The most appealing aspect of being a grown up, to a younger me, was always the magical state of being one seemed to enter whereby the opinions of others suddenly became about as significant as whispers in the breeze. That was supposed to be the payoff after those long teenage years of calculating every word and move to stay in with the right people, be saying the right things, be caught for the right wrongdoing. Looking back on it, how can that have been anything other than exhausting? And yet I remember it coming more easily to me, the contrivances of constantly being the smart-arse, more so than this awkward unfailingly polite version of myself I keep being confronted with.
I know it’s just work, the in at the deep end mentality of temp work, especially when you’re “an Executive Assistant, but don’t use the title because it upsets the other secretaries”. There’s this silent battle of wills, I’m trying to bowl over complete strangers with my talent and initiative, while at the same time struggling to appear nonchalant. But why work so much harder to impress people who will have forgotten my name before the last timesheet is faxed through? Does it matter if they think I’m God’s gift, or just a quiet girl who did everything that was asked of her? Why does it send me into paroxysms of panic and self-loathing whenever I make a minor mistake? They’re just faces, stuffed shirts who need to be handled in order to keep the cash flowing.
Though perhaps this work-limited perfectionism, these excruciating standards will stand me in good stead for what should be following in years to come. Shouldn’t the person advising Prime Minister Cameron (heh!) on global security be an exacting professional who doesn’t tolerate error or indiscipline? Or perhaps I’m still just a scared little girl who doesn’t understand why people never seem to like her the most out of the group, and isn’t going to give up without a strange and passive-aggressive fight.