Fine lines at midnight

Wednesday marked the second or third time I’ve come home crying or upset from work. It hadn’t occurred to me to consider quitting my job until Sem mentioned that I shouldn’t be crying over a part-time cleaning position that should mean little to me, especially since it’s been roughly 11 weeks, and I really don’t need it. If anything, once I’ve indulged in a cry baby session, I forget about it. And everyone knows I’m the person where if something is bothering me, the last thing I’ll do is forget.

I never forget.

But now I’ve been thinking about proportions. The past 11 weeks, I’ve been unknowingly mentally and emotionally slaving away at trying to be the best employee I can be for this hotel. I primarily took this job as a learning experience. I want to know how to handle balancing work, school, and relationships. I want to know what it feels like to have a consistent paycheck that lasts longer than a summer. I want to know how I work with others in an unfamiliar environment. I want to know what parts of me make me a good employee, and what parts could be a possible hindrance. I want to know what it’s like to work in a country that’s not the US. To save up for post-graduation life on my own. The list goes on and on. But now that I’m thinking about proportions, I’m wondering if I’ve learned everything I can with this business, or if it simply isn’t worth it to keep fighting. Time for a cost-benefit analysis.

I realize that the reason why I’ve come home upset from work is because I’m taking criticism personally. Perhaps it’s constructive and I’m misinterpreting it. Perhaps it’s constructive and my boss isn’t doing a good job in accurately conveying it. Or perhaps it really is a personal attack on my being. Whichever way is right, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve become a little beaten down, and feel a little bit more insecure. I’ve noticed that in my conversations with friends I’ve been adding more disclaimers and clarifying words to what I’m saying so as to lower the possibility for miscommunication or upsettness. Sem, Marrit, and Emma of all people know what I mean without me saying every other sentence “I don’t mean to come off like this…” And I’ve noticed that I’ve become more paranoid and sensitive to overanalyzing every possibility in which I could perform a misstep and correct it before I even put one foot forward. The irony is that it seems that when I try to do the “right” thing, I’ve gotten discouraged for it.

I’ve boiled down my dilemma to this: am I willing to change my behavior and unintentional ways of doing things in order to make my superiors happy? It’s come to my understanding that this hotel expects me to be quiet, demure, obedient, and unquestioning. It’s not my job to talk to guests. Don’t talk too loudly in the lobby. Always greet coworkers before asking something. Don’t ramble or justify yourself. You’re too busy and high energy. You talk too much. What do you mean know one has ever told you this about yourself? How do you not know? Tone it down. By God I feel like a loud, rude, obnoxious problem that doesn’t do anything but frustrate my superiors when I’m trying so hard to do the exact opposite. The only praise I’ve gotten was a side comment about how I’m a hard worker. Since my first round of criticism I have talked less and smiled less. But now the second one has come and gone and I don’t think she’s noticed that I have “toned it down”. I know you’re friendly and enthusiastic, maybe it’s an American thing: keep it to yourself. Talk about a freezer burn.

Maybe I should find a job or a business that wants overly friendly and enthusiastic people. Maybe I’m not meant for detailed and meticulous work. Maybe I’m not cold, pretentious, and chic. Or maybe my stubbornness and dislike for rigidity and monotony is being tested, and I need to learn to bend to other’s wills more. Can I change my personality for work? Will I change my personality for work? How much would it cost me? Is it worth it?

In my relationships I’ve long established that if you don’t like me for who I am, or what I stand for, that’s ok. We can be amicable, but certainly not friends. I don’t like everyone in this world, and I don’t expect everyone to like me. I’ll go to great lengths to please others, but asking me to change my way of being is unacceptable, and quite frankly the easiest way to hurt my feelings and induce a grudge holding attitude. That being said, I relish the opportunity for self-improvement. But there is a difference between self-improvement and being something you’re not. And I’m not sure which of these my boss is asking for or to what extent.

Should I stay because I need to deal with challenges and learn to navigate the complications of “the real world” with grace and perspective? Or should I go because some jobs just aren’t a good match, and why torture myself unnecessarily?

If anything, this job has already taught me a lot about myself. It’s taught me that I’m a general person. Detail kills me. It’s taught me that I can be stubborn as hell. And it’s taught me that I have a curious relationship to authority and power imbalances. Namely that I despise being ordered around. You don’t tell me what to do, I allow you to. My issue with authority is my biggest concern right now, and I’m not sure how to mediate it. But that’s a different story for a different time.

I think I’ll carry this out until the end of the semester. And over winter break, right about when I’m due for a quarter-life crisis, I’ll make a final decision.

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