There was a pair of conversations that I had yesterday that really twists my liver. If I were as cool as Aunt B, I'd probably manage to explain them in such a way that the other participant in the conversations comes out looking like a fool and I look all rosy, but frankly, I don't have her talent for adding humor into daily life.
It started innocuously enough. Talking with a co-worker who confessed that at one point, he actually cared about getting stuff done.
Co-Worker: "So I used to feel motivated...."
Me: "Ah," she nods sagely. "Incipient adulthood."
Co-worker: "What? No, see let me explain mid-life crisis to you. What happens to men in their 20s is, they get married, have a family, have to be responsible. But in mid-life, the kids are pretty much out of the house and he finally has money now that he didn't have before the kids. So it makes sense to buy new toys. It's not a crisis at all, he's just reverting to type. The secret is, men never grow up."
Co-worker2: Um, you know, we woman already know that. We already know that men are just very tall boys.
Then later in the day, when I released an alpha version of some jokes about our jobs' incipient demise, I got this email from the same co-worker:
Co-Worker: "Bitter much?"
My immediate response was shame. I was immediately ashamed of my jokes, of my email, of sharing them with others. I collected myself, being paranoid enough never to display such a weakness, and fired back a response.
Me: "No, frustrated actually, but bitterness is funnier."
The second thought after I woke up this morning was "Why shouldn't I be bitter?" (the first was about how adorable my cat was curled up on my feet)
You see, because of the Peter Pan complex Mr. Co-worker espoused, because it is part of our culture as an approved and accepted thing, because people really believe in it, even though it is quite unflattering sometimes to themselves.... because of those things, I started out with more work to do outside of the office than some of my colleagues do.* That's not fair.
On top of that, in order to make things fair IN the office, I have to do the same amount of work - or slightly more - IN the office as any of them. Because of the way employment is built as a system in our society, I don't get to slide on anything because I have responsibilities which my colleagues blow off or assign to another family member. The two areas are separate, and there is a strong sense of "well, just don't do it [the stuff outside of the office] if it bothers you."
So why shouldn't I be a little bitter about a company that I had once given everything I have to give to that has not once in the past 3 years made it worth my while to do so? Why shouldn't I be angry that our culture expects more of me than it does of my colleagues, solely because I have breasts and a vagina and was taught to work first and play later? And why in the gods' names are those traits linked in our society for me to gripe about?
For what it's worth, I AM more frustrated than bitter. I'm frustrated by the realities of the world we live in, I'm frustrated by the fact that the region I love is running dry of available jobs rapidly. I'm frustrated by how difficult the job market is when I know that I have tons of skills. I'm frustrated because, all other things with the company I work for notwithstanding, I remember clearly how long it took me to find that job in the first place. And I can't financially afford to spend that long unemployed again.
And you know, short of making more companies family-friendly, allowing flex time, adjustable schedules, I don't have any answers except for killing the Peter Pan complex.
*To be fair, I've managed to change my expectations a bit, and Kyrie has helped change our household to balance things out - although I'm still responsible for remembering things and planning ahead.