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 men who stalk via professional networking sites

Yo dude.

It may be that I’m slightly more fired up that usual given the political state of things this week – women are raped and murdered and missing, and the rest of us are managing the routine influx of ‘not all men’ narratives from Best Friends and Men On The Internet and everyone in between. It may be that.

But could you, person who seems to believe repeated visits to my LinkedIn profile (of ALL the fucking things) is not stalky or weird, just fuck off a little bit, forever?

There is no legitimate reason I can think of that you need to look over my current role at the university 3 times in a week. Perhaps you forget that one time that you were a drunk, pathetic, creepy old white man at me on new year’s eve? When a male friend ended up stepping in because I’d been caught in a Politeness for Safety trap (even I, a Feminist Killjoy Bitch Who Can’t Take A Compliment, sometimes has to chose physical safety over politics)?

It may be that you don’t realise I’m notified each time you look me up, which still has no bearing on the completely inappropriate behaviour of visiting my profile in the first place. If you do realise I’m notified, I hate you already, so that’s fine (Narrator: It was not fine).

I realised recently that blocking is a thing that LinkedIn allows, and now as far as you’re concerned I no longer have any sort of online professional presence. I hope that’s what you meant the other day when I had the displeasure of running into you in the bar and you looked me full in the face and said ‘long time no see’, like we were mates.

Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off. I’ll never be your mate, and you can go ahead and die mad about it.

 

To the people offering me reassurance when it is only an acknowledgement I need (or, note to self: remember how this feels)

Dear everyone in my life who is very well-meaning and cares about my happiness,

This will come off ungrateful, perhaps. Bear with me.

I’m waiting to hear news about the outcome of an application I made. This is the vital, huge/tiny first step to over 3 years of work ahead of me, and will be a simple email which will possibly be automated. Nonetheless, it’s the difference between doing the thing I want to do and not doing it.

The waiting is a weight. There’s no way around that – I’ve accepted I’m at the hands of a system and decision makers and that for now I can’t do anything more.

Friends, loved ones – I have done this myself and so I know it’s from this place where you want to make me feel better, but truly, telling me ‘not to worry’ or ‘you’ll be fine’ in response to me vocalising the weight of the waiting, even the frustration of the waiting, is driving me up the fucking wall.

Like so many things in life (a lesson I am learning more slowly than a person smart enough for a scholarship really should), I do not need you to faux-fix this problem, I just need you to acknowledge it exists.

If you remember this, I will try to hear ‘that must be frustrating, let me buy you a beer’ behind your well-meant platitudes – and I will do my best not to race in next time and save you from the burning building of your own frustrations.

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.