I returned to work in January this year and and am finding it very difficult to relate to people. My job is not my life and I have no interest in office politics or drama. How do I explain to someone that finding the photocopier needs to be restocked with paper is not the end of the world? That because there is no cyan toner you can still do your job.
Most days I sit and observe the interactions taking place around me and think back to when these seemingly unimportant things were so important to me. It feels like it was a lifetime ago. Funny how surgery, chemo, radiation and more surgery can change your perspetctive.
Some days I wake up with dread knowing that I will soon be seeing the "characters" that are in most offices.
eg. The guy who thinks he's clever and funny when in reality he's a middle aged man who makes offensive and inappropriate comments.
The guy who thinks everyone is against him.
The girl who needs to create dramas.
The guy who thinks he is a very important person.
The girl who dresses like she's going to the opening of a club.
I could go on and on.
What can I do so that I don't go crazy? I like my job but I can't relate to anyone as I like to look at the big picture and not worry about the things that I can't control. Has anyone experienced anything similar?
Sometimes I think maybe i should get another job but the rational part of my brain tells me that I'll come across the same trivial dribble no matter where I go or what I do.
So what do I do?
You are so right thinking another job won't make any difference. The trivialities of life will still be there. The people you work with do not have your insight and therefore place importance onto different things than you do. It is not their fault, nor is it yours. I came across the same problems you are facing today, not because I was sick just because I was getting older and therefore wiser. People acquire wisdom at different stages in their life, some sooner rather than later, depending on what life brings them. So keep going to work with the knowledge that you are wiser, and leave then to their petty problems. You do not have to become involved in their dramas, just listen if they require you to, and then forget about it. We know there are more important things in life...
I think it is wonderful that you are well enough to work again......... that is not trivial.
Have a good day
Hi Reena and Vinouche,
I found that I had the same response - both because of my experiences and age. I am a teacher so I am able to lose myself in the job and just not worry about the "nonsense" anymore. I have been back at work for 2 years, and I only have 2 1/2 to go until I retire so I am rather fortunate.
The way i dealt with it was to just sit back and observe and try to rationalise that what others are complaining about is their reality and that mine is different.
I was lucky in having 2 very good friends, a good Principal and an understanding Head Teacher (all female) who were able to often see things from my perspective, particularly on days when I wsn't coping.
Like all of this, it just takes time and constant readjustments.
You see, it is the same all over - "they" haven't changed - we have.
Good luck and take it slowly and gently.
Thanks Samex and Vinouche for your advice. I am so conscious of not coming across as a "know it all confucius" and have been overthinking it all. You are right, I will sit back and listen and be an ear when needed and be mindful that it may be a very big thing in the other persons reality ( :
Vinouche and Samex you are both wise ladies with sound advice.
Miss Reena, I had a similar experience at work. I was able to continue working thru treatment… (kept the mind occupied).. however, at times I felt disjointed from others and also struggled with the seemingly minor complaints I was hearing from others.
My world had changed but theirs had remained the same… my perspective had changed, theirs had remained the same…
Thank you Vinouche…your words have brought clarity to my mind: “People acquire wisdom at different stages in their life, some sooner rather than later, depending on what life brings them”.
I hadn’t thought of it like that before! Such wise words.
Through our cancer experiences, it seems we have gained wisdom and now it is our choice how we want to use that acquired wisdom. Life is about making choices and the experiences those choices bring.
Miss Reena, be gentle with yourself, allow yourself a settling in period at work and let the ensuing weeks unfold before you. Time really is a great healer.
I know what you mean for sure, Miss Reena. I suspect that you might find - if you put out some subtle feelers - that there are a lot of people who share your impatience with superficial concerns. I think it's just the noisy wheels getting the oil, that's all.
I did things like put the book I was reading on the train each day on top of my desk so people could see it and choose to say something if they wanted to. Worked a treat. Lots of conversation, none of it about clubbing or photocopy paper.
I was very tickled when I left Bram Stoker's Dracula out for all to see. I got a nibble with that.
"Why are you reading Dracula?" she asked, a bit hesitantly.
I just gave the best Dorevitch look I could muster.
I love it Harker - hehehe - I will have to try that at the office!!!
I think this is very common - I thought I was the only one feeling like this - but this site has openened my eyes on more than one occasion that lots of people after cancer find feel that other people's trivial matters - which are overwhelmining important to them - are quite irritating.
I try to remember that I don't know what their stories are - I don't know what their struggles in life are - everyone has struggles - and we also have the knowledge that almost everyone in the future will face somesort of major struggle - just some earlier than others - then they too will gain the wisdom ................... but lordy it can be hard until they do !!!
Vinouche you are a very wise woman!!
I agree Ms Reena. Cancer Council and other organisations talk of a new normal after cancer treatment as it does change us, life changes, our priorities change. This would naturally include work and some people even choose to change their field of work or do move on due to the combination of office pettiness and not really liking their jobs.
In your situation you mention you like your job but need to deal with the pettiness and office politics. Perhaps try to identify staff that you do like and connect with and aim to build your working relationships with them and just be neutral and polite with the others especially with those you have to work with.
At the beginning of the year I resolved that if I felt another staff member didn't like me (after gathering some evidence of this, for example, never speaking to me first or showing an interest in me after I'd shown an interest in them, say hi, ask how important things are going in their lives and so forth) that for those I have to have a reasonable working relationship with I would say hi but not initiate chit chat and with those I don't have to work with not even bother to say hi unless they do. Having cancer has certainly flushed out who these people are as they haven't ever asked how I am managing treatment or recovered after surgery (with one person I'd asked how he was recovering from his wisdom teeth surgery) or simply showed more an interest in me as support as it can be hard for some to say anything about how we are going with the cancer.
Interesting that approach has helped me to notice the really nice people in the office as instead of trying to get on with and befriend everyone I now notice who does say hi and start up conversations and those are the people I want to encourage.
Thanks everyone. I realise that for things to change I have to change something so I will approach these situations and people who annoy me with a different mindset.I think a disadvantage to gaining wisdom through cancer in my 30's is that I want family, friends anyone and everyone to have this insight so that they can focus on the great things around them, but I know it is not up to me to do. All I can do is focus on what makes me happy and gravitate towards that.
p.s I think i'll take my copy of dracula into work and leave it casually laying around.
Dracula won't work in our Staff room as it a set text for study for Seniors.
ANy other suggestions? Petra King might be a little blunt perhaps?
Interesting how we have all had such simiarexperiences.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.