A rant about frustration
And an unexpected insight into what it could feel like to be powerless
I’m usually a very patient person. I always try to look at situations from the other person’s point of view. Walk in their shoes, blah, blah, blah.
Some people say it makes me appear wishy-washy, too soft, too accommodating, and weak. Maybe it does, but it is part of my personality, definitely a result of my birth order. Remember, I’m a middle child. I’m a peacemaker and want everyone to get along.
But today I hit my boiling point. I just spent the last several hours doing work that a co-worker was responsible for. It is Sunday, and I would much rather be doing <insert here anything you would rather be doing on a Sunday, including laundry, which I hate doing, especially because of the socks that disappear in the dryer>.
I know what you are thinking, Marji; why did you do that? If you do someone else’s work today, you will be covering for them tomorrow, next week, and even next year. Reader, I know that you are right, but we were on a deadline, and if I didn’t do the work today, it wouldn’t be ready for tomorrow, and the team needs it for a client pitch. I love my job (most of the time), and I want everyone I work with to get my best.
Do the right thing
My parents taught me to be fair and to be a team player. They both lived their lives with integrity. Expect the best from people in your life, and you will get that in return. And if you don’t — then move on. Control what you can. Accept what you can’t control and go on to your next challenge.
But what if you don’t have control and you can’t move on? How do you handle it? I’m so angry right now that I have started picking at my fingers again. For those of you who know me personally, you know I tend to keep things inside. When it gets really bad, I take out my anger on my poor cuticles. Is that TMI (too much info) for a blog? I guess I will find out if you unsubscribe.
I can’t remedy the situation. Do I just walk away?
So the work is done. Sure I wasted hours on my Sunday, but the deliverable is better than it would have been otherwise. The team will be ready for the pitch, and all will be well.
But is it?
I feel like I have been taken advantage of, and there is no recourse. No outlet to voice my frustration. I hate writing these words — but I’m mad because it just isn’t fair.
My rant is focused on an unjust situation with a work associate. I’m boiling over mad about it, and I have no outlet to diffuse my anger. But let’s be honest. I’m an educated white American woman who enjoys endless privilege. I’m lucky to work in a job that I enjoy, and with people I respect. Do I really have a right to complain about work frustration?
This is not life and death. I have the benefit of a warm home, a job, my health, and you, my dear readers. So why do I feel so impassioned? Why are my cuticles bleeding?
It is pretty simple. The situation isn’t fair.
Without going all political, every day, millions of people are treated in unfair ways, and they don’t have a voice or a way to diffuse their anger. Up until now, however, I have intellectualized their frustration. I’d nod my head with sympathy at the TV reporter. Make a donation to the cause. Read a few articles about the topic. Suggest a book on the subject to my book club.
I did not suffer their red-in-the-face, heart-beat-racing, clenched-fists anger. I did not feel their end-of-the-rope frustration. Immigrants, women, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color - this list goes on. I was using my head to comprehend their plight. Not my heart to suffer their despair.
So what is the lesson?
Reflecting on my personal anger has given me a glimpse of what it could feel like for them.
The next time I don’t understand why someone is so mad at me because I didn’t use their proper pronouns, mistakenly called Indigenous People’s Day Columbus Day, or I didn’t show up for a woman’s march, I need to remember how it felt to be me on that Sunday when I realized how to use my heart instead of my brain to understand the pain of being powerless.
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What a frustrating experience that unfortunately is so relatable. Very well said Marji - and I so appreciate how you ended with your take-always vs. just a rant. You are a lovely human! I miss working with you.
Always helpful to step into someone else’s moccasins once in a while. My current favorite writer , Yossi Klein HaLevi, does that frequently in the books he writes about life in Israel and Palestine. I think it’s why I find his writing so compelling...