Worth
I would really like some French toast for breakfast

Totally vague drama cont.

Did you guys read Angela's post this morning? Go ahead, I'll wait.

After I hit 'send' on my oh so heavily edited email at midnight last night and was lying awake panicking about what would show up in my inbox today (so far nothing), I thought about how it doesn't pay to be a Nice Girl.

I think a lot of us are Nice Girls. We are hard workers, we do what we're told, we take ownership of our work, we follow the rules and we don't cause anyone any grief. If something goes wrong, we go over every detail of our involvement to see where we might have performed better, even if we weren't at fault. If we need something out of the ordinary, like extra vacation time, we have to build up the nerve to ask. It's not that we're asking for the moon, but we know all the reasons why we shouldn't or wouldn't or couldn't get what we need and we're nervous about making our case. In the end we make our cases very well- we're nothing if not thoughtful and thorough- but we never sense that we deserved what we asked for. We tell ourselves how lucky we are to be working for such flexible and kindhearted people.

Phillip spends a lot of time preparing for his annual review every year. He compiles his accomplishments, researches salaries and benefits and doesn't get all bent out of shape about the idea of negotiating. Last year I remember him telling me, "I want to be paid what I'm worth." On one hand I was proud- Go Phillip!- on the other hand that statement made me want to hide behind my hands. How cocky. How self-assured. You can't tell someone how much you think your paycheck should be, because that's what you're worth, and ever back away from it. The thought of what I would have to do to defend a statement like that makes me want to hide under the nearest rock.

It's not that I don't think I'm a worthy employee. Ask Phillip. I'd saunter around my living room spouting off my grand achievements, who sent me grateful emails, what I learned on my own that day, who I saved from a fire. But in the office I kept my head down and did my job and just sort of expected to be valued. Ha.

The email I wrote last night was quite possibly the first time I've ever really stuck up for myself. My first thought was, "Oh, of course I'll help, that's the right thing to do," even though it was the absolute LAST thing I wanted to do and, quite honestly, would not be useful at all for this situation. Phillip helped me understand that I was under no obligation to be a Nice Girl this time around. Where was that going to get me? So I said NO. !!!

It's not just work where this happens. Being a Nice Girl has put me in hard situations in church settings, friendships, school, even marriage sometimes. Often I'm so busy trying to figure out if I have a leg to stand on- if my position is worthy of defense- that by the time I'm brave enough to say something it's days later and I'd look foolish going back to the issue.

Women who have this already figured out know that 'Nice Girl' isn't the correct term. More like Pushover or Ninny or I'm Not Even Going To Bother Coming Up With A Label Because I'm Too Busy Rolling My Eyes.

Last night I sent an email that, even though I literally spent hours taking out anything that could be construed as bitchy or emotional or unprofessional or unnecessary, might make someone mad at me. I might have to defend myself further or, more likely, I will have to suck it up and live my life knowing that defending myself and saying no pissed someone off. I want to grow up and know what I'm worth, but right now I'm still sort of scared to check my email.

Aaaaand this ends this discussion. You're not supposed to talk about work on your blog! Even if you CAN'T get fired!

Comments

Carrie

Wow. Poor Angela. I would be so annoyed.

I have to say, one of my favorite things about my job is that the salary changes are built-in to the yearly schedule. We all do annual 360 performance reviews at the same time (which I loathe, but they're useful), get reviewed at the same time, and our salaries are based on that. No negotiations. Which is good, because there is no WAY I would ever ask for a raise.

But I fuss at my husband all the time that he should do so. :)

Good for you for saying no. You have enough going on right now.

Lindsay

I am a Pushover of Monumental Proportions. I am told this by Steven all the time, and I am told it by his mother all the time. Seriously, his mom takes great pains to ask me if I really do like something or if I'm just saying that, because she knows that I would lie through my teeth in order to please someone. It's always awkward having her constantly check whether or not I'm actually happy with the situation, but I actually really appreciate it. She's the first person in my life who has recognised my weakness and goes out of her way not only to not take advantage of it, but to make sure that I'm not disadvantaging myself. And, when I actually don't like something? She's actually ok with me saying that. I didn't know that people could actually be ok with that. It's very new to me. She's made me feel more comfortable with being more assertive, which means that I'm still really, really awful, but not so bad that I won't ask someone for a glass of water when I have sun poisoning. (Really, I wouldn't speak up. Ever. I thought I was being a nuisance. ASKING FOR WATER.) Me being a doormat has actually caused problems in my relationship, because my family often walks all over me, and I never do anything about it. Certain males get very, very frustrated & angry that I will let people do that to me, and then get upset about it and not do anything. Bah.

So, this is probably the longest comment I've ever left anyone.

andnotbysight

Good for you!! I am really trying not to be a pushover, and it's hard. Amen to everything you said, and I'm so glad you stood up for yourself!

Jen

Yeah, I am absolutely the same way. "Sure, I'll do it, no problem." Except that it sometimes is a problem. But I am too nice to say anything about it. I have at least gotten to the point where I can stop myself for volunteering for extra work, but if someone asks me right out, I still can't say no.

Christina

It's weird - I'm outspoken, talkative, rather demanding when it comes to my husband and kids... but a total pushover when it comes to other people. The latest? My kid suffered with a staph infection for an entire week (102 fever and all) because another mom didn't tell the school before we went on vacation that her kid infected everyone. And today when we went back to pre-school? I didn't say a thing, because I didn't want to seem 8itchy - and then my feelings were hurt because no one asked about him or said they were sorry he got the staph. (I called his teacher on Sunday and left a message telling her about it). And frankly I'm still torn - should I just get over it? Is it "unchristian" to still be mad about this?
So yeah... I'm in the club with you, but I think you did an awesome thing sticking up for yourself and saying NO! :-)

Leticia

Go Maggie! You need to stand up for yourself...if you don't, who will?

ie

That was an excellent post. I think you said exactly what a lot of us are thinking. I can't stand that I'm such a Good Girl at work. It's so much a hold over from childhood, I know (and I am a pretty darn long way from childhood, let me tell ya) but I think if I just keep my head down all will be fine.

I really admire people like your husband who can stand up and Tell someone why they are what they are and why. That is something I am wanting to learn for myself.

Because you know, we are all shiny and pure in the eyes of God, so why do we tell ourselves in our whiny little voices that we are no good?

annie

Wow, Maggie. Good for you. Your last two posts have really made me think, and I think that you're right. I AGONIZE over certain things - ideas, requests - before I share them with my own husband. Which, of course, is totally ridiculous. He's my best friend, knows me better than anyone else in the world (except for the fact that he's a boy and I'm a girl and there are some hurdles which, I do believe, will never go away just because of that reality) and yet I get so nervous and feel like I'm being pushy or demanding or unreasonable. Even while going through it, my head tells me how ridiculous it is, but that stops nothing. I also find that I have a similar reaction to my husband's perspective on his work "stuff" that you do with Phillip and his reviews. I think it's a girl thing. A woman thing. A demure, humble, feminine, (dare I say) subordinate part of our makeup that compells us to feel this way. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know. I suppose it depends on the situation. But I do think that it's part of our call as Catholic women to find the proper balance between this aspect of our makeup and the tough assertive aspect as well. For me, that's where the true challenge lies. Good thing it's lent. It's a good time for working on things like that.

Anyway. I'm glad for you that you said no. That you stuck up for yourself and chose to do what you feel is right for you right now. Maybe someone will learn something from what you've had to say (even if it's not the people who SHOULD be learning it.)

jenney

yeah for livejournal and private entries. Very handy for inlaw and work bitching.

Kate P

Let's face it--the world is a better place because of "nice" people; heck it's how the world keeps turning! Of course, as Lindsay pointed out, being a Christian doesn't equal being a doormat. My dad had (and to some extent still has) a short fuse; I grew up fearing anger in my house. I still worry about "making people mad." Or being told no if I ask for something. And even what Christina said about coming off as a b-with-an-itch.

It's something a lot of us struggle with our whole lives. And sometimes it takes moments like these (and I'm sorry they happened to you, Maggie, and Angela) to help us with it. I asked St. Joseph the Worker to intercede for you both--and Maggie, I'm positive your e-mail will be O.K.!

ashley

UGH!

How timely. I'm going to have to have a talk with my boss today about how I don't think they should have created my position. Um. Yeah. The opposite of TOO much to do - there's not enough challenge and I feel like I'm getting walked all over. Doesn't help that I work with a VERY assertive girl who won't LET ME take on more challenge.

It's going to be SO HARD to let down my nice girl persona. I'm really super nervous...

Angela

I am SO proud of you for standing your ground. You're exactly right about the Nice Girl Phenomenon, and I'm glad you're breaking out of the mold. I'm still trying to figure out my own direction, but you are certainly an inspiration.

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