The hidden gift of being average

It feels like I’m majorly sucking at my new job. Or, at very least, I am not stellar. Or impressive in any way whatsoever. Realistically, I’m probably perfectly average. Which is uncomfortable. I thought I was special. What the Hell.

Yesterday was the last day of our third and final “post-school” phase of training, meaning Monday we officially start work as auto damage adjusters without mentorship. I do not feel prepared. I still have so much to learn, as I imagine will be the case forever. Most things feel this way at first.

Without going into detail about how this job is incredibly fast-paced and detail oriented, suffice it to say that I am “too methodical and analytical and not decisive enough” for my supervisor’s taste. I work too slow, double-check too much, and question my decisions too long. I’m trying to not fuck up, which I am generally succeeding at, but my supervisor assures me that fucking up is the best way to learn. But my inner perfectionist can’t do it. Not on purpose.

It’s strange. In every other job I’ve ever had, I’ve been accused of the opposite: working too fast. I’m actually notorious for rushing through almost everything in life, so the fact that being too slow is my current problem tells me that I’m either actually bad at this job and/or on a learning curve (most likely), fundamentally slowing down as a person (doubtful), less ambitious in general (true), or learning from past mistakes (unlikely).

Last week I was getting to know my supervisor by asking her about her life, and she commented that I “should be a counselor” because she found it surprisingly easy to open up to me. That’s a first impression I do not believe I’ve ever made on someone unless I’m that self-unaware, which would be ironic for someone who allegedly “belongs” in a field like counseling. She also told me I am a natural with customers and good at “massaging” bad news. My experience as a health/life coach seems to be paying off, but I’m still too slow at my job.

I’m transferring to a new supervisor next week for an unknown reason, but I’ve convinced myself it’s because however nice and pleasant I am to talk with, I’m not as efficient as Supervisor 1 wanted me to be. But it’s funny because my coworker, who works much faster but feels equally overwhelmed, blamed not himself for his overwhelm, but the lack of organization and systems in the shop. He blamed external circumstances. I blamed myself. Typical gender norms, right there.

From the moment I wake up to the moment I get home from work at around 5pm, my body is in a chronic state of mild stress. I notice this in my body because my skin gets drier, I hold onto water weight, and my body requires more sleep. And instead of stress eating, I stress control. While I do enjoy the intensity of my job and the process of learning and slowly getting better at it, the weekends always feel so sweet.

Yet, projecting this daily stress into the future, it feels counterproductive for my longevity goals. I hope this job eases up, or I get good enough to the point where it doesn’t stress me out as much. Supervisor 1 looked perpetually stressed and drained, so I do question whether supervision and management is where I want to take my career. If I were to not strive to climb this corporate ladder, how much mental energy could I clear up? Probably a lot.

But I’m only 2 weeks into the job and 3 months into employment, so I’ll save this pontification for another time. Things tend to click after a while, and when they do, I tend to want more. But “more” doesn’t necessarily need to come from work.

My goal with Geico is to not let it take control of my life and define me like most previous jobs have done. I’m learning to compartmentalize my work life, so I don’t bring it home in any way (this blog post the exception, but this feels more reflective than stress-inducing). This will hopefully mitigate the long-term effects of the associated stress and dampen my human desire to reach for more. Supervisors and managers necessarily bring work home because they are salary and virtually on-call. Being tied to a cell phone is a reason I left real estate in 2015, so why plan to invite that back into my life now?

Similar to what I concluded while contemplating the need to excel in graduate school (spoiler: there’s no need), there is no need to work harder (or faster!) than I have to at work, just to make more money than I actually need, just so I can feel a little bit better about myself. That’s not the game I’m playing anymore. So maybe being slow and average at this job is exactly what I need in order to calm the fuck down, which is, after all, my overall 2018 life goal.


Wife, yogi, and cat mama living in the SF Bay Area.

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