Notes to self

Don’t you hate those times when your impractical and over-sensitive approach comes and bites you in the ass? You know you trust people too much, you know you feel an obligation to reveal things about you so that people don’t feel left out and you also know that this needs to change because you don’t owe a thing to people and it also lands you in a soup every damn time. More so because what you start off as a cordial and friendly relationship always ends into you realizing you don’t quite like those people and find them offensive and the very same people finding you elegant, adorable and someone they seem to have very keen interest in. So then come these times when I want to pull my hair out for not mending my ways. This time, I just decided to give myself a self-help session. So here are my notes to myself.

1. Do not let people think their opinion matters to you when it clearly doesn’t. This happens to me way too many times. I believe in being friendly and cordial with everyone and being on good terms with all at work. But I don’t realise when this starts turning into a friendship that becomes more important to people than it is to me. And then I fall into the abyss of feeling obligated to share because I don’t want to hurt those nice people who care so much about me and only want the best for me. But what really happens is, my politeness is mistaken as an invitation to offer me unsolicited advice that I don’t care about but have to pretend I do. This of course is only applicable to work scenarios because you can’t vehemently argue with them like you would with your real friends or family members. Which soon makes me regret the day I revealed a bit too much about myself and showed people my vulnerable side.

Just yesterday, I had the huge task of letting an ex-boss, who has been more than a boss, that I had put my papers down. And an idiot that I am, I chose to do this when I was out lunching and drinking with husband and little sis. And then started this series of cross questioning: are you sure? Don’t you think you are making a mistake? Are you sure you’ve given everything you have to the organisation? (what?!), Have you learnt everything you could? Have you considered other options in the same company? Then, when I batted these questions quite smartly began a barrage of personal opinions which I hadn’t asked: I think it’s too soon, You have spent only 2.7 years here and you’re moving, that will look bad on your CV, who will take you?…My point, I was approached in spite of having less(?!) experience, so maybe it doesn’t matter if you are suited for the job.

It wasn’t “what do you think I should do?” It was, “I just thought of letting you know that this is what I have decided and already communicated”. But that was just not to be. At one point I was also almost threatened that she’d let my manager know and see how I can be retained. Is there no such thing as personal choice anymore? And since when did corporates begin thinking that you can’t move unless you have given everything you have. I mean, really? Are they an NGO working to remove female infanticide or feed poor children? I will not buy that line from a profit-making company.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, always be cautious not to reveal your personal, vulnerable, edgy side which is for the sole benefit of your family…even if they can do away with it. 🙂

2. Keep it casual and impersonal. I could have avoided a lot of headache if I didn’t create a situation where I would be under a moral obligation to let someone know my legitimate plans for future and leading them to misunderstand that anything they say is welcome. I think my husband has this figured out to the last bit. He is very casual, friendly, approachable but he never crosses over to be more friends with a certain group. Of course, he doesn’t do that on purpose, just as I don’t purposely reveal…it’s just who we are. Having said that, being somewhat impersonal would do me a world of good, especially because I tend to mull over things.

3. Avoid associating with just a certain set of people. Keep it flowing. Again, I have hardly ever voluntarily formed a group or have craved to be part of one. In fact, I dislike being associated with anyone or any group because I hardly ever completely fit in. But you somehow just get pulled into groups and then you chose not to reveal your true feelings all the time because you just don’t want to discuss anything controversial in a work setting. But even so, I really need to make sure I talk a little bit to everyone rather than make any one person feel I am their best bud. Perception management must come really handy here.

4. Don’t ever let people make you feel guilty. I must have said this about myself before. It’s very easy to make me feel guilty. You don’t even have to do anything particular as most of the times that’s my default state of mind. But it’s extremely important to yank yourself out of it. The last time I decided to move to a different department in my company, a certain person (same ex-boss btw) tried to make me feel guilty by “subtly” saying things like what all had been done for me. But the bottom line is: No one ever offers you anything you don’t deserve. You are more likely to get less that what you deserve rather than more. So don’t at any point ever even encourage someone to finish a line that may end up guilting you into doing something you are not happy about. If you have a good opportunity that you feel positive about, just do it. If a company ever has to let people go, they are not going to think twice before saying bye bye to you and even doing so in a way that suggests they are helpless. This is a bad bad world and you just need to make peace with it.

5. Stay aloof and slightly out of reach. I am largely aloof and out of reach at work in the sense that no one generally dares to pull some random unjust shit with me. But somehow this being my first job, I must have shown over keenness at the beginning and voluntarily asked for people’s opinion. Unfortunately, the people I asked it to were not as smart as they appeared to be and just didn’t get that I was basically very capable of making my own decisions, probably since a time that my parents would have preferred it if I didn’t.

6. Don’t ever doubt your calibre. I have learnt this the hard way. I started working pretty late compared to friends who started working at 21-22. So when I landed a good job, I felt very grateful. But then, in this world, why would anyone offer anything as a favour? Even now, when I have quit, I had to hear things like how I was in the process of being promoted and how it’s a waste of heavy duty work they are putting in. My note to self here is that they are just doing their job and would probably have done a better job if they promoted what according to them is a very valuable resource, sooner. Why wait till that resource has found something more resourceful. Doesn’t this clearly indicate the general lax attitude of taking your people for granted? People will always try to tell you how good you are, but just not good enough. The important thing here is to recognize that they need you just as much as you need them.

Anyway, the gist is to not let anyone make a big deal out of anything related to your job. In the end, it’s just a job. Not the end of the world and definitely not something to lose your sanity over. The only regret I feel is that the current manager I report to has only been helpful and encouraging and I would stay on had I not been so much in love with change itself.



  1. Agree with everything…. but it is tough to implement. i also got stuck with a group without noticing it and then their opinions mattered a lot. i wouldn’t realise it then, but once i quit i realised. some of the influence was quite toxic in fact and was contributing to my misery then, while i didn’t realise it.

    so yes. i think one needs to be very careful with forming friendships at work. and your point about showing vulnerability is also right.


    1. Hain na? I talk like I’ve got it all figured out. But honestly, I am miserable most of the times. You can implement it only if you are that kind of person. But then again if you are like that, you don’t even have to deliberately implement it. It’ll just happen.I feel sometimes that guys do it better. They naturally tend to reveal very little of personal life. At least that has been my experience with my guy colleagues. You can talk about nothing and still have fun.

      I intend to try and implement at least half of this at the new place. It has to be done right from the beginning. Very difficult to suddenly change. And I agree with your point about toxic influence. You don’t even realise it until it completely takes over.


  2. oh yes, the toxicity is very difficult to notice when you are in the middle of it all.

    yes, guys i think are wiser and more cautious when it comes to internal things. the group i had had 2 guys and i thought they were exactly like me- bingo, their actions proved that they weren’t at all. actually they just kept bitching on and on without taking any action. and their ambition proved to be far more potent that their angst!!

    so yes, i think one needs to be casual at work, with most people. err on safety’s side!!


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