Hello, Regression Readers!
So I found myself in a situation today that’s seems like a perfect metaphor for the way I’ve been living my life:
I’ve got a new job making web content and doing social media marketing for a tech startup in my area. It is like, the perfect job for me; lots of creativity and talent go into my work, and the social media stuff is just fun. Plus, I work from home 85% of the time! I’m loving it.
Now, because it’s a startup, there’s a lot of work to be done. And because it’s not my company, I’m not always sure what I’ll be asked to do at any given time. My boss says he wants me to take over content creation and social media outreach, but I’ve only been at the company for a week, and I’m not sure what kind of company persona my boss is going for or where he wants me to focus my efforts. I don’t know enough about social media marketing to feel like I can answer these questions for him, so when I finish my tasks, I rely on him to provide me with my next objective.
Which brings us to 2:30 today, when I had finished everything he had asked me to do and couldn’t get him on the phone.
Just like that, I’m all but paralyzed. There are a dozen things I could do, but which is the right thing to do? What’s most important, the best use of my time? What if I start working on something and then my boss calls and says “F*** that, that’s stupid, you should be doing this, and you would know that if you weren’t such a f***ing idiot!?”
Minutes are passing quickly and I am not working. I feel guilty because I’ve been Facebook messaging with a friend, providing him some feedback on his video game livestream on Twitch.
I log onto Hootsuite, figuring I’ll at least be adding some value to the company with my time. I know I could be doing something more important, but I don’t know what it should be. I retweet something. I follow a few people. My boss is still MIA. I watch a YouTube video from Casey Neistat because my boss recommended him. Now I feel like I’m just wasting time, so I throw out a few social media posts for Sean4Saw.
Eventually my boss texts me back, but it seems like he’s still unavailable for a phone call. I don’t know his schedule and he has a lot of meetings. He provides a little direction via text, and tells me to think about what big content pieces I would like to get out this week. I tell him if we’re going to talk about creative stuff, I’d rather wait until he has 10 minutes for a call.
I continue to poke at social media for ten minutes when he texts me again, still trying to go over creative ideas. At this point I get frustrated, because we can’t plan creatively and collaboratively via text, there’s just too much room for confusion and miscommunication. I need the real-time back-and-forth of conversation to understand the details of his ideas for content and social media outreach, but I’m doing a terrible job of communicating this because I don’t want to seem needy or like I can’t do my job. I really want to keep this one.
But now I’ve reached my tipping point for miscommunication. I pick up my phone and call him.
He answers. He is not in a meeting, though he had been throughout the day. He tells me I should just call him next time when I want to talk. Says he’ll call me back if he can’t answer. Also, when I find myself in that situation, I should do whatever I think is best; he trusts me (yet another innocent victim of my apparent self-confidence and charm).
On some level, I feel like I’ve been living out that situation my entire life. If I know what to do and how to do it, everything is great. S*** gets done and it gets done well. But when it’s done, then what? What’s the next step? I’ve handed in the assignment, what’s next? Somebody tell me. I do stuff, I don’t decide stuff; that’s for authority.
Do I stop at this corner? I’ll let the light decide. Can I smoke in this area? Maybe there’s a sign somewhere. What should I do with my life? Well, my family and guidance counselor agree I would be a good teacher…
F***. It’s like I’m a knight in a game of chess! I wouldn’t say I’m a pawn; I’m definitely not the piece you sacrifice first. I know I’m more valuable on the board than off, but my moves are always decided for me. That’s how it’s always been.
What kind of an approach to life is that!? And what kind of authority do I imagine would be able to make my decisions for me?
Well, there is one authority I can think of, and it’s not my boss…
But that authority is even harder to get in touch with than my boss was today! I try to hear and follow Her instructions, but a lot of the time, I’m just kind of guessing what S/He would have me do. I know Her a little bit, but I wouldn’t presume to claim I could tell you exactly what S/He wants from me, let alone you.
Though I do suspect Her response would be similar to my boss’s: I’m not always going to be able to answer you immediately, but you should be good on your own. You pretty much know what not to do; just do what you think is best. I trust you, and I’ll always answer you in time.
At least, I think that’s how it might be.
Kind of an abrupt ending, but, thanks for reading!