Acknowledge Me! ✚ Tuesdays with Tish
Apparently I get all my Tuesdays with Tish ideas from late night post-event conversations with coworkers. This time we were talking about wanting acknowledgement for our work (as we work in the public eye), confidence in our work, and the stress of performative work, which is the kind of work no one notices unless something goes wrong. ...and how old people are such angry assholes because they are scared of being forgotten when they die.
Acknowledgement is something most people want, right? Acknowledgement for a job well done. Acknowledgement from the gender(s) of your liking. Oh, this is bordering on validation. Ooh, yes, also validation. Like, I’m not pretty until a man thinks I am. I didn’t do good work until my boss tells me I did. I’m not significant unless thousands of people online tell me I am. I’m not successful until my salary is a certain amount. I’m not a good/interesting/attractive person until someone is in love with me. Validate meeeee! Yikes, that’s something else.
Back at work... we all just want acknowledgement for our work, whatever type of work we do. That usually comes from your superiors. Or your clients/customers. But how many people expect to be publicly acknowledged and thanked for doing their job? It’s an odd thing. I never expected any public acknowledgement of my hard work as a retail manager, but now I get cranky when people speaking at events only thank our Executive Director, not all the staff. It’s not that I expect this just on its own, it’s like, well as long as you’re publicly thanking people for their work in front of all the people who have been served by our work, then ya, you better thank the people that do the work that make this event possible (including volunteers! They help for free, goddamnit! Thank them!). But then I wonder if I’m just being my self-centered narcissistic self, wanting everything to be about me all the time. Am I expecting more than I deserve? But then- is that ‘Imposter Syndrome’ or whatever? Women backing down from taking credit because they don’t want to seem like they’re overstepping? I wanna say fuck that- I (we) deserve recognition, but… that’s not why we do the work, is it? I literally work at a non-profit charity… it’s not about everyone knowing and acknowledging all my hard work I put into events, it’s about the public being able to enjoy the events.
When you work in the public eye or any kind of performative work, acknowledgement for your work becomes something different. You don’t just get feedback from your clients/customers in the form of emails to HR, you get it as you are working. The good and the bad. Whether they say it to your face, or you just read the room, they are letting you know, as you are doing your work, whether or not you’re doing a good job. And as dodie poetically writes, “Words only get through if they’re sharp.” We don’t go over and over the few nice comments we got in an evening; we bitch and rant about the one or two negative interactions we had. But that speaks to our culture; complaining bring us together more than stories of nice things that happened to us.
So, all of this acknowledgement, or not, and criticism and feedback affects our confidence in our work. Even when we’re sure we know how to do our job, if one little thing goes wrong- even if it’s beyond our control- then we feel like an incompetent failure. (I keep writing “we” I guess because I’m assuming I’m not the only one who feels like this.) We’ll bitch about that one rude customer or how it was someone else’s fault, sure, but still feel like we failed somehow. And we carry that “failure” (it’s not a failure, if anything it’s usually a story of how you dealt with a fuck-up like a bawse) through into our other work, being even more anxious about that same thing going wrong again, or watching how we act because one person didn’t like our attitude once. This can be pretty universal, not just in public/performative work, but this type of work comes with the added performance anxiety which makes every little mistake feel like a colossal failure because everyone is watching.
Once again, my thoughts have not come to any conclusion or advice for you. Just me rambling about how I’m needy and want attention, as always. Boo hoo my life is so hard.
Sharing is Caring: I’ve jumped on board the Lizzo bandwagon and you should, too. Also, related, Someone Great is on Netflix and it is a delightful female friendship movie that is funny, almost as much about her break-up as it is about her amazing career accomplishments, female friendships yay, race and sexuality diversity in the leads yay, and just wholesome good vibes. Also, this scene dancing to Lizzo.
See you next Tuesday!