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My ‘ Catitude’ strikes again…

The Cheshire Cat from “Alice in Wonderland”!

A few months ago, I wrote about a situation at my job where a coworker called me out for having a bad attitude (you can read all about it here).

In a nutshell, I have often been called out for having a bad attitude, and as of January 2018, I decided it was really annoying and I should probably do something about it before I really started standing in my own way.

Since then, I’ve made an effort to smile when I’d rather have resting bitch face; made small talk when I’d rather listen to podcasts in the comfort of my office; and I’ve taken deep breaths instead of blurting out my initial reaction.

It sounds really small, but these are big changes in my world.

A few weeks ago, an opportunity was presented to me at work. It was an opportunity that would mean more responsibility, working with new people, being a part of strategic decisions, and making more money.

So, I threw my hat in the ring.

But I heard that not too many people were excited to see my name – how could she think she could manage people when she’s so rude?

I understood their thoughts, but I was crushed. Even after all the work – and effort – I’d been putting in, I was keeping myself from moving forward in my career.

Granted, these were opinions coming from people that have never worked with me, but still. I had an honest conversation with my boss and asked her if it was a lost cause.

And I wasn’t just talking about the recent opportunity; I was also talking about my job in general. If I’ve ruined my reputation so bad by just a few things (writing short emails, not saying thank you fast enough, etc.), then it was time for me to find a new job and start over.

She said it wasn’t a lost cause, but I still needed to do more self-reflection on my attitude.

So, I’m working on that, and I also volunteered to give extra training presentations (for which some people openly said they wouldn’t attend), I’ve sent cheery and informational emails, I’ve blindly agreed, and I’ve picked up extra tasks.

Most of these things have gone ignored; emails go unanswered, trainings will be unattended, and people will likely still think I’m rude.

Perhaps my attitude will always be my struggle.

And hey, if I never get a promotion, well, that’s another problem for another day. But in all honesty, it hurts my heart that people think I’m “fucking rude” (that’s the phrase that was said to me).

Yeah, I can be a smart ass. But fucking rude?

I certainly am not out to hurt people, and I’m always just trying to do my work as efficiently as possible, which I understand can come off as short. I also understand that perception is reality, and I have to be careful with how my coworkers perceive me.

But the people who’ve said these things about me work in another state – they didn’t see that I cooked and delivered dinner for my coworker and her family when they moved into a new home, when I helped someone in another department write a lengthy email because she couldn’t get her thoughts down, or anytime I make the morning coffee because our administrator is bogged down with phone duty.

I’m not asking to be praised for these team tasks – it’s what people do for each other, and I want people to see me as helpful, not hurtful.

I suppose time, and continuous effort, will tell.

I know that at most jobs, you can’t really be your full self – but I’ve never had to work somewhere where I have to watch every word, pay attention to my facial expressions, and my emails. Is this adulting?

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Do I have a ‘Catitude’ problem?

Miss Blanche!

“All you do is complain.”

My coworker was standing in my boss’ doorway, yelling at me, while I was staring at her, my eyes wide while sipping coffee.

Rewind this about two minutes and you’d have found us on the other side of our office suite. She’d asked me a question that I didn’t have an answer to, so I said, “I don’t know” and walked away.

Big mistake.

“You really should have a better attitude about this,” she said.

If there is one thing anyone can say to me that sets my brain on fire – it’s that.

“No, I don’t,” I said, with my back turned, walking to a meeting with my boss.

Even bigger mistake.

That brings us up to speed for the turrets’ style blowup in the doorway.

“So many people tell you that you have a bad attitude, but you don’t do anything about it,” she continued. “You don’t give a shit.”

She was right about one thing: many people have told me I have a bad attitude. I’ve heard it for most of my life.

Even as a child, my dad predicted that it would never be my actions that got me into trouble, but rather, my mouth.

I was well-behaved in school, but I have never been one to shy away from an opportunity to express myself, whether through makeup, clothes, dance, or by way of words – particularly through writing.

In high school, an opinion piece I wrote landed me in the principal’s office. It was about the lack of work the school was doing to increase handicap access to our buildings. I’d interviewed the vice principal, quoted him, and now he was denying it. Not on my watch (I had interview notes and teachers to back me up) – I didn’t get in trouble.

In college, I managed to piss off countless people via printed newspaper columns over the years. Some of them I knew personally, others wrote letters to the editor. One of them threatened me via email and the campus police got involved. The truth hurts.

During holidays, my family told me I reminded them of Daria – a cartoon character on MTV – known for her dry wit.

I have always taken this as a compliment. Daria is smart, funny, politically involved, and in the end, she always does what’s right (i.e. Saving Quinn from frat boys with bad intentions).

I’ve never set out to say something that will hurt someone – but I’m also not willing to sit idly by while someone else does something I feel is wrong. I’m quick to call it like I see it.

A few years into my first job after college, I got in trouble for something I published on Twitter. A coworker screenshot it and I got called into the big boss’ office. She was really, really angry.

I admitted to what I did, owned it, I didn’t apologize, and I also accepted the punishment (I was fired not too much later).

I said what I said and I stood by it. I have always believed that is my right, and if you don’t like it, then well, there’s the door.

Part of this attitude is in my blood. I come from a family of entrepreneurs; we’ve paved our own path and, most of the time, it’s been successful (albeit not easy).

The other half of this is that, I’m a really hard worker. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I’ve worked my way from the bottom and I’ve done it old school. I’ve hustled – I can’t remember the last time I’ve only had one job.

I’ve slung fried pork loins at drive-ins, dipped frozen custard, had multiple retail gigs, written freelance (for 11 years) for dozens of publications – no job is too small.

I’m always juggling, always trying to think of new ways to do old jobs, and do it without being asked. I have always wished that my work ethic would speak for itself, instead of a fake smile in a meeting.

But, like my coworker said, my attitude always comes up during my annual reviews. Of course, that is something I shared with her in confidence; she was my friend at work, too. We shared lots of things over lunches in my office that we didn’t tell others.

Until she yelled it through my boss’ door loud enough for other coworkers to hear. As she yelled, I sat, stone-faced. But as soon as she left, I cried.

I cried because, well, I hate being yelled at, but also because since my review, I’ve gritted my teeth and smiled more times than I can count. I’ve taken a deep breath instead of jumping to assumptions. It may seem small, but to me, I’ve silenced myself for the sake of my job, and I still get yelled at.

It’s the same feeling I had when I was a cocktail waitress – complete with fish nets and heels – and the rude guy asked me to smile, for him.

You still get the same shitty tip whether you grit and grin or walk away.

A few years ago, I started embracing the term “Cat Lady”. Not because I have several cats, but because I’m not ashamed of who I am.

The term “cat lady” has always been used to shame single, usually older women, who have lots of cats. It also implies you’re unkept, crazy, and recluse.

I was – and still am – on a mission to flip the term into a compliment. Yeah, I’m a Cat Lady: I’m single, I have a cat, I love to read, and I am usually home on Saturday nights. So, what?

My cat Blanche is a calico tortoiseshell. During her first vet visit, she jumped onto the vet’s keyboard – pressing keys as she walked back and forth.

“You’ve got a sassy one,” the vet said. “Tortoiseshells always have that tortitude.”
Tortitude, or catitude, has become the way I describe Blanche’s mood. When she’s upset, she bites me; when she’s happy, she purrs and brings sparkly pipe cleaners. There are rarely miscommunications between us.

Perhaps she is the Jane to my Daria.

While Blanche will never have to cope with the real world, I imagine my “Catitude” will always be an issue for me. That’s not to say I don’t try, but I’ll never be willing to water down my personality for anyone.

As for my coworker, we did meet later to try and hash it out. She said she was mad because she’d worked at 8:30 the night before so that I would feel supported and she felt she deserved respect the next day.

Obviously, I’m not a donut parade, so that excuse wasn’t up to par for me. Her next idea was that I’m not emotionally reliable.

No shit. Next?

It’s been about 6 weeks since that day, and despite us sharing a wall at work, we’ve only exchanged a handful of hellos.

While I hate being really good at cutting people off, I just can’t skate over the words she said: “All you do is complain.”

It put all of my late nights, early mornings, low pay, and creative initiatives into the trash.
Over time, my pain will fade, my work ethic will stay the same, and as for my Catitude?

Well, Daria’s getting a reboot so there’s hope for even the most bitter blogger you know.

Attitude is everything.

One of my favorite quotes.

Very rarely in my life have I been praised for my attitude. Since I can remember, I was told I have an attitude problem. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about attitude, and how it affects the makings of my days.

When I got my first job post-college, I was one of the youngest people there, and I was coming in with fresh ideas and I was really excited to implement them. But, I was up against a really old and traditional way of doing things, and many of my coworkers weren’t interested in change. I pushed back as much as I could – I got side-eyes, and stern conversations, until I was eventually fired after seven years.

After that, I got a dose of reality, and worked like I’ve never worked before. Over the course of the past few years, I feel like I’ve tried to have a better attitude; a more positive outlook on things, because sometimes that’s all I have.

When I started my current job, I met someone – a coworker – with possibly the worst attitude I’ve ever seen. I mean she HATES everything, including but not limited to, In-N-Out, California, the Midwest, shepherd’s pie, Trump, everyone who voted for Trump, reality TV, Fox News, Megyn Kelly, protestors, anti-choicers, slow internet, border patrol, blue states, going to work, planning ahead, big trucks, flying, traveling, being tired, traffic, and the layout of Austin.

I’ve only been at this job for a few months, so I’m sure I’ll learn more about her least favorite things, but you see my point. Eventually, I understood that we weren’t going to have much in common, which is okay.

But what’s not okay is how she treats me. On several occasions, she’s ignored me when I’ve said hello or tried to speak to her. She’s slammed the door into my desk, tossed the company credit card at me, and said racist comments about white women in front of me.

So, I started trying to limit my interactions with her. I wasn’t sure how to maintain my professionalism while still talking to her. But even then, she went to our boss and told her I didn’t talk to her. My boss asked me what was going on between us, but before I could answer she said, “I know she’s really rude and racist toward white people.”

Uhhhh, ok? What more did I need to say? How is this okay?

About two weeks later, the problem hadn’t been addressed, and instead of directly addressing it, my boss simply told our entire team that whatever was happening needed to stop and we were not required to be friends at the office.

Uh, what?

Sure, I agree, we don’t have to be friends. But isn’t there a standard for the way we treat each other, as humans? I’ve never worked at a place where it’s totally acceptable to be blatantly rude to your coworkers.

My boss said if we have problems with each other, we need to address them directly. Ah, so there’s the catch: the ole it’s all on ME game.

Basically this takes the pressure off the leader, and puts the responsibility on the employee. If you have a problem, you figure out how to resolve it. If you don’t resolve it, then you must be okay with it.

So, what’s the best way to approach someone and say, hi, it hurts my feelings when you ignore me?

In all honesty, this entire ordeal has really made me look at myself and reevaluate. Am I someone who needs friends at work? No, but I do like to be friendly to those around me. Am I too scared to speak up when someone is disrespecting me? No, but I probably need to figure out a professional way to handle it.

No matter what, though, I’ve realized just how much it sucks to show up to work in a decent mood, only to discover that even just one employee has a bad attitude. It can bring down the entire team, for the whole day – and for what?

But I know it’s up to me to try and maintain a positive attitude. And just when I thought that wasn’t possible, I met up with one of my blogging students for a tutoring session. As we parted ways, he told me how much he appreciated my patience and my help with his blog.

He’s a retired professor, looking to write for leisure now that he has the time, and I was able to help, and without realizing it, I’d made a difference. At least I know things aren’t all bad.

And so today, Monday, I’m going to try to keep things positive. It may mean lots of coffee and podcasts in my ears, but I’ll be smiling.

A history of attitude & badassery

"Gentleness does not get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs." - Coco Chanel

“Gentleness does not get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs.” – Coco Chanel

My attitude has come into question lately, when I had an honest reaction to something that happened in a moment of stress. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten a talking to about wearing my heart on my sleeve.

And in all honesty, it is never my intention to hurt someone’s feelings or come across as being rude. I consider myself to be a caring person; I’m very giving, and in general, I think I’m pretty fun!

But, I do have opinions and I’m not afraid to share them. I also was not blessed with the gift of being eloquent – my strength is writing, not speaking, so if I have a response or a look that’s less than stellar, it comes across as an attitude problem.

Like I said, I’m not out to hurt anyone, but I’m also not in the business of walking on eggshells. So, I got to thinking about attitudes, and really, what IS the big deal with my attitude? Do I have an attitude problem? Maybe. And so what if I do? Maybe it’s time to GET OVER IT.

After having this little revelation, I was in traffic the other day, when I noticed the car in front of me had a couple of interesting bumper stickers on it. One said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Bloop!

And I know I’m really doing nothing to change history, so I thought about the women who have. Where are the ladies who’ve broken a few rules, said a few honest things, pissed a few people off – and in the end, they prevailed at something they’re passionate about?

So I found a few – and trust me, not all, because there’s a ton of women who’ve been badasses and have paved the way for us. Here are a few of them:

  • Kathrine Switzer: the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (1967), when the race;’s organizer realized a woman was running in the marathon, he attempted to tackle her! Switzer started training to run in the Boston Marathon when a male runner told her that no woman had ever ran it, and no woman could. She trained hard, paid her entry fee, and on the day of the race, she wore lipstick (refusing not to wear it). When she was attacked by the organizer, he told her to “get the hell out” of his race and attempted to rip the number off her shirt. After four hours and twenty minutes, she finished (read about her entire race experience).
  • Amelia Earhart: Many of us have heard the story of the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (1928), but Amelia Earhart was passionate about flying for her entire life. Earhart set several records, including the highestaltitude for autogyros of 18,415 feet that stood for years; on January 11, 1935, she became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific from Honolulu to Oakland, California. Later that year, she was the first to fly solo from Mexico City to Newark (read more about her accomplishments).

“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

  • Rosa Louise Mccauley Parks: This is a story I’m sure you learned in grade school, but the work of Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks is worthy of repeating. On December 1, 1955, Parks had finished a long day’s work, and boarded her bus home, sitting within the first few rows. As the bus began to fill with white people, forcing many of them to stand, the driver started asking black passengers to give up their seats. When Parks refused to give up her seat, the driver called the police, and she was arrested. That same night, bus boycotts were being organized. This event became The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which emptied city buses, and filled black-cab companies. The boycott continued, crippling city transit, forcing them to desegregate the buses just one year later.

“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” – Rosa Parks

  • Anne Frank: Born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, Anne Frank lived in Amsterdam with her family during World War II. Fleeing Nazi persecution of Jews, the family went into hiding for two years; during this time, Frank wrote about her experiences and wishes. She was 15 when the family was found and sent to the camps, where she died. Her work, The Diary of Anne Frank, has gone on to be read by millions.
  • Princess Diana:  Princess Diana became Lady Diana Spencer after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975. She married heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, on July 29, 1981. They had two sons and later divorced in 1996. Diana served a strong supporter of many charities and worked to help the homeless, people living with HIV and AIDS and children in need. Diana died in a car crash after trying to escape the paparazzi in Paris on the night of August 30, 1997.

“I like to be a free spirit. Some don’t like that, but that’s the way I am.” – Princess Diana 

  • Marie Stopes: Marie Stopes was a campaigner for women’s rights and a pioneer in the field of family planning. Today, Stopes’ legacy lives on in the form of one of the largest international family planning organisations in the world. Millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women trust Marie Stopes International to provide them with quality family planning and reproductive healthcare.
  • Coco Chanel: Fashion designer Coco Chanel, born August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France, is famous for her timeless designs, trademark suits and little black dresses. Chanel was raised in an orphanage and taught to sew. She had a brief career as a singer before opening her first clothes shop in 1910. In the 1920s, she launched her first perfume and eventually introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress, with an emphasis on making clothes that were more comfortable for women. She died on January 10, 1971.
  • Margaret Thatcher: Born on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, England, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s Conservative Party leader and in 1979 was elected prime minister, the first woman to hold the position. During her three terms, she cut social welfare programs, reduced trade union power and privatized certain industries. Thatcher resigned in 1991 due to unpopular policy and power struggles in her party.

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher

  • J.K. Rowling: While struggling to support her daughter and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on a book, the idea for which had reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990. After a number of rejections, she finally sold the book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, for the equivalent of about $4,000. By the summer of 2000, the first three Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earned approximately $480 million in three years, with over 35 million copies in print in 35 languages.

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling

  • Hillary Clinton: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician and the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States in the 2016 election. She is the first female candidate to gain that status in a major American political party. She served as the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, the junior United States Senator representing New York from 2001 to 2009, First Lady of the United States during the presidency of Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001, and First Lady of Arkansas during the governorship of Bill Clinton from 1979 to 1981 and from 1983 to 1992.

And so, perhaps this can serve as a little Monday Motivation for you – not to have an attitude problem, but to do YOU, to stand up for yourself when you need to, and to keep your chin up when the going gets tough.

See what Holly is up to today by following her on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 – the chances are likely she’s just hanging out with Blanche, but you never know!