My tiny job

I am sipping a cool glass of Rose, trying to calm my fear. I’ve been struggling with anxiety for the past few days, and sometimes I win, and sometimes, like this evening after work, I lose.

Things were actually going well today. I’d had a good day yesterday, and was feeling relaxed. Conflict with my boss has quieted right down for the moment – we seem to be on good terms. She speaks to me calmly, and I am eager to please. She isn’t rubbing me the wrong way for the first time in four months. I had little to do at work, which I don’t like, so lots of time to kill. But my good mood let me coast through this.

By the end of the day, a few things had happened which caused my mood to plunge and decide I have a really really stupid job. Then I felt ashamed, that at my age, this is the best I’ve been able to do. This stupid worthless job. Sigh.

Editing can be different things. It can be an engagement with a document, trying to understand what the writer is trying to do, engaging with the writer, and making it clearer, untangling confusion, organizing logically.

Or it can be silly. Formatting to a set standard. Enforcing meaningless rules with no engagement with the meaning at all. A lot of corporate ‘writing’ is of this kind – the real work happens first, and I put in some commas and bolded headings, and call it a day.

If an organization wants the second kind of ‘editing’, and i provide the first, they get unhappy and cranky. I am then interfering where I am not wanted. They want me to tidy up, not take any time to do so, and not take up anyone else’s time.

Anyway, it seems this department is looking for the second kind of editor. But…what actually happened was not much. I’m just primed to fall into anxiety and shame. One document I’d worked on has come back from the big boss, and one of her comments was the editing lacked consistency. I’m not sure what she’s looking for to tell the truth. I checked with the writer, who gave me a really hostile look, and said she’d let me know when I could have the document. Why so hostile? Who knows. I suspect she resents the difficult hour we spent together, where I was trying to get clear on what she was trying to do. But maybe not.

I’d asked if one of the directors had feedback on the editing, and he wrote a careful email back that basically said he wanted spellcheck and formatting. Wow. I’d put so much other work into his documents, but it looks like that’s not what he wants.

Then another analyst there asked my help with a table, and he said they’re not sending that document to me at all, even though all are supposed to come to me. Which I mind read to mean that they want to bypass the ‘difficulties’ I cause with editing.

Then my co-worker was unfriendly in the morning. As per usual.

Then in another document, a term that is not a proper noun was capitalized all the way through, and it turned out the big boss had asked for this. I hate the practice of capitalizing some words the bank feels are important. It’s so old fashioned, and makes documents harder to read.

And it made me feel hopeless. That I’m working on documents that are bureaucratic, where all that matters is that they look exactly like all the other documents of the past, where the value I add is cosmetic only.

It doesn’t seem as if that should set me off into a tailspin. All these little little things. I end up feeling totally without value.

I am whining. I do feel I need to find a different job. Not because of the inept manager at this moment. It’s just a crappy job. I’d need hope though that not all jobs are crappy.

I want to write about yesterday’s extended family barbecue, which I’ll do next post. Maybe the feelings of worthlessness are related to seeing my family, though the occasion went pretty well.



  1. leb105 said:

    Hi E, glad to see a post from you. I feel as if I really understand what you’re going through here, and I feel as if I’m in the same place – trying to understand why my mood changes, what happens to my energy. I want to demonstrate my value and I’m super-sensitive to perceived slights. It looks like they want to put you in a box where you’re prevented from demonstrating your value, they want to tie your hands, use you for a fraction of what you can offer. And the painful sense that you’re isolated, and that they’re in league against you, around you, tip-toeing around whatever difficulties you imagine that you present.
    You can see how you wanted to be loved and valued by your family, just for being you – and how they just couldn’t see or appreciateYOU. I think if we could value ourselves and what we can do, then we wouldn’t get depressed when others want something less or different. It wouldn’t feel like WE were being diminished, and cut down to fit.

    • Ellen said:

      Oh definitely – if we could value ourselves, our self-worth wouldn’t be tied to much anyone else thought or said. I’m not there yet. 🙂

      Yes, this is what goes through my mind. I’m sorry you can relate so well. It’s this mixture of the somewhat real, stuff that really is happening, mixed with my own mind and my own past and issues, that’s confusing. It really does echo my family’s insistence that I just didn’t measure up.

      Thank you

      • leb105 said:

        🙂 hugs – tomorrow is a new day.

        • leb105 said:

          whoops – that might have been Attachment Avoidant, I think. (Howard and I are looking at the Leaving Loneliness workbook that you found!) I felt effective and valued right there, and took my reward and backed off.
          I realized that it was comforting to know that you were struggling with the same misery yesterday, and thank YOU for enumerating the main features of it. I also have shame around not accomplishing enough in life – we were just discussing that, in my session. Whose yardstick is that?

          • Ellen said:

            Amazing you are working through that book – I’ve basically forgotten it at this point, unfortunately. So that’s attachment avoidance? I do that — if someone values me, I become afraid of them and disappear….

            The shame for lack of accomplishment comes right straight from my family – they were completely focused on academic achievement. But society also values ‘getting somewhere’….isn’t it kind of natural to want to achieve something? But not everyone can.


  2. I know that it has been important for me to feel that I have somehow made a difference in the position that I was in. I brought something important to it that not everybody could and it mattered that I had been there. I can imagine that doing the more holistic type of editing feels like you bring something as an individual to it, while the more mechanistic type seems like the sort that would leave me feeling that almost anyone could do the job.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, that’s just how I feel also. Who wants to be a widget in a huge machine? Thanks Cat

  3. EJ said:

    Hi, I was an editor for many years, and I can totally sympathise with where you’re at. I’ve had some really fulfilling editing work… and then I’ve had positions like the one you’ve described: proofreading, formatting, and endless ‘file management’. This is not editing. It’s deeply disheartening, and you’re capable of so much more. (Easier said than done though, I know. The job market is really tough right now in my part of the world.)

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting. That’s exactly it. Thanks EJ. Nice to meet you!

  4. Grainne said:

    There nothing so demotivating than being scolded for doing too good a job. I hear you loud and clear. 😦

    • Ellen said:

      😦 It does suck. Thanks Grainne

  5. leb105 said:

    Another thought – maybe this, here, and in therapy – is your real work at the moment. Your paying job is like waiting tables – get the orders right, and smile – it pays the bills. It’s not who you are or what you’re capable of, and it provides useful grist for the mill. 😉
    Maybe that’s what it would look like, anyways, if we weren’t ‘looking for love, in all the wrong places’.

    • Ellen said:

      Absolutely – my paying job is to pay the rent basically. I always know that. It’s disheartening though, because doing it uses up most of my energy, and most time off is recovery time, so there’s not a lot left over for ‘real life’.

      Your ‘looking for love’ comment is spot on. Must get thicker skin!


  6. That’s hard. They advertised for a writer, but actually they want an administrative assistant. I can understand it would feel really hopeless. Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it does seem like more of an admin assistant job. Companies seem to want their hires overqualified. Today was a bit better again, so I feel better. Thanks Ash.

  7. e.Nice said:

    I am sorry Ellen. Most jobs are crappy I think, but there is usually some compensation (and not just the money) that keeps us showing up. I don’t think you are whining. I think the feelings are valid.

  8. Hi Ellen. I’m sorry thing have been so crappy at the job. I know how hard you have been trying to really make things work there, too– ever since you were hired. It’s also really crazy making when our current lives mirror our past traumas even if only in small ways. It can really muddle things up, be very frustrating, and feel really out of control. At least to me, anyway.

    PS–Rose is my new favorite wine. I used to be a white wine girl, but roses are so yummy🙂 I hope you are able to drink a chilled glass of wine, read a good book and relax this weekend. You deserve those moments of self care and peace. Xx

    • Ellen said:

      That really truly muddles things doesn’t it? I am feeling better about the job tonight…..

      I love Rose in the summer, but only if it’s dry. I actually like all colours of wine….Hope you also can relax this weekend. Thanks

  9. Your job sounds aggravating. It seems like there is a need for a more thoughtful type of editing but tradition and small-mindedness don’t allow you to do what would actually be helpful.

    I do a lot of technical writing for my job, and I’m pretty good at it most of the time. I like to make things concise and tight and as concrete as possible. Sometimes I get the chance to read and comment on colleagues’ work, and some like me to suggest changes but others act as if I came in their house and peed on their antique Persian rug. They don’t want anything altered, no matter how much jargon and passive voice and hanging participles interfere with meaning.

    Clear writing is a gift to the reader. I hope a few of your colleagues realize that and appreciate your help in making their work better.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting you also do some editing Q. “others act as if I came in their house and peed on their antique Persian rug” – lol. That is so true. People’s words are precious to them, and in a way, I do understand that.

      I’ve basically given up on doing much more than formatting. The thing with my job is, I’m not an expert. I too work with bright people, but I’m not considered one of them. It’s a very technical field, and so, it’s pretty hard to edit their work anyway, and I can see their point, that I really don’t know what’s going on. It’s true. It’s like editing a foreign language. I’d need to discuss a lot with the writers in order to understand, and that is not in the culture there.

      I really want to quit today. I’ll leave it at that. Thanks for your insights.

      • I can sympathize with the wanting to quit. I know that feeling. In fact, I know it so well that I gave notice! I just have to hang in there until September 1. If you really were to quit, what kind of options are available to you?

        • Ellen said:

          I am jealous.

          I actually don’t need to quit as this is contract to perm. I’ll just wait out my contract, which expires mid-october, and if they offer me the job, I’ll decline. I think I can fairly easily get more contracts….I did want the stability of full-time, but not at this price. Cheers

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