory. Sure, life is about discovery and exploration, but come on.

So here I sit, looking at this paper that’s supposed to define my year. And I know that not even a moment of my year would fit on this paper. Do you think I could get away  with “I think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us…” No, probably not.  But maybe, I could go with, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions, yeah, at least I showed up, and sometimes that’s all that matters.

Editor’s Note: After reading this, Double A just told me that he thinks it’s ironic that I’m being so hard on myself, when part of why I’m writing this is to help show others that they shouldn’t be so hard on themselves. I guess sometimes the truth is right in front of you…or next to me in this case.

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9 thoughts on “At Least I Showed Up

  1. I just showed up for a lot of my life this year. I agree with you, sometimes showing up is an accomplishment. But I don’t have any tips on how to convince the higher-ups of that . . .

  2. I could’ve written this exact same damn post. It’s scary. Over-achiever all my life (except that first semester at college…) and since my first loss 3 years ago I’ve gradually moved to the fringes at work. I used to be so ambitious, and then I had to switch gears to just get by, keep my work load manageable, let the others take on the challenges. Has been hard to watch my peers get the promotions, etc. but I have been lucky to have had a really supportive office too, they let me shift my role and I’m pretty happy with my job right now. What I was surprised to find is that even me at 50% was still pretty good and valuable to my coworkers. So I’ve stopped caring and made peace with it. I remember having a conversation with myself, like, what’s the worst that can happen? get fired? um, okay. that’s how low my give-a-shit got. Part of me felt like my career-mindedness for the first 35 years of my life is what got me in this mess to begin with, so no matter what i had to promise myself to put building a family first and not let work come before it.

    Okay, this way-to-long rambling comment is a perfect example of my new broken brain. But hopefully made a little sense. Really just wanted to say, you’re not alone and you’re going to be just fine.

  3. Like above – I could have written this exact post. I however, am almost positive that most days…I just show up. I think about a month ago I wrote about how my Principal and VP hauled me into their offices to tell me politely that I look like crap. Nothing about the quality of my work – but the quality of my being “present” was evidently not there and they were concerned. What I eventually reflected on was that – I am “ok” with just showing up right now. Building a family is just soooooooooooooooooo much more important to me now. Life changes, priorities shift, don’t beat yourself up. When you’ve been at the bottom and the only light you can see comes from one source – maybe it’s okay to cut ourselves a break and just “be”.

    On a totally different note. If you were to write your review with “I think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us…” you’d be my new hero 😉

    • Thanks for the reminder Tracy. I think sometimes with everything all over the place, it is easy for me to forget to cut myself some slack. I’d love to figure out how to just “be,” no thinking, or in my case overthinking everything, and just, dare I say, relax? OK, I realize that’s probably not going to happen, but a gal can dream.

      And I’m sorry to report that I can’t be your hero this time. I chickened out on the Breakfast Club review and just stuck with the limited facts…

  4. I could have written this post too, only mine would be more bitter! 😉 I work really hard, never give up and am way too hard on myself. But I also now really resent my job for the fact that I felt like I couldn’t take time off and missed only 4 days of work total through 3 losses. It sounds to me like your “OK” work and your “just showing up” equals rockstar and you should write a memo that says so 🙂

    • 4 days off for 3 losses?!? Missohkay, I dub thee super rockstar status. I think it would be hard not to feel resentful and bitter toward your job, and yet I bet you still go in every day and give your everything, right? Rock. Star.

  5. Thank you for posting this. You speak my heart. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read. I just found your post and I too have had multiple losses (5 counting last summer). I am really struggling getting back on my feet and beating myself up for not having it all together. I feel like the losses have taken such a toll on me over the last 4 years and have distracted me from focusing on my career and lately it feels like I just show up too.

    • Starfishkittydreams, I won’t say don’t beat yourself up, because I know it isn’t as easy as just saying that. So what I will say is try to be good to yourself, starting in little ways. You have been through a lot to say the very least. There’s no way you should have everything together…at least that’s what I tell myself. Some days are really crappy and sad and feel like I’m reliving the losses all over again. And some days there is a speck of hope. I never know which day it is, or when the day is going to take a turn for the better or worse. And that’s not a good feeling. But I try to take note of my better days as a reminder that they do exist.

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