In which I complain about trivial things in order to avoid actual problems

I’m burned out. On work, on travel, on even routine interactions with clients. Where usually I’m a Type A perfectionist, now I’m taking shortcuts and crossing my fingers no one will notice. Some of the best professional advice I’ve received has been something my grandmother used to say, which never made sense until one of my counselors gave it a 21st century update. “A stitch in time saves nine.” Or, doing shit right the first time is actually much faster than rushing through and having to go back and re-do it.

I was supposed to be in Hawaii this week, for work. It was an all-expenses paid trip, with first class travel there and back, and when plans changed and the company sent someone else instead of me, I did a happy dance around my hotel room. My husband said I was crazy, but working in Hawaii is still work, and I’m too overwhelmed to even think about adding something else onto my plate at this point.

One of my clients, to whom I’ve sent hundreds of emails, plus met in person or spoken to on the phone upwards of 50 times, has started responding to my emails “Hi Gary”. It’s so bizarrely¬†infuriating, because in addition to my name being part of my email address, it’s right there in my signature. One email with the wrong name I could chalk up to a simple mistake, but when we’ve gone back and forth all day and they’ve all had the incorrect name? That ish is on purpose. Rather than realizing her antics come from a place of extreme insecurity (my firm has been recommending for several months that her bosses fire her or take away the promotion – and HUGE pay raise – she received last year), I’m letting it get to me. So far I’ve managed to respond to all her emails politely, but it’s only a matter of time before I snap and respond with “Hi Joseph”.

Opening my email has become a terrifying game of “who’s crying the loudest roulette”. I’m so far behind on the work I owe to so many people, my only strategy for dealing with it has been to turn in whatever project is being demanded that day. While easiest in the extremely short run, it prevents me from actually doing the work I’m actually assigned to do, and results in me barely treading water. I had to turn off email notifications on my cell phone, because every time my email beeped I was getting heart palpitations.

And of course I typed all of that because those are the things in my life that are going wrong that I can deal with. I can handle work pressure. I can deal with being overwhelmed at the office. I can tell my overflowing inbox to fuck off.

My husband had a pretty serious health scare this morning, and that I can’t deal with. He’s with me in DC this week, thank God. I can’t type what’s actually going wrong, because that would make it too real. We can’t do anything or know anything until we get him an appointment with the doctor, back in Denver. So I’m going to continue to do what I do best. Act on what is actionable (making the doctor’s appointment) while denying (despite pretty obvious facts) that anything serious is going on.

Apologies for the super gloomy Tuesday morning post, but I needed to clear my head before I phone dive into work and count down the minutes until the doctor’s office opens in a few hours.

3 thoughts on “In which I complain about trivial things in order to avoid actual problems

  1. Trent Lewin

    Dude – I hope things get better. That sounds like a lot of pressure, especially with your husband’s health stuff (I hope he’s okay). Let the work stuff roll – that’s why they call it ‘work’. It’s just a thing. Maybe a trip to Hawaii (non work related) is in order – you sound like you might need a vacation. In fact, I might need one too.

    1. Erin E. Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. We got some great news yesterday from the doctor, so things are much better. I also have a vacation scheduled in two weeks – not Hawaii, but my parents’ beach house in Florida, and so the light at the end of the work tunnel is definitely there!


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