This week/month at work is intense. My stress levels are at the highest they will be for the whole year and also the highest they may ever be in this job. The job works on an annual cycle and this is the first time I’ve run through it. I don’t have the hindsight to know what comes next. I’m learning as I go and handling the normal pressures of the job as well. I handle a lot of data which is processed manually and the margin for error is huge. Every day I will make a mistake but because the stakes are so high any mistake usually has a huge fallout.
Bathers: Bikiniboo on Etsy
Towel: Cotton On
Pics: My awesome mother
I often feel like I’m walking a tightrope. It’s a balance between feeling like I’m in control and feeling like I have absolutely failed. The times I feel like I’ve got things right are vastly outnumbered by the times I feel like I have failed. I’m an incredibly resilient person. I had a great boss once who developed my resilience and my ability to let things go. It takes practice and I wouldn’t survive this role without it.
It’s hard when I’m someone who cares about things deeply. I worry about the pressures my mistakes put on other people. I worry about how those people are impacted and what it feels like for them. I worry about not being able to perform my job to the high standard I expect of myself. I worry about getting things wrong. I worry about the perceptions people will have of me and my competency. I worry about the impact on my employees and what they experience will be like working for me. So I work hard at letting these worries go.
It’s hard to do that. Especially when I know the next time I do these things I will be better at them, when I can see what can be improved but I’m in no position to change it, when I can see my mistakes impact other people and I can’t change it. I measure up what I can control and I let go what I can’t. Where the stress comes in is when I know the next annual cycle, when I have more experience, a lot of these things will be in my control because I won’t be at my capacity learning so many things on top of everything else.
It’s horrible. I want to be brilliant at it now. I want to know all the answers. I want to make the work lives of other people easier because I do my job well. It takes a lot of control. Today there were times when I was at my desk and my phone was receiving calls from multiple people at once with things going wrong, people unhappy with how I had performed so far and I couldn’t let myself care. Caring would mean sacrificing time that I could be spending getting things ready for my staff. It takes a lot of focus and practice.
I got home from work today, exhausted. I’m someone who will own up to something when I’ve made an error. I’m tired of wearing being wrong. I’m tired of feeling like I’m not performing to my best. I’m tired of not caring because I really, really do. Luckily I have the best squad in the world and I’ve learned to accept support from others.
One of my good mates turned up to cook me a home cooked meal. Another messaged me the contact details for a counsellor to debrief with as well as pictures of swans. Another sent me gifs of The Doctor hugging a companion because she can’t hug me in person. Then I acted some Shakespeare to help release some of the bottled up emotion because I can’t go to Karate because I’ve hurt my back. Best of all, I’m sitting here while one of the best people ever cooks me a meal. Who does that? Like, an incredible selfless and magnificent person does that.
This is far cry from stressed me last year. I’ve got a much better managed workload and a much better activated support network. I guess that’s one big win I have control over that I can be proud of. Tonight while de-stressing we watched a movie that ended with the quote:
‘The important thing in life in life is not the triumph but the struggle.’
I can’t help by feel that for me, for all the people the results from my hard work will impact, the struggle is absolutely worth it.