Sunday, September 26, 2004

Boys don't cry (until they grow-up)

Ah, what a week it’s been! I won’t go into all the gory public service details but on Friday after lunch I was handed my second great professional set-back for the year. (See here for my earlier personal and professional betryal).

The short story is that my career is stalled and that promotion is even further off than it appeared to be before last week. I was kinda upset and hoping that no one would come to ask me about what happened because, well, I’m a sensitive young lad.

It had also been a difficult week because the Dude had been down for 5 days with some charming form of gastro: the sluices were open at both ends (a joke I first heard delivered by Monty Python in a skit about Australian wines, written 30 years ago. Let’s see the pommy bastards joke about Australian wine now! (Even if they are mostly drinking Jacob’s Creek.))

That particular Friday I was coming down the Dude’s illness. I spent Friday night shivering under a pile of blankets. So physically I wasn’t in a great state (he said by way of justification for the horror to come…)

So sure enough at about 4:30, Very Senior Guy came to my office to ask how I am. (VSG was not personally involved in this week’s kick in the teeth but was very much involved in the run-up to said blow).

‘Oh, not good.’ I said, and the water works followed. That’s right, sports fans, I blubbed. He got up and shut the door and we talked about ‘my situation’. He was very nice about it without actually really being able to help me one iota.

I apologised for crying but what could I do? As I said, I’m er, sensitive. He claimed to be a big sook himself. Who knows?

I wonder if the world has moved far and fast enough to allow men to cry in from of their bosses at work? Maybe, as long as you don’t see it every week. (This is the first time I swear!) I expect to see a cover of Maxim magazine advertising an article: ‘Blubbing before the Boss: New way to get ahead or career suicide?’

At the end of our little talk, he approached me with one hand outstretched. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to hug me or shake my hand. Being an anglo-saxon, I went for the handshake option, as unlikely as it seemed. He shook my hand and went for the hug as well. I felt kinda uncomfortable (VSG is also gay – I offer apropos of almost nothing, just to muddy the workplace waters further).

This episode got me thinking about two things:

(1) How young I still feel. Even at the grand old age of 33, I still often feel like a child in some ways. I suspect that genuine adulthood will only strike me when I’m bouncing my first grandchild.

(2) How irritated I am at my continual inner-conflict about career progress. Here I am crying at being passed over (in essence) for a promotion I’m really not sure I want. In fact, having acted in the higher position before, I’m don’t really enjoy it.

I don’t really need the money (though everyone can always use more money) and God knows I don’t want the responsibility. So why do I give myself such a hard time about this?

I continually feel that career progress is something I should want. Even if I don’t.

Reflecting on it a lot, I boiled it down to this: Even though I’m dubious about the merit of the race I’m running, this is the race I’m running and I should try to win (or at least be in the front of the pack of) any race I’m in.

This is the attitude that I’m slowly coming to grips with. If you don’t care about the race you’re running then, Dude, don’t run it.

Sure, it sounds simple…

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