I know, I know. Don’t get married to the content. This is our mantra. You are not writing the next great American Novel. You are not Dave Eggers. It’s a letter about medical routing codes. Don’t get married to it.
I have invoked the phrase under my breath enough times that I now recall it unconsciously anytime my elegant sentences are ginsued, by associates and program directors alike. I do not flinch, because I am not married to the content.
Disconcertingly, what I have become inextricably betrothed to is the procedure. All the approval emails, final signatures, pre-flight revews – the OCDness of the whole process just turns me on. When completed in the correct order, it provides an unassailable, errorless communication. Yet, a single misstep can turn you from communications-do-gooder to a despicable piece of liability.
I do not enjoy incurring liability, so I make it a point not to miss steps. However, life is not a procedure, and sometimes things happen out of order. And, this morning, I got a little confused and let an email fly that wasn’t completely informed, and got very succinctly shredded into tiny cheddary pieces by a co-worker. Not because she doesn’t like me, not because I am a bad person, but because she didn’t like the liability I represented. I would have done the same thing to her.
And, and, would you believe that, upon reading her cool clinical rebuttal of my 9:58 am email, I felt as though I was about cry? In the past this sensation has been attributed to lack of sleep, or inadvertant overdosing on allergy medication, but today all I have to pin the blame on is my strawberry smoothie, and I drink that every day. Like a little kid who just got reprimanded by his favorite teacher, the one person I trust implicitly on the team does the same thing to me that I expect – nay, require – her to do to everyone else, and I have to go sit alone in a toilet stall and take a few deep breaths.
On one hand, oh my god, I am such a freak, no one should be a little communications perfection-monkey to the point of inducing tears for a tiny, completely repairable error. On the other hand, I like that I am emotionally invested in my otherwise somewhat clinical occupation, that I can get tied up in language edits and approval processes, and actually feel proud when I do something right (and, conversely, feel utterly crushed when I do it wrong).
Where’s that balance? I do not want to be the automatons that I stand on the elevators with, who do what they’re told as best as they can right up until 4:49, and then go home to do something completely else without a thought of what they left behind. But, I don’t want to be here until seven o’clock for the rest of my life for a myriad of reasons, including that I don’t want to be here for the rest of my life, and that staying two extra hours a day effectively lowers my wage by nearly a third.
Am I just too detail-obsessed to work somewhere where detail obsession is an encouraged trait, sending me into a spiral of minutia-examining doubt on every email I send? Or, is that I am supposed to be doing something that I am truly in love with, rather than something I just geek out about?
Or do I maybe just need to leave the building during my lunch-break a little more often?