Work Ethic

The Jellicle Cat sometimes tells me that he really admires my work ethic. I don’t think he actually means this, I think what he means is that he really admires my will-power. It’s something that The Princess and I share, The Princess rode 180 miles on a bicycle through sheer determination (and did much better than a fitter but less determined cyclist). The Jellicle Cat has seen my determination get me through a degree, do a year of PGCE on 4-6 hours sleep a night (if that) and knows that if I really want to do something I will come hell or high water. That’s a little separate in my head from my work ethic.

Since heading into the world of work after education (so discounting Saturday jobs, summer jobs and evening jobs etc.) I have spent precisely two years not worrying about being fired. Those two years I signed and watched being signed an honest to gods actual contract. Well, I say signed, I stamped it with my personal seal as did Kocho-sensei. In Japan I had a job which I knew lasted to a set date and I didn’t (that I currently recall) worry about being fired.
When I have a job I work fairly damned hard at it, I don’t just mean in the initial flush of ‘new job – must impress colleagues’, I mean I absolutely have to DO ALL THE THINGS and do them right and to time. I work very well to goals and deadlines, especially if I’m allowed to set them myself. I suppose partly that is willpower but partly theres a small voice in the back of my head telling me that if I don’t do all of this exactly right I will be fired, and in actual fact, when people discover that they’ve accidently employed me, I will be fired anyway.

I suppose it doesn’t really help that a lot of times I was taken on as a teacher by schools/departments that knew they couldn’t afford me and so would take me on for days at a time before finding an excuse to have me leave or working out that a current member of staff could take on my extra role. I find it difficult, even when the job is taken on supposedly just for cash and until I get a ‘real’ job, for work not to take over my life somewhat. I think that this happens because I overly identify myself with whatever role people pay me to do and as I’ve proven lately, it’s not about what I’m spending time doing. It’s especially not about what I’m spending most time doing if I enjoy it.
I have never described myself as a writer or an artist. Currently, I describe myself as a cleaner. That is what I’m getting regularly paid for doing ergo is what I am. I would like to point out that there is nothing wrong with being a cleaner, and as ever with my attitude to work I’m doing I’m doing it to the extent that my colleagues are remarking about how thorough I am. I don’t want to be a cleaner though, I want to be a writer. (I also want to earn enough money that I can feel as if I’m not just The Jellicle Cat’s dependant.)

That little voice in the back of my head isn’t happy when I take time off from what other people want me to do so that I can concentrate on my career. I can’t even seem to let myself consider it a career, the inside of my head considers that to be laughable. Taking myself and my ambitions seriously is a stupid thought and the sooner I realise that and knuckle down and be a cleaner the better – according to that little voice. It’s said it about teaching, admin work and now cleaning. When I’m really enjoying writing it’s the voice that will guilt trip me into doing whatever dull task somebody else needed me to do. It even gets me to tidy up (but only occaisionally!)

My determination is something to admire, my work ethic though, comes from some part of me that believes I am about to get fired at any second for incompetancy. I don’t know where this voice came from nor where this idea that I’m about to get fired did either but I’m always convinced that I will and that I won’t be able to find another job when I am. In fact that I’m not worth having another job and I really do measure a lot of my self-esteem etc.etc. from having a job.

I don’t know where that came from either. I don’t like it very much, but I’m not really sure what to do about it, nor the notion that I shouldn’t be a writer and that I’m selfish (and therefore bad) for even thinking about it. Sitting down writing is a treat and therefore I need to jump through a dozen other hoops before I let myself, especially if I think it looks like it might be publishable, that’s when I suddenly take myself off and do the washing up.

Where the hell did this come from?

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