LEFTOVER THOUGHTS FROM YESTERDAY’S FLOOD
Ah, my life in the arts! I can spend as much time as I want caring about my work, and not have supervisors yell at me.
“Why are you spending so much time with that? Who cares? That’s your problem, Johnston, you care too much. Never mind caring and just get the job done. Don’t make it a goddamn life project.”
The job was in social services. And my supervisors were right: I cared too much. I cared about the job I was doing, and the people I was trying to help. But I could not stop myself from caring. I endured the reprimands for caring, and sometimes cried when I was alone. (The supervisors had taken many management courses, and knew that the best way to motivate super-sensitive people is to yell at them.)
How inexperienced I was. I did not realize that I should pretend to care by pretending to show concern. That’s what my fellow workers did: they pretended to care. They covered up their feelings with booze and drugs because they saw caring, and expressing feelings, as signs of weakness.
My caring too much, and being reprimanded for caring too much, led to burnout and I quit. It was a secure, good-paying job, but I quit. Financially it wasn’t a wise move, but emotionally it was one of the best things I ever did. Quitting that job was the beginning of the journey from my head to my heart. Oh what a journey it’s been!