I had my first-ever annual review today. Not the first one at my current job – the only one I’ve ever had. I’m pretty new to the corporate world, and have just managed to never work at a company that gave reviews (or raises, really). The meeting was a strange experience, but a good one. Without going into too much detail, there’s a structured ranking system where you can qualify as great, good, or needing improvement. I got mostly goods with a couple of greats thrown in. What’s interesting is that the places where I’ve felt like I experienced the most friction all year are the spots where I ended up shining. It’s just another reminder right now that those things that are hardest are the places where we need to keep trying, even if – especially when – it sucks. Elbow grease works. Persistence pays off.
My boss is very fair, and I like that quality in any person who is obviously trying to own it. I think that people often get “fair” confused with “nice,” but they’re not the same thing. Fair calls you out on your bullshit, while helping you recognize your potential. Several of my rankings today were just good, and that was a fair assessment. There are areas where I really struggle. I have a hard time socializing, and have to really force myself to make first contact in social interactions. But I persist, and it’s still hard, but one day maybe I’ll get a great rating where that’s concerned.
Outside of work, I’ve been persisting in another area of my development. In January, I decided to stop drinking for awhile and see how it felt, and if I could figure out how to be social without the so-called “social lubricant.”
In February, I gave myself free rein, and drank on two occasions – sharing a pitcher of beer with friends at a phenomenal pizza joint on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and having some cocktails while watching the Krewe du Vieux parade the weekend before last. The first situation was a perfect decision – beer and pizza out on a lakeside balcony at sunset is always going to be the right choice. The second situation made me feel kind of gross, honestly. I didn’t want to go out in the first place, was having a kind of crappy afternoon, and decided to get myself into a better mood with alcohol. It worked on the front end, but afterwards, I just felt stupid and lonely. I ended up coming home and binge eating a turkey sub and french fries (the purchase of which, coincidentally, set off a chain reaction of bounced transactions that cost me $70 in overdraft fees). Yeah. Not a great experience.
I didn’t drink last weekend during either of the parades in which I participated, and I didn’t miss it at all. Wait, let’s take a moment to clarify – that “at all” isn’t hyperbole. On Saturday, I literally didn’t even consider drinking until just before we had marched the full length of the parade route, and I saw a piña colada cart (and I only wanted that because it sounded cool and refreshing, not because I was craving alcohol). On Sunday, I did decide I’d like to have a beer to go with the delicious fried chicken sandwich I was eating, but as soon as the idea popped into my mind, I was simultaneously over it. It’s like when you can’t decide where you want to go for dinner with your date, and you’re just throwing out types of cuisine so that they can parry: “Italian?” “Nah.” “Ethiopian?” “Had that last week.” “Tacos?” “Every Tuesday does not need to be Taco Tuesday!” I was like, “Oooh, what about a cold beer?” “Meh.” “Oh, OK. Cool cool. I’ll grab some water.”
Anyway, that’s my story of how not drinking helps me talk to myself.
That was supposed to be a joke, but at some level, it’s true, right? All this being said, I don’t have a plan for this coming weekend, through Mardi Gras. A good friend will be in town, so we will probably hang out, and there may or may not be drinks involved. Right now, I’m not interested in wasting the money, smelling gross in the morning, or feeling fuzzy, queasy, and bloated for days as my body burns off all of that poison. But we’ll see what happens. I tend to make the worst decisions when I’m feeling trapped and powerless, so this weekend I’m going to give myself the ability to say yes and no to whatever I’d like, sans guilt. This is just another aspect of being persistent, overall. No force required – just motion in the same direction for a sustained period of time. Ultreia.