Archives for Workplace
[Warning: this video might (obviously) be triggering for those of you with panic disorder. It definitely put me a bit on edge. It does end on a happy note, if that's of any consolation.] Have you ever had a panic attack in front of a large audience? I've had my (unfairly large) share of panic attacks -- but most of them were only in front of small audiences, like the gaggle of shoppers who were behind me in line at CVS when I doubled over in dizziness at checkout. (The moments between that first scanned item and that final step of swiping my payment card is akin to being stuck on an elevator between floors. After the first "beep" of the UPC scanner, I am trapped. I no longer have an easy excuse to run out of the store, if needed. I have to have to have to keep it cool and stay non-panicky, dammit, until that receipt is in my hand, right? I mean, otherwise...I'd look like a complete ass running out of there.) And, oh, the marketing meeting at my former job in a stuffy, sardine-can-of-a conference room! I'll never forget that panic attack.
So, I own a pet bird. (That's him on the left.) Actually, I hesitate to call my parrotlet a pet. He's more like a little bird friend -- a tiny little feathered dinosaur who talks. He's a comical little guy: he knows how to play peek-a-boo, he loves shredding tissues, and he's learned to imitate my laughter with near-perfect pitch. But when he gets angry -- when he doesn't want to be touched or bothered, for example -- you know it. And how do you know it? Well, he fans out his tail feathers if I try to touch him. He also fluffs up the feathers on his back. This birdie non-verbal language lets me know my little featherbutt doesn't want to play. The feather fanning and fluffing makes his pint-sized, hollow-boned bird body look bigger and stronger, as if to say, "Hey! I'm big and powerful, mom! Go away. We play by my rules because I'm the boss around here." FLUFFING UP: IT'S NOT JUST FOR THE BIRDS I don't think it's any secret that adopting a "power posture" (say, standing with your hands on your hips or reclining on a chair with your arms behind your head) can communicate a nonverbal message to someone else. Using a power posture tells others that you're the boss. You're in charge. You're the alpha. But can these confident postures tell yourself anything? Can they tell yourself that you're in charge and in control?
Here I sit at a very messy dining room table. I've been trying to get down to writing for about an hour now, but the distractions just keep piling up -- and this time, most of those distractions are objects. Yes, physical objects. Objects within an arm's reach. Objects that I know should be put (or thrown) away. A small sampling of the goodies scattered about my dining room table at this very moment: two dead AA batteries an open sleeve of crackers seven pens a pill splitter two Bed Bath & Beyond mailers a Calvin & Hobbes book a cup of pistachio shells coupon circulars two empty cups The rest of my house doesn't look much different, sadly. There's an explosion of unfolded laundry in my living room. A few hangers are scattered on the floor. Same goes for dryer sheets. And the kitchen? Ugh, the kitchen. Dishes. Some rotting vegetables in the fridge that I swore I'd eat. A cup of colored water on the windowsill from my painting project that I wrapped up six days ago now. "COME TO THE CLUTTER -- I'LL TAAAAKE THEE AWAY..." Clutter is a siren call that tries, often effectively, to lure me away from my work. Is it the same for you? "Organize me!" it sings. (They're the only lyrics, repeated ad infinitum.)
I used to be in love. I used to be in love with my At-A-Glance brand planner, the one that lists two days on a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper. Our affair began two years ago. I was captivated by its simplicity, its wide-open page spaces, and its daily "HOT" notations that sung out to me, siren-like: you, absent-minded gal that you are, can prioritize! You can! But now, everything has gone sour. It was a fatal attraction from the start: what had once attracted me had ultimately ended up repelling me. And now, I am letting you go, At-A-Glance. Perhaps there's someone else out there who will love you, but I'm moving on. UNEASE IN DISORGANIZATION Yeah, I have an anxiety problem. We know this by now, right? My official diagnosis is panic disorder, but that doesn't stop me from feeling generally anxious, GAD style, about a lot of things. Especially organizing my time and my space. I'm not alone on this one, right?
I'm so jealous of my husband's fancy-free ability to select a task and follow it through to completion. When he decides to do any kind of work around the house, he goes from start to finish. He'll clean an entire room from top to bottom -- clear the clutter, dust, vacuum, scrub, polish. And I'm lucky if the clutter-clearing doesn't take me, through a series of Wikipedia-style mental clicks, up into the attic to organize Christmas ornaments. I'm not joking. That seriously happened today.
I am chronically disorganized. Now, I like when things are all neat and tidy. It's calming. But you'll rarely see my workspace in such an idyllic state. (See the photographic evidence? That's my desk on a good day.) For the ultra-curious, no, I'm not writing this blog post at my desk because then, I'd have to clean off my desk. I'm at the [not-quite-so-cluttered] dining room table. I think a lot of household tasks are like that -- in order to accomplish one goal (use the laptop on the desk), you need to complete a few pre-requisite tasks first. I mean, you can't just swipe off your desk with your forearm. Stuff has to be put away.
(Editor’s note: This is the last in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.) If you pay attention to the news, you might have heard that the state of Oregon recently approved a plan to pay for the tuition of students who will attend community college and public universities, who will later pay back a portion of it with their future paychecks. As awesome and forward-thinking as this is for Oregon and its aspiring graduates, I was sincerely and selfishly upset when I heard this news. Couldn’t they have come up with this idea before I graduated? I’m now single-handedly responsible for paying back a massive amount of student loan debt, and kids in Oregon will get a tuition-free college education and just pay out a very small amount from their gross income over the course of twenty years after graduating if they find a job. My debt is worth more than I’ll make in years and will hike every day with interest rates going berserk. I’ll be lucky to pay it off before I turn 50.
(Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.) As if it isn’t already hard enough just to exist and not end up defaulting on rent and getting your electricity shut off, ladies get the extra special post-graduate problem of being expected to be a modern, independent woman. One of the unexpectedly unfortunate consequences of the feminist movement is that women are now more than ever required to be able to take care of themselves and stand on their own two feet without allowing attachments or men to hold them back. In fact, when you walk up to that stage and collect your diploma, you kiss your state of dependency on your parents goodbye. Your safety net is gone. LIKE A BLANKET THAT ALWAYS LEAVES YOUR FEET COLD You’re in the real world now, and it’s up to you to not fail. You are not encouraged or entitled to become a Real Housewife of Orange County, and you are instead expected to be one of the career-driven and personal-relationship-shirking Robin Scherbatskis of the world. I’m frequently uncomfortable and even ashamed when I’m around some of my friends who are moving across the country to get their dream jobs. “Oh, you wrote ads about nail polish today, Kim?" I picture them saying. "I saved an entire nursery from a burning inferno and then ran ten miles on the beach with David Hasselhoff.” I’ve settled in a terrifying city less than two hours from my home town. My accomplishments seem small in comparison.
(Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.) If you’re lucky (or if you majored in something business, math, or science related), you’ll make it through the harrowing process of applying to jobs, not make a fool of yourself or your ancestors during the interview, and actually land your first real job. Against all odds, this even happened to me. Want to know how I got the job I have now? I replied to a post about an internship for a local business and more or less manipulated them into giving me a full-time job.
(Editor’s note: This is the third in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.) Just about every single employer has the absolutely ridiculous requirement that “entry-level” applicants must have at least two years of experience in their field. Can someone please tell me how students are supposed to find time to get two years of professional experience in their field while attending college full-time and likely holding down at least one part-time job? Even most internships only last for only a semester or the summer. GOTTA GO TO WORK, GOTTA HAVE A JOB As a result of this two-year bias, many recent grads are then forced to return to the outstretched arms of crappy retail employers – the employers for whom we’ve been working ever since we were teenagers, folding shirts and harassing customers to buy multiple pairs of underwear. When I returned home after graduation and became that underwear-sorting, customer-harassing girl once again, I knew that most of my efforts to get a real job were futile.