Friday, March 14, 2008

my shaky relationship with power

I have written a bit here and there in my other blog about power in the context of sex, but now that I have a new job, I'm encountering power dynamics of a different variety.

For a very long time I have been a direct care worker in a social work milieu, making very little money. I realize that, over the years, I've come to consider *other* things to be compensation for my work to take the place of money. For example, the work I do gives me a warm feeling in my heart. I leave every day knowing I did at least *something* that was meaningful to someone. This work also gives me a lot of satisfaction. Not because I get a lot done, but because I know the job really well. I've been here seven years, I know the program like the back of my hand and my clinical skills, such as they are, are pretty decent. In short, I rock at my job and get a lot of my self-esteem from that fact.

Now I'm in a new position, a position of much more power but, ironically, a position that puts me in an even more tenuous relationship with the powers that be above me. Ie: Any fuck-ups I make will be much more serious now so I have to be trained, and I am starting to realize that I don't want to be trained. Obviously I might need actual training on procedures I've never done before, but I'm having a problem allowing myself to recieve training in the area of my judgment.

It is my opinion that my judgment is excellent. I know, that's a little inflated, but I can't help it. I love solving problems and applying all the otherwise useless skills I learned in law school (like how to suss out complicated issues and create balanced solutions that take many different viewpoints into consideration). I think I'm good at this stuff and I feel personally attacked (ok, just mildly irritated) when my boss steers me in a different direction or flat-out disagrees with my approach.

I am whining. I know this is not a real problem, this is the kind of problem a privileged white person in America has. So, to help me put it all in perspective, I have to remind myself that I'm actually being compensated with MONEY now. Lots more money than I made before. So my self-esteem and warm heart and all that can take a backseat for awhile. I'll remember the green while I'm taking the bitter medicine of criticism. Dammit all.


Blogger not drowning waving said...

good luck with all that RPP - I am noticing at my own new job that i come up with ideas from a more 'dreaming' level of things and am met with blank faces who, though alternative in thinking and aware of many mystical things, are not used to bringing those kinds of ideas to the business worlds. all of a sudden, something that i have been commended for, appreciated for and valued for falls with a dull thud into the blank space between.
... good luck with your own new trainings :-))

12:10 AM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

I'm totally with you. With my new duties at work, I've been given quite a bit more responsibility and access to lots of super-secret confidential information. I get questioned or have to report on what I'm working on almost every day now whereas before I could be pretty independent for weeks without anyone wondering what I was up to lately. As long as I was on deadline and doing my standard weekly reports, no one cared. Heck, my supervisor admitted he didn't even read the reports!

It's driving me nuts, though it is nice to be able to basically tell people that I'm too important to help with all the boring, tedious day to day work that makes the world go round. Plus, I get access to super-secret confidential information. I feel like all of my everyday objects should contain high-tech hidden gadgets. Definitely not the worst problem I've ever had on a job.

4:24 PM  

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