Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing?

I would like to start with a thank you and an apology. My last post was a bit of a descent into self-indulgent whining. After I posted it, I thought about it and realized what a silly little girl I am to be complaining about something as silly as schedules and planning a vacation when I compare myself to what other people are struggling with in this whole trying-to-make-a-baby thing. I mean, all I have to do is read any handful of recent posts on other people's blogs and I feel a little silly. So, I apologize for having a narcissistic, primadonna moment. But I also want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who commented for just getting me amidst my little spiral of feelings. When I started this blog, I wrote a post wondering what the point of blogging is. I think, on Monday, I realized that writing this blog is not just for me to have a chance to document this or to "pretend I'm a writer," but it also freakin' helps me feel better, damnit! So thanks so much ladies, and I apologize for future slips into self-indulgent moments of despair.


On an entirely different note, I wanted to blog about something that a postdoctoral candidate said to me today during an interview. I asked her what she saw as her "growing edge" in her fellowship year, and she responded that she hoped to continue to grow in her ability to "balance compassion and confrontation." I wrote this down because I thought it was a really nice twist of words that encompassed an area in which most of us need to continue to seek balance. I don't think social interactions could exist without one or the other. Can you imagine a world filled only with compassion? Ok, well maybe Pema Chodron can, but to me it just sounds a little bland and maybe a little depressing.

Here's is a world filled only with Compassion.

My boss walks into my office on a Friday afternoon and says, "So, I have been trying to find someone to cover so-and-so's maternity leave and I know that you have been working really hard here and are so stressed and tired all of the time, but I just wanted to offer you the chance to help out. In case, you know, it makes you feel better to be helpful and kind to others."

Me: "Oh wow, thank you so much for noticing my fatigue and stress. I have also noticed that you are looking a little weary from leading our team and managing so many details. You are right, I DO want to help out my colleagues. Thank you so much for the opportunity to work harder to help them out."

My boss smiles compassionately and kindly into my eyes and says, "Thank you" in a meaningful way.*

*This is only slightly dramatized from actual events.

Seriously, I think I need to work a little on confrontation. As an employee, co-worker, supervisor, and therapist, I can sometimes overload on the compassion. I learned it from my Mom. "Always be polite." Well, politeness and compassion without a backbone can turn you into a puddle of goo. Which then could land you on the bottom of someone's shoe.

How about a land of Confrontation?

My boss bursts into my boss and grunts, "Ok, here's the deal. So-and-so is leaving on maternity leave. You're the newest employee here, so you need to pull your weight and work harder so I don't have to."

Me: "Um, excuse me?? I hardly have enough energy to do what I'm already doing. How about YOU step up and help out a little instead of shopping online in your office?"

Her eyes narrow and my office constricts into a coffin-like space. "Shut up and do more work. We're done talking about this."

I guess I'd rather live in Compassionland.

And now, at the end of this post, I am supposed to sum up my ramblings with something insightful. I'm thinking maybe I should leave that to wiser folks than me, like Pema the nun. I guess I'll just say that I like finding moments of wisdom within a normal Tuesday. And I'll drop another thanks to the girl in the suit with the pretty hair who reminding me that I may need to work a little bit more on my backbone.

What about you?


  1. Oh you know, don't worry about the whining. This stuff is such a rollercoaster and sometimes you can't help having a difficult day, even if later you see it as being silly. It's ok. We're here for you. And most probably, we can relate and give you a (virtual) hug, light you a candle or send you some positive thoughts.
    And, compassion vs confrontation. Hard stuff. I see it as "learning to say no", as I am the kind of person who will avoid confrontation, who will always say yes, and sometimes I end up resenting myself for not standing up for myself. It is difficult, but the opposite, becoming the kind of mean, competitive bitch that puts herself in front of everyone no matter who gets hurt is not someone I want to become. Assertivity is difficult...Specially when deep in you you just want to be "nice".

  2. You are totally aloud to say whatever you want on your blog! It's YOURS!!! So rant away... about anything.
    It's fiiiiine.

    Sorry work is such a bugger. It's like that everywhere, I have a feeling...

  3. Thanks you guys for the permission to be whiny :)

    Amanda, I totally agree. I've been working on assertiveness for awhile now. Mostly in a work environment. I'm more assertive in my personal life.

    Ryanne, haha no don't worry she's not really that bad. Those were just dramatized examples of what she would be like in a world of extremes.


Don't just sit there, say something!