Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Gotcha Paradox

Mike and I are very different people. Like everyone else, we have our strengths and our weaknesses. He maintains a BigLaw paycheck, for which I am very grateful, what with my particular weakness being a supreme inability to do so.

I think part of the reason that my sense of self imploded at the old firm was that I couldn't handle feeling as if I was set up for failure time and time again; where meeting ninety-nine completely unrealistic requests with some measure of success means less than nothing when you've met the hundredth with mere sufficiency; where extinguishing a metaphorical fire is overlooked if you're thirty seconds late for a monumentally insignificant conference call. Where the word 'failure' manifested itself in my internal dialogue.

This morning Mike called, exasperated. One partner, long ago cementing her status as a thorn in his side, trapped him in this Gotcha Paradox and he was... angry.


I never got there at Old Firm. Instead, I internalized every slight, real or not, intended or not. I validated every negative implication or imagination by dwelling on them, letting them dwell in me. In doing so, I gave those power. Toward the end, I couldn't look at some of my colleagues, those senior associates and partners who derived some pleasure in putting me in that situation, without wincing at my own incompetence. And so I gave them power.

What I am coming to understand is that whether this was really happening or whether it was all in my mind doesn't really matter, because it's how I
felt, and there's no escaping that once it's taken hold.

But my husband can face this monster day in and day out, the one that bested me in a matter of months, really. And then come home and make me brownies.


Infant Attorney said...

I'm starting to think that I'm not cut out for this either. While I do feel like I'm set up for failure I also feel like everyone around me wants me to fail. Everyone is so nice to my face, but when it comes time to giving anonymous feedback they feel the need to be brutally honest, but don't have the balls to say anything to my face. I'm counting down the days until I can say f-it and find someplace else. Hopefully that happens before they fire me.

Mom said...

I'm sorry you're having a hard time. And I know how frustrating it is to hear "hang in there," so I won't say it, because sometimes high-tailing it out the door is the right decision. Not always, of course, but sometimes.

The upside, if there is one, is that, for me at least, this kind of experience forces you to look inside yourself to figure out what's important and what just doesn't matter to you. That's tough, when you've spent your whole life fulfilling goals some other force set for you.

Let me know if I can help you out somehow.