To people who ‘know better than me’ and suck all the fun out of the Upcoming Things

Look,

I’m picking up on probably 3/10 responses when I talk of my future plans, but it is human nature to more easily remember the negatives, and you 3/10ths are being negative as fuck.

I already know that PhD research topics change over the course of 3 years. I already know what I start out thinking is not what I’ll end up thinking. I already know it’s going to be a lot of work, and that managing everything will be a lot sometimes. I already know that it falls to me and me alone to get this shit done and over the finish line. I have literally been surrounded by friends who are doing or have done PhDs for years now, and as much as I can, I know what I’m in for.

I’ve also (obviously) decided, despite knowing all of this and more, to grab this opportunity. To do something like this (I believe) a person needs a solid lump of determination (read: sheer bloodymindedness) on their side. This means I have plans for what I want my career to look like and how I plan to get a job afterwards and all those things you’re quizzing me on. I’m well aware things can change – 5 years ago I said I’d never do a PhD, so believe me, I got it.

I guess what I’m saying here is: don’t feel morally obligated to give me a ‘sense of reality’ just yet mate, I haven’t even started the fucking thing. Let’s just let me get fired up about it for a hot minute first, huh?

To the women who undercut themselves constantly (pretending for a minute that I am not a woman who also undercuts herself constantly)

Hey there friends,

You’re driving me nuts here, you beautiful tropical fish. Don’t you know how amazing you are? How strong, how glorious, how great? I can see it from many miles away, how are you having trouble clocking this from up close?

Have you even met you? Don’t you even know?

You’re being just so great at caring about important things, at posting solid content on the interwebs, at sharing sassy awesome selfies to show off fantastic haircuts and bold lipstick choices, at making really good work lunches (even if sometimes you forget them and have to get sweet potato fries instead), at standing up for your co-workers in meetings, at offering solidarity for the shitty experiences of strangers. The awesomeness and the empathy is real.

You’d be there to lift up a friend; to talk them out of feeling glum or insignificant or incapable, but here you are, not believing in yourself; undercutting or diminishing your awesome work or your greatest self or a thing you did once. Not always, not every woman, not even only women. But stop it though. You did good, you’re important, we like you, we see you. We celebrate you.

Less invisible labour. Less quiet achievement. More boasting. More cheer squads.

Set an example, and then stand back and watch it catch fire (the good fire; the best fire).

You’re the best and I love you.

 

To people who don’t give other people a seat at the table

I’m not sure exactly which awesome feminist introduced me to the concept of ‘a seat at the table’ but I’m totally down with it. Sometimes the seat at the table is metaphorical – it’s about letting someone be heard who might not normally contribute to conversations of varying degrees of importance. It’s about collaborating instead of reinforcing hierarchies that deny voices because they are perceived to be lower down the food chain and therefore less important.

Sometimes the seat at the table is an actual seat, and it means the person offered the seat is able to be part of conversations where decisions that affect them get made, that the person is able to hear the thoughts of others around these decisions and observe the making of them in that circular way humans have. Being a part of a conversation is, obviously, the best case scenario – many a time, the person offered the seat may find themselves rendered mute by the importance of the other players. That’s another rant for another time – I maintain that a seat, metaphorical or no, is important.

It is very tough to be involved with and directly impacted by outcomes of gatherings around tables when you are not offered a seat at the table. It is very hard to do the work of sense-making and beautification of broad, arm-wavey points of view, the role for which you are in fact paid, when you have not been sitting at the table collecting the fragments.

Give a person a seat at the table. How else do we grow?

To people who don’t *quite* believe me when I say things to them, even though I’m right

I was under the impression that speaking to you in a friendly tone of voice was the best approach for like, workplace goodvibes and whatnot. I go for friendly, optimistic and helpful, because that is my way, like my mum taught me.

I am realising now that sometimes it is best to be an assertive bitch about things so that people (men, mostly men) believe me when I say a thing out loud. I don’t have an end-of-sentence inflection that indicates it’s a question, so all things equal, just go ahead and assume it’s a statement I’m making.

While you’re assuming stuff, go right ahead and believe to yourself in whichever way you know best that I would not be saying a thing to you if it was a lie. I would not be pretending to know a thing I did not know. Maybe you do this; maybe humans are want to fake stuff now and then. I’m not saying I’ve never pretended to know something I didn’t know, but I am saying that in this particular context, let’s just consider me to be offering the best expertise I have an my disposal.

I’m not saying I’m never wrong. I’m saying let’s just assume I’m never wrong, and wipe the doubt clean off your face.

To people who are not as important as all that, on issues that most certainly do not qualify as a ‘disaster’

I don’t want to always be the bitch pointing out the other worse bitches, but this afternoon at 32 degrees in my office with no aircon, damn it, I will be that bitch.

Sometimes people keep it real and understand the natural flow of things in a large organisation, where several teams need to work with each other to get a thing done. We’re all cogs of a (sometimes) well-oiled machine. We all have to do our thing to make the other thing go. I’m not a mechanic but I think I’ve used the metaphor correctly, yes?

Sometimes people do not at all keep it real and instead they decide a thing that needs to be done is broken, and they just keep on phoning different people on different phone numbers until someone answers them who they can yell at.

Sometimes that person who gets yelled at is me, and sometimes the times is today.

Why people want to cause fuss on 32 degree days is beyond me. Our emergencies are not medical emergencies. It’s ok if they wait til Monday if there’s a net in place to catch the people who might need catching. We come back, we empty our net, we make sashimi (wait, I think I did this metaphor wrongly), we fix the metaphor, we fix the thing, we move on.

None of this terrible prose is really capturing my intended take away message, which is:  focus on who matters. If those people are ok until the problem can be fixed, we’re good.  Stop calling things a disaster when they are really just the possibility of a phone call.

To people who could be a lot more helpful if they could only be slightly bothered

Sometimes I am decidedly not helpful. Sometimes this is because I think the person should just do it themselves, sometimes it’s because I am busy and have other issues that feel more important.

Mostly, though, I flatter myself that I exhibit quite the ‘can-do’ attitude, particularly at work when I am being paid well to do things.

I realise I’m leading myself into a trap here; I hold others to the same expectations I have of myself. I realise not everyone is as great as me. I know this.

But fuckssake, I am very much completely over the whole concept of humbly asking how something is to be done when I do not know, with keen awareness of the fact that we’re all riding a high-maintenance rollercoaster of administrative powerplay, and having the careful asking thrown in my face.

I’m quiet, and nice, and competent as fuck. Just go ahead and assume I am asking you how to do something so that I do it the correct way preferred by you, and not because I’m an idiot who exists merely to ruin your life. Feel safe in that assumption, I urge you.

A person should not want to cry while drinking heavily so early into the working week. It’s Tuesday, mate. Please, just help me with the thing.

Because that is actually your job.

To people who think I might be scared of them

Hey fictional senior colleague,

I think what hurts the most (from how hard I laughed, not in the feelings) is that what you’re actually saying while implying I might be, in fact, Scared of your Scary Senior Self, is that I don’t give your non-work related posturing any reply airtime.

Because I literally do not care about the unspoken, read-between-the-lines idea that a much less senior (and let’s face it, only administrative) member of staff should be pandering to your less-than-whatever email banter, I of course must actually be a-skeered of you.

I don’t owe you replies to emails that aren’t progressing my work. I’m pretty fucking busy, and while I’m not that important yet, I will be one day. Like in the future, when you’ve retired and you’re waiting for someone to trot you out for guest lectures but I’M IN CHARGE NOW so nobody does.

I’m not scared of you, I’m just ignoring you because I don’t care about your stupid feelings

That’s heaps cute though.