I find myself waking up with a racing heartbeat and a foul knot in the pit of my stomach more frequently these days. My best guess is that the largest stressor in my life right now is my job, only it isn’t the work causing me anxiety.
I have spent most of my life terrified of authority figures, and even though I adore my boss and think we work extremely well as a team, I can’t help but wonder if I’m stressing myself out over the idea of disappointing him.
On the job, I am devastated when my boss suggests any sort of dissatisfaction with my work. At face value, I recognize the absurdity of this stressor. I work damn hard and perform the best that I can on a regular basis, and I’m still fairly new at what I’m doing, so the expectation of perfection is ludicrous.
I need to go easier on myself, and I’m working on holding myself to more realistic expectations.
And yet, it’s always in the back of my mind that my boss is skilled at hiding his disdain for people when it would compromise a business relationship. He confessed at a happy hour once to bearing deep resentment for one of our coworkers who mistreated his family member, but when I see the two of them interact in the office, there isn’t even a suggestion of any such grudge. I sincerely admire my boss’s professionalism, but this demonstration has proven to me that if my boss ever decides he doesn’t like working with me, I will never know.
I am the type of person who would rather confront those challenges head on and be notified as soon as possible when someone is no longer interested in having any type of relationship with me — business, personal, romantic, whatever. False fronts annoy the hell out of me and are neither productive nor rewarding. Under those circumstances, I would rather we both spend our energy on relationships that actually do matter and just politely ignore each other in passing. So, I fear that if my boss ever does come to resent anything about me, I won’t be able to fix our relationship because I won’t know what’s wrong.
My boss surprised me with a generous Starbucks giftcard a few weeks ago as an early birthday gift and genuinely thanked me for all that I do for him, adding that I make his life “so much easier” and that he hopes I stay with the company “for a very long time.” The gesture moved me and brought me to tears.
I am incredibly thankful both for his kindness and that his gesture symbolized the satisfaction he feels with the quality and effort of my work. It was exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it. I consider myself to be a fairly independent person who doesn’t need constant praise at work to feel pride in my accomplishments, but once in a while, it’s vitally reassuring to be acknowledged by someone whose opinion bears great weight for me.
With that said, knowing that I place this great deal of stress on myself for something non-life-theatening still bothers me.
This is neither my dream job nor my dream field. This is simply a path I’m following until I have the cash saved up to pursue my actual passion. If I was to be fired tomorrow, would I be crushed? Absolutely. But would the impact be severe? In the long run, no. I would either get another paralegal job in the area or go to psychology graduate school earlier than planned and simply have to take out much greater loans than I previously anticipated.
It’s times like these that I relish the fantasy of being my own boss. Some day when I have created my own therapy practice, I won’t have to answer to anyone. I will be responsible for all of my own business decisions and will only have to worry about disappointing myself rather than a boss.
In the meantime, I can hardly wait. Just ten-ish more years, and I will finally be able to turn my dream into reality.