Lose the battle but win the war

Yet again, I’ve set myself too many resolutions this year, and at least one has slipped. I try to trick myself by telling myself they’re not resolutions, they’re just plans for staying on top of things. But the thing about tricking yourself is that you always know you are! So here I am, the last Sunday of the month, writing my first blog post when I’d promised myself I’d at least write every Sunday (in at least one of my blogs). But better late than never, I suppose!

My other plans have been going pretty well – I decided to do a bit of housework every day so that by the time I hit Saturday I don’t do it all in one go, in a foul mood because it’s eating up my precious non-work hours. It’s worked out so far, and it’s definitely helped with my stress levels. Not having piles of dirty dishes to deal with, or bits of mess lying around helps me keep my head clean as well as the general household.

Work started out well for the first week and a half, and then everyone else came back from holidays and it very quickly ramped back up into the chaos and tension of the last part of last year. I could feel the old anxiety and overwhelming workload rushing back, so I spoke to my manager again and he’s assured me he’s locked in a date for me to come off one of my projects. Fingers crossed it actually happens, as I can’t keep this up long this year – last year burned me out and I haven’t got my stamina back yet.

Both projects are pretty full of conflict these days, which is my Achilles heel – I’m an INFJ on the MBTI scale, and the part about us loving harmony really rings true for me. But I’m pretty proud of myself this week – I had 2 confrontations that I found quite  scary, but they involved me sticking up for people under my leadership so I did it without batting an eyelid (just walked away afterwards wondering how I’d managed it!). The result is that out of one confrontation I ensured one of my team members gets the long weekend she definitely deserves (and desperately needs!), as well as being able to still attend the training she was due to go to this coming week. I was horrified when my project managers tried to argue she shouldn’t attend because it ‘wasn’t relevant to the project at this time, or to her immediate future’. What the? You’re going to stop someone’s professional development and stunt their career because you want her to stick around doing your dirty work for a couple of days? I don’t think so. I think if they hadn’t lead with that, I probably wouldn’t have been so insistent in the subsequent conversation, but that just disgusted me so I was all fired up with righteous anger. I was very polite, but very firm about why she should not be held back. It still gets me all riled up now just thinking about it!

I’m also helping  out with a women’s mentoring program this year. I participated in it last year as a mentee, and wanted to give back to the people who helped me gain focus on my career and strengthen my confidence – I doubt I would have handled the situations this week as well as I did if I hadn’t had a year of talking through how to handle myself in the workplace and learning about how women are treated (both through experiencing it myself and reading about it). I had to bite down my feminist rage last week and remind myself that I can’t win every battle but I can win the war – I have been trying to put in place a strategy on one project that would mean a large chunk of the problems we’ve been having would be solved. No one would listen to me until a male member of my team proposed it as well. Ooh, that got me mad. But I decided to just let it slide and be glad that my strategy was finally in place. And then surprisingly this week, my (male, dominant) project manager is treating me more like an equal, and gave me full credit for the strategy  (which I quickly shared with my team, because while it was my idea originally, they all helped with the final strategic plan). So I’m one step closer to breaking the boys’ club mentality. It’s so tough and incredibly frustrating sometimes though – I like to think the problem isn’t there, but from time to time it really rubs your nose in it.

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Getting there…

I had a good day today. It was still busy and stressful, but I had a feeling of keeping my head above water occasionally, rather than drowning in everything. I still had a lot of the day where I felt under the water, but those few moments of control and clarity really went a long way to putting me in a good mood. I figure if I can get glimpses of that, at some point there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel and I’ll find my rhythm with this leadership stuff, it will feel normal at last!

Missing – my sanity…

Life has been pretty crazy lately. We’re pretty close to being done  with the renovations now, thank goodness. We moved in a few weeks ago, so it’s slowed down a little while we unpack and breathe after 2  months of intensity. I am starting to worry we’ll fall into the trap so many folk have fallen into before though – move in, and then never quite get around to painting that door, fixing that handle etc. So tomorrow we’re determined to get the paint out again and get things moving along again.

Work has been pretty nuts as well. I got a promotion a  couple of months ago, which meant I was getting paid at the level I was already working, so that was great. But somehow since then the level of expectations of me have risen again and I’m so insanely busy. The main problem for me is that I’m an introvert (like 100% on the MBTI scale) and my role now puts me in meetings ALL DAY. As in, I have to excuse myself from meetings to go to the toilet, and have had to block time in my calendar to make sure I get a lunch break, as there were days when that just didn’t happen.

As a result, I’ve been feeling pretty wrecked. Poor Simon’s been patiently suffering through my short tempers and listlessness in the evenings and on weekends. I don’t like being that way though. He has his own stresses at work, so I do support him with that, but I feel like I’m not myself lately. I hope other introverts out there will understand what I mean when I say I feel like I’m having to be someone else for too many people – everyone has an expectation of me, and I don’t like letting people down, so I’m working against my own personality a lot of the time to get by and succeed. Which leads to me getting grumpy,  because I feel like I never get to do/be what I want to do/be. Healthy.

I’m not entirely sure how to get my equilibrium back. [Side note- Simon just came in and read this over my shoulder, rubbed my back and told me I need to take a valium, haha]. I have a public holiday coming up, and Simon’s working that day, so I’m looking forward to having a day to myself with no people. I feel like I just never get that anymore, and that’s what I need to keep me sane. I’ve tried to block out some other days off in the next couple of months too. My projects at work are insane so I can’t really take multiple days off at a time, but I have about a week of time in lieu accrued due to doing ridiculous overtime last month, so I’m going to take a couple of Fridays off and give myself some long weekends. Even if the weekends end up having people in them, if I can get a Friday with no one, maybe I can claw my way back to normal.

Any introverts out there with tips on how to get some energy back when you can’t escape being around people all day?