Judge Dread

It’s the end of June and that means performance review time at my company.  I have been feeling extremely nervous about the whole thing and, quite frankly, a little ill. I do not know my reviewers terribly well, and I have this (hopefully irrational) fear that I will sit down at the meeting and have a bombshell dropped on me.

Although the situation is different from last time, this is really nothing new. Last year when I was going through the process for the first time, my then-supervisor stopped by to drop off my written evaluation. I was on tenterhooks and my heart pounded so loudly I barely heard the words “Come into my office when you’re ready”. Things were fine, of course; I’m still employed there, and I took away from the experience that my supervisor was a nice guy and I should have trusted that I would have known ahead of time of any problems.

I hate the feeling of being judged. Even during such a mundane process as performance evaluations, I take each and every word personally and seriously and I tend to read and re-read the narrative to see if I can find anything written “between the lines”. My last two reviews weren’t bad at all, but I still found myself dwelling on the less-than-perfect parts.

And so it is for me in general. I can easily appear to be poised and nonchalant about things, but inside I worry what people think about my job, my weight, the amount of dirt on my car, the way my 7-year-old behaves in public… and the list can go on ad nauseum. This is a lifelong habit, easily learned and hard to break. Being a “fat” kid didn’t help. Neither did some of the jobs I held right out of high school. In fact, there are a plethora of experiences that shaped my fretful mentality. More than anything, I think, I worry that there is something wrong that I’m too dense to notice and everyone else does. Again, this possibly was born from childhood and early adulthood experiences in which I was blindsided by having something brought harshly to my attention. When I was a kid, I never questioned the motives of those doing the judging; I figured they knew something I didn’t. And I felt terrible about it.

I don’t believe that I am unique in my self-judgement or in my preoccupation with what others think. For example, I have at least a dozen friends on a weight loss regime (or expressing the desire to be on one) at any given time. Some are simply into healthy living and seem to have great confidence in themselves (my friend Lynda effectively coined for me the phrase “Birthday Suit Alterations“, which makes me smile every time I read it) but I do hear comments occasionally to the effect of “So you think I’m fat?” or “Oh, I could never wear a two piece bathing suit. I wouldn’t want to scare people on the beach”. To them I say pppppfffffttt! Which in turn makes me into a huge hypocrite. It’s perfectly OK for me to rail on myself but not for my friends, relatives and colleagues to do the same?

So, anyway, back to the performance review. I have just over a week to condense the past six months’ worth of projects and work – both those which went smoothly and those which I can consider a “learning experience” were it not for the fact that I tend to internalize everything, even those aspects of work that aren’t directly affected by my actions. I have to attempt to write a short narrative in as objective a way as possible. Luckily for me I have my previous evaluations to use as a guide, which helps, but there is still the temptation to think, and perhaps over-think the process. Wish me luck!

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