(Current music: Harry Nilsson, “My Good Old Desk”)
I should start by acknowledging my last (tongue-in-cheek) entry and mentioning that, by all outward appearances, my “romantic prospect” has passed on my offer (turns out they are seeking a more serious commitment), so that is not a thing. Plus, working on my “marriage” has been taking up a lot of my time and energy lately, and I must admit that once the weekend rolls around I am happy to have Me Time rather than an additional engagement.
I’ll also mention that album recording is finished, and I am in the process of cranking out final mixes that I’m happy with and that meet all the necessary parameters to make my mastering engineer’s job reasonable. Though there’s quite a bit of work left, I am pretty excited about how things are shaping up.
The main thing I’m here to say tonight is this: it has become more difficult to tell whether my job actually sucks as hard as I think it does, or if it just feels like it does because it forces me to confront my deepest insecurities on a daily basis.
I’ve long had non-descript, undiagnosed learning difficulties. Despite being identified as “gifted and talented” in the early days of such designations, getting good grades (which I consistently did) was never a matter of coasting for me. Excellence was a rough ride. Ease with one-size-fits-all learning methods eluded me, and success required break-neck, wee-hours study sessions (which, of course, followed hours of procrastination and catch-up sleep after cyclical deprivation).
It’s easy enough to apply “bootstraps” mentality to this and view the whole thing as a struggle to overcome laziness and bad habits in pursuit of personal excellence. But I’ve long suspected it was something more. This hunch led me to seek an adult ADHD diagnosis a few years ago, but that endeavor was inconclusive: the coping mechanisms I’d carefully crafted and the success I’d consequently garnered made diagnosis in my mid-thirties next to impossible. And what would diagnosis have brought about other than a prescription for a drug, which, debatably, I don’t need, given my relative functionality. (It also happened that the nature of my day job changed around that time, and the variety and high-pressure nature of it actually made my difficulties less of an issue.)
Now, however, in the midst of a new initiative, the old struggles are back with a vengeance. I am required to learn largely by self-study, which involves long stints of reading dull reference materials; this knowledge is then tested in question/answer sessions with folks – trainees I am tasked with leading – who are often quicker with resources than I as well as more skilled in the art of chess-master anticipation (by that I mean foreseeing how a procedure will unfold 27+ steps in advance). I am regularly impressed, intimidated, and overwhelmed by my role as an unofficial instructor of these people.
After a few private breakdowns witnessed only by Domestic Partner, I have been driven to accept that operating under these conditions will never be a strong point of mine. (This observation comes on the heels of a department meeting in which a handful of employees confessed, before upper management, to similar challenges and feelings of overwhelm, but who were seemingly dismissed as slightly unstable outliers.) It’s just not the way my brain works, and though I may improve at some things, it will never be my natural inclination.
What this has come to mean is that, to fulfill my job duties, I have had to humble myself and admit that I need help (something that is both foreign to and challenging for me). I have a co-worker who is good at quickly synthesizing elements of a fast-paced discussion and articulating answers while ALSO maintaining social niceties and small talk AS WELL AS applying any technical skills that may be required for an activity – and, at my suggestion, this person and I now operate on the buddy system. It is not imposter syndrome talking when I say his support gets me through the day.
I’m not gonna lie: it smarts to feel like a weak(er) link on a daily basis, and I *despise* not being the publicly recognized whiz kid; but I have no choice other than to accept my shortcomings and face the fact that I (and lots of others like me) absolutely CANNOT do all this alone. In fact, when I think about it: some of my favorite leaders have had a unique knack for recognizing their own weak spots and enlisting people to fill in those gaps.
I’m still working on self-acceptance to be honest, so I’ll put this here as a reminder. It has hit the spot for me ever since I saw it more than fifteen years ago.