Thursday, June 30, 2011


I am such a neurotic mess. My last job did such a freaking doozy on my at-work confidence that I am a serious ball of anxiety for the days leading up to any meeting with my boss. I had my annual review today, and despite not having had any flat-out bad meetings with the boss in the last year, I have been stressed about it since Monday.

Last night at our friends’ going-away party, I knocked over three different drinks because I was so tense and clumsy. Three delicious homebrewed beers were lost to this damn review. It was criminal. Then, of course, I had a hard time falling asleep (no joke, at the old job I started having to take Nyquil to fall asleep the night before a meeting with the Horrible Boss. Then I started taking a combo antidepressant/antianxiety pill, and it turns out that was a much better idea.), so I made Andy snuggle me extra-well and play with my hair, which I’ve found soothing since I was a baby. (Please note that “play with” here means “run his fingers through it repeatedly,” not “french-braid it and add ribbons” or some such shit.)

This morning, I made Andy take care of the garbage (we take it over to his parents’ house five minutes away instead of paying for pickup, because we’re cheap), even though I usually handle it, hollered at the dogs who were being their usual doggish selves, and knocked my knuckles really hard against a wall by being clumsy again. In the two and a half hours I had at work before my meeting, I did the following things:
·         Tried to meditate at my desk while the woman who sits in the cubicle next to mine ate Cracker Jack with her mouth open.
·         Listened to “No Woman, No Cry” on my reggae Pandora station and imagined that the Wailers were telling me, specifically, that everything gonna be alright.
·         Read the Stuart Smalley Wikipedia page and reminded myself that I, too, was good enough, and smart enough, and that doggone it, people like me to.
·         Repeated “competent and confident” as a sort of mantra to myself every time my heart started to pound. (I started doing this when things were at their worst at the old job, and can’t say whether or not it does a damn thing. It’s just sort of a habit now.)
·         Reviewed my notes to myself about why I deserved a bigger raise this year than I got last year for the seventeenth time this week.
·         Reminded myself that I haven’t gotten any negative feedback from my boss since January, when she suggested double-checking a few small things, but that the mistakes I had made were typically the sort that got caught before the work went out to customers, so, you know, not that big a deal. Still felt panicked.
·         Played the “What’s the worst that could happen?” game, which some therapists suggest as a way to come to grips with the idea that you can live through a bad situation. It went like this: “Okay, the worst that could happen is that I don’t get the raise. No, the worst is that she’ll tell me that I’m terrible at my job and that they’re firing me. Okay, so getting fired is the worst that could happen. So what? So what if I get fired? What’s the worst that could happen? IN THIS ECONOMY? I’d lose my house! We’d have to move in with my parents! I have an ENGLISH DEGREE, I’d never find another job!” So I guess you could say it backfired.
·         Pretended that I was as confident as some of my idiot coworkers, who make bizarre mistakes and never hit their numbers but still walk around like they own the joint.
·         Noted with dismay that my hands were trembling like crazy.

So then I had the actual meeting, and, no exaggeration, my boss didn’t have a single piece of criticism. I have made way more money for the company in the last year than anyone else in my department, and at first she thought that would mean that if I were working that much more quickly than other editors, I’d likely be making more mistakes, but that hasn’t been the case. We went over the stupid self-evaluation form I had to submit, and she agreed with all of my answers, commended me on an idea I had to make the company look better to our customers, and told me she already had some other (more advanced/I’m the only one working on them) projects in mind for me. Then she told me the average raise at our company this year was about 2.5%, but that she had requested (from her boss, our division manager, or whatever, I’m not up on my corporate lingo) that they give me a 9% raise. I had planned to ask for 10.5%, but reassessed – by which I mean, I pussied out – and happily took the 9%.

I texted Andy that the review went fine and the info about the raise, and he texted back, “See? You are as great as everyone tells you you are!” which naturally made me tear up at my desk (not hard, as I was still shaking like a leaf) and suggested we get sushi tonight to celebrate.

I must be freaking tiresome to deal with around these things every year. My husband has the patience of a goddamn saint.

P.S. Is it bad form to share the percentage of the raise? I seriously hate evasive language like "I was going to ask for a healthy raise, but they offered me a pretty great one, so I took it, even though it wasn't as good as the healthy one, because everyone else is apparently getting a low-but-kind-of-standard raise..." It's so much more work that way! If anyone in HR reads this, let me know if your company would want me to take any of this shit out. I'M STILL PARANOID ABOUT GETTING FIRED OH MY GOD I'M A FUCKING MESS.


  1. The more I read you, the more I see me.

    Congrats on the raise!

    And any asshole who suggests people with anxiety play "worst case scenario" really needs their license revoked.

  2. Wow! Congrats. At my last job, the raises were so small they didn't even give it to me as a percentage. "We're giving you an extra $600 a year!" they'd say. As if their enthusiasm alone would pay my mortgage. :)

    Seriously, congrats. Now try to get some sleep.

  3. I have never, ever gotten a merit raise before, and I've had a job since I was sixteen. So this was a pretty cool thing. Thanks a whole lot for the encouragement - it's neat to be able to pour myself out onto the internet and have people be nice about it! You guys are great!