Being anxious means that I worry about pretty much everything. What I worry about the most however is ‘Is what I am doing right?’, ‘Is what I am doing good?’ and ‘What will people think of me?’.
Working in and having a knack for marketing means that I have a good understanding of what my target market wants. Being a content writer, I am always aware of which tone I am writing in, how to grab the specified audience and things to say to please them. Knowing what people want comes quite naturally. But it is because I know what people want, that I am very aware of what I do in relation to that.
I think this is where a lot of my anxiety comes from.
I know social norms, what behaviour is accepted by society, and because I know how judgmental a lot of people can be when these norms are broken, I persistently worry that I will break them, and when I feel like I do, or I will, I go into meltdown.
The problem is that these norms are actually highly subjective. While I can write to please a target market as a whole, there will always be someone who dislikes it. And it is near impossible to appeal to all target markets at once. Therefore, I can never please everybody. However, for some reason, this is what I try to do.
I once started a job, and on my second morning, a man called me into my office. I hadn’t met him yet, so very politely I said, ‘Sorry we haven’t met, I’m Tash. What’s your name?’ It was the way I had addressed everybody else when I had met them, and everybody else told me their name. Except for him.
‘What do you mean, what is my name?’ He shouted. ‘You should always learn the names of your bosses when you start at a firm.’ He proceeded to have a go at me for the next couple of minutes. Halfway through the lecture, the office manager walked in. My ‘boss’ turned to him and said ‘This girl doesn’t know my name! Why does she not know my name?’
The office manager was startled, told me his name and that he was the founding member of the company. His name was part of the company’s. So of course I knew his name, I just didn’t know his face. And how was I meant to? Maybe he expected me to find out, but he wasn’t in on the day that I’d started and nobody had introduced us. Was I meant to wait and try to figure out his name over the next few weeks?
Obviously, it was a culture clash. As a working class Essex girl, I am pretty upfront. If I don’t know someone’s name, I ask what it is. This guy was much more conservative, from a more upper class background. He owned the company. People should know his name, and when they don’t it is an insult. Me saying ‘what’s your name’ was interpreted by him as ‘who the fuck are you?!’.
Of course, I wasn’t to know he would take offence, and as I was bought up, I did perfectly the right thing. However, this remains to be one of the most embarrassing and humiliating moments of my life. I still shudder to think about it. I regret it so much.
Even though I know I shouldn’t worry about this, I am overly conscious about asking people their names. Even though whatever I do will never please everybody, I still can’t help but worry about it. For some reason, my logic just doesn’t marry up with my feelings anymore. I know it's irrational and impossible, but I just can't help it. I feel like I will always worry.