Just Breathe

There are days where I have to consciously remind myself to breathe.

Breathe, I’ll tell myself in my head.

Usually when I do that, I realize how long I’ve been holding my breath – how long it has been since I’ve exhaled.

So I force myself to exhale, then inhale, then exhale again.

I find myself doing that when I’m stressed – when I have a lot going through my mind.

Today I was reminding myself to breathe a lot.

I am less than a week before go-live on a project. My first go-live in well over a year….which is sad given I’ve had half a dozen projects since then.  This project is actually pretty straight forward.  We are working with a good implementation consulting firm.  And all has gone well.

Until a week ago.  A trial production migration in a non-production environment went sideways.  A missed step resulted in us having to halt validation until they could wipe it out and do the migration again.  Yesterday, we got the new environment back.  And this time, it was looking good.  They found a few issues here and there – but all minor in comparison to the other issues of last week.  But I have an inexperienced project team who saw each minor thing as major signs of incompetency.  This project of 3 months with everyone being happy with the consultant company is all threatening to unravel due to a few minor issues.  I left work Monday after I left a message with the PM on their side.  I warned him that today’s meeting was not going to pretty. They needed to come prepared as people were losing faith.

And they did.  Their approach is good – quite impressive, in fact.  This is not half baked but fully thought out.  I was happy to hear it.  But while on the call, the group Skye chat was too cynical for me.  And that is saying something.  They believed none of it.  They felt it was all lip service.  Everyone is freaking out.  The sad part is that this is the cleanest project, even with minor issues, that I’ve seen at this company.  And as far as my experience goes overall, this is easy stuff.  While they want to call it all off, I’m sitting there getting more and more frustrated at their lack of perspective.  I kept having to tell myself to breathe.  Over and over again until I finally minimized the skype window so I could ignore it.

Or try to until they started emailing me…..over and over again.

I had to give myself the same reminder when I was browsing my Fetlife feed today.  Despite my best efforts to gag all of those creating unnecessary noise on a recently local issue brought to light on that site, I am still seeing things pop up.  Rarely do things trigger me, but if you want to set me off in an instant, start telling people that agree with you that they are wrong for not parroting exactly what you are saying.  Then when called out, make it about age or tone or something that distracts from the real point…….that you’re being an inflexible asshole who really is no better than those you are railing on.

I think what set me off today specifically was how a woman in her very early 30s got pissy because someone in her late 40s, early 50s, called her (and others) out on their approach by pointing out it was more zealot than advocate.  When I saw zealot, I thought “yes! this!”  Later the younger woman posted a thing saying how sad it is that older women are trying to silence her.  No one is trying to silence her – but get her to understand her approach is flawed.  And the people doing it are not speaking from a place of superiority but one of experience.

What set me off was the fact that when I was younger, I was constantly silenced because I was young and didn’t understand.  I had no peer group in my job or even in the company I worked in because I was a rare person who jumped into the workplace out of college and thrived.  Now I’m being told that my experience is null because I’m too old and not honoring those who cleared the path before me.

I had to remind myself to breathe (and walk away) before I pointed out that “Honey, I am part of the women who forged the path you are on. So how fucking dare you try to silence anyone like me.  You want to know what being silenced is like?  Join the throngs living in real life (no, sorry, college life doesn’t count), and you learn the navigate through professional situations – and I’ll guarantee that you will learn to silence yourself once in awhile.   You will learn that philosophy and all is interesting until you have to apply it then it’s a whole new beast.  And you are going to learn quickly that telling people they are wrong all of the time is going to do nothing but label you difficult to work with and unable to accept the ideas of others.  Wish you well trying to hold a profession job with that over your head.  And by the way, that isn’t sexism of the system, that is you not understanding how to coexist with other human beings.”

Instead, I closed the browser, reminded myself to breathe, and made note that if either of my girls act like that, that I will have a HUGE come-to-Jesus moment with them.  Yeah, I’m not contributing to society by releasing my kids into it with that sort of fucked-up attitude.

I had other conversations and other interactions that forced me to remind myself to breathe too. A friend going on and on about how her son is skipping school again – then when asked what she is going to do, she says she isn’t going to stress about it because what can she do.  Yet, she just spent time stressing to me about it.  The stupid in the whole thing – the irresponsibility made me have to consciously take a deep breath and change the subject.

And this was the trend.  Another former cohort pinged me about how things were going – but I quickly realized he didn’t care.  He was looking for info. So I wandered off…..the beauty of chat.

It seemed to be one of those days where I couldn’t tell if I was in a mood or everyone else was.

What do you think?

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