Time Trials

I’m happy to report I’ve found additional work. Less happily, two months in, I’m hearing something I’ve heard too many times before: “Less depth, more speed.”
animated clock face with spinning hands
I’ll bet this is something HSP/introverts hear a lot.

I was hoping to avoid that in this job, as I’ve previously worked with my new boss, and he praised my detail-orientedness. But that was when someone else was paying for my time, and more importantly, my thoroughness – or not – had no impact on his workload.

The thing is, I can’t work more superficially. Engagement doesn’t have a volume dial for me. It’s either on or off. If I care at all about the work (which is essential), I have to give it my full attention. That’s the only kind of attention I’ve got.

Engagement isn’t the only issue. I’m also facing an expectation that I be ramped up and taking on more tasks by now. I’ve heard that one before, too, most recently in a job that ultimately proved to be so hostile that it took two years to recover from it. I’m trying to remain calm, reminding myself that I’ve known my new employer for years, and he is not that boss-from-hell by any stretch of the imagination.

graphic of an atom showing particles traveling in circular path around a central coreThe stressors in my life extend beyond the job itself. My weekly work hours have tripled, and that’s a major adjustment. I’m somewhat organized, but I need to do new work for awhile before the patterns and structures that will work best start to emerge. Since everything else has to be reorganized around those structures, it’s all up in the air. My most renewing leisure time activities have been back-burnered for weeks, though I’m beginning to reclaim some of them in a small way. Last but not least, I’m still not making enough money. I can’t imagine taking on more hours. Yet somehow, I must.

So it’s no surprise issues came to a head last week, with my new boss and I both feeling frustrated and unheard. I was filled with a sinking feeling that somehow, despite all my efforts to choose employment where being myself was an asset, I was right back where I always seemed to end up.

Amazingly, we came out of that to a more positive dynamic.

man working frantically at a desk in a canoe at the edge of a waterfallA few things made a difference. Knowing who I was dealing with was huge. He’s been wrestling with deadlines for the past couple of weeks, scrambling at the last minute, and blaming me for not doing more. However, in the past he’s been one of the most collaborative, supportive people I have ever worked with, so he must be really swamped with other work to be behaving this way, even if it doesn’t occur to him to mention that. If I didn’t have that history with him, I might’ve thought Mr. Nice Guy was showing his true, not-so-nice colors.

Having heard from so many other HSPs and introverts over the past year also made a big difference. I doubt I’m taking a lot longer than average to settle in, but even if I am, I know I’m not the only one, and that the result will be a better-than-average understanding. This gave me the confidence to point out that he didn’t really have much perspective on what it was like to be unacquainted with the complex organization he’s been growing with for more than a decade, or even on what it’s like to have a new job.

There were other things I could’ve said. He seems to have planned the implementation of major changes the moment I was onboard. One of my central responsibilities (which involves regular deadlines) has been morphing on an almost weekly basis while I was trying to learn it. Hey dude, quit moving the goalposts if you want me to catch up!

artist's paint paletteAlso, a lot of the time I’ve put in has been mental and creative. I’ve come up with some pretty good ideas that no one else had thought of. Where outcomes weren’t quite what either of us had in mind, I’ve proactively and immediately applied different ways to deal with that task, without being asked. I thought he appreciated that kind of thing, and understood that it takes time. Come to think of it, I’m a little disappointed in him.

But I’m saving all of that that for another conversation, because I suspect there will be at least one more. He wants to be fair, but he’s also feeling pressured himself, and I don’t think he’s entirely conscious of that conflict. This is where being older helps. I understand that this is a matter of his personal evolution, which is not really about me, and which he will figure out in his own time. I hope.

The irony is, I’m just hitting my stride, which typically happens right about now, 2-3 months into a new job. It’s too bad Mr. Nice Guy couldn’t wait a couple of weeks longer. It would’ve been better for both of us if I’d taken on more responsibility on my own, instead of under pressure from him.

I would love to hear from other introverts, HSP or not, about their own trajectory with a new job, and with time in general. Raise your hand if you’re in favor of a 30-hour day…

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