Ego Hissy Fit
In any situation, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
I’m about to rat myself out.
To tell on, or tattle (as my mom used to say).
It was definitely NOT my finest moment, but I learned something.
The other day, at my part time job I was asked to do something I consider menial.
I was sitting on the floor sorting papers to be filed (Nope, that’s not the menial part yet, if you can believe it), when I was interrupted by my boss with a request to get up and go run and feed the parking meters.
His car was right in front, the other car was a customer’s which was three blocks away—and across the street.
As I got up and took the credit card, everyone was joking about me going to “play chicken”.
Meaning, running across the busy street, dodging the cars. To feed meters.
First of all,
I don’t RUN anywhere!
But that little request unleashed pure rage inside me!
I didn’t say a word, but I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone because I would burn their cornea’s with my rage—and I know they all felt it.
It was a beautiful day, so as fun as playing chicken sounded, I took the long way around using the crosswalk and I used that time to become an observer of my reaction.
Because…It felt really, really strong and highly inappropriate.
My job is not exactly toiling in the salt mines and in theory, my boss can ask me to do whatever needs to be done. My mind could rationalize it all away, but inside I was seething.
I just kept repeating to myself:
“Chop Wood, Carry Water” an old Zen proverb, which means to find fulfillment in everyday tasks.
You’re probably thinking “what a brat” or worse. Well, don’t worry about it—So was I!!
The list of names I was calling myself could make a sailor blush.
But you feel what you feel and I felt insulted and I HAD to pay attention to that.
Now, here’s where it gets dicey for me:
I’ve either run or owned a store for over 20 years, that is until recently when I lost my own.
I was lucky enough to be offered a part-time job at a friend’s, and I’ve been so grateful to get this work during these hard economic times that I work there for a fraction of what I’m worth, AND instead of being grateful for all of my expertise and years of experience in the field— I’m made to feel as if I’m at the bottom of the pecking order.
After over 25 years in the business, I file papers and I feed parking meters.
Huge, huge humility lesson.
So…I observed all those feelings of
“Don’t you know who I am”? from the outside and recognized a recent stranger…my EGO.
“Oh…hello old friend, nice of you to come back and visit me,
Long time, no feel”!
Since my life got slam dunked in 2009 my ego has been replaced by my victim-hood.
Ego had skulked away to lick his wounds leaving me a shell of my former confident self.
I would never dream of saying “don’t you know who I am”? When I couldn’t even answer the question myself.
I’ve felt NO sense of worthiness or any feelings of accomplishment.
I’ve been behaving like the sad wad of gum on the bottom of someone’s shoe, or a beaten dog who is so incredibly grateful to be treated like shit.
So, by the end of my feed-the-meter walk, I had calmed down—and gotten reacquainted with my ego.
Ego has gotten a bad rap,
After all, we all have one.
You don’t want to give it free rein and let it run your life unless you want to end up drunk, with no money in a foreign jail, with bad tattoos and blue hair.
But sometimes…it DOES come in handy.
Like reminding me of WHO I AM.
Just like that uncomfortable little whisper late at night that says “I think I could do better”
when you’re laying next to someone perfectly fine who’s just not a good fit.
That flush of rage was a reminder of the current disconnect. I do NOT want to be here.
So…I told it I was so happy it was back because I’m ready to have it help me stand a little taller, remember what I’m worth, and make help me forge an exit strategy while continuing to be the best Goddamn paper-filer and meter-feeder on the planet.