I felt rather out of my depth at work today. I was on the library issue desk alone quite a bit and some questions and issues came up that I was not entirely sure how to deal with. Sometimes they were new problems I had not experienced before, sometimes I had been told what to do, but I did not remember what to do properly, generally regarding things that you only really learn by doing, which can be problematic if they are situations that only arise on rare occasions (e.g. students needing to reset their passwords). As a general theme underlying several of the problems, I know there are times to enforce the rules strictly and other times when it is appropriate to look the other way or even actively to be lenient, but I struggle to tell the two apart. As a rule, I tend to be rule-based (one of my borderline Asperger’s traits, or perhaps a kabbalistic indication that I come from the side of gevurah), but sometimes I over-compensate by becoming too lenient. Lack of confidence can also lead to excessive leniency as a way of avoiding confrontation, which is problematic, particularly when my colleagues are able to enforce the rules more strictly. It does not help that I am not always 100% sure of the rules myself, particularly when faced with new situations that I have not been taught about.
I suppose the takeaway points from today is that (a) nothing I did was catastrophically wrong, (b) I usually found a work-around or managed to find one of my colleagues to help me if I was really stuck, (c) I am getting better at being assertive and (d) I think I can remember some at least of the things I was taught today, as well as my plans for strategies with dealing with frequent difficult requests e.g. the frequent request to borrow pens – I intuited that I probably should not do this, but lent the pen anyway as I was not sure why I should not and lacked the courage for a confrontation, having forgotten that we sell them. I now plan in future to suggest students buy a pen from us instead, particularly as we sell them dirt cheap. I’m not sure what to do at our other campus, though, where we don’t sell stationery. Not lending a pen seems petty, but when you consider how many people ask to borrow pens, that’s a lot of ink even if they remember to return the pen.
The other work-related problem was my realization that I may not have been prioritizing my work correctly since starting in April and indeed, that I have been neglecting certain aspects of the job entirely, albeit in part because I had been led to believe that other aspects were more important and because the relevant books had not been given to me. There is not really a lot I can do about this, except to mention it to my boss when we have a meeting on Monday about one of my main tasks (one I have been concentrating on). I have only been there two months, so I can not really have neglected anything too badly.
An amusing thing at work was getting invited to an Eid party by one of my Muslim colleagues. I politely refused. I think he thought that I was worried about antisemitism, but I was more concerned about halakhic implications of going to a religious event and also by my anxieties about going to new places, meeting new people and being around big crowds (again borderline Asperger’s symptoms and social anxieties). I did manage to have my photo taken yesterday without shaking and I have generally been able to talk to people without shaking even when nervous or stressed (things that in the past have triggered shaking when suffering from medication side-effects), which indicates that the nervous shaking I experienced recently is not as bad as it has been in the past, although I have emailed my psychiatrist about it.
I have now been living alone in my own flat for a year, which is impressive when I was not sure I was going to make it through even a few months. It is doubly impressive given that now I am paying a lot more of the rent and not relying so much on my parents now that I have a new job with longer hours. In theory I could just about manage to support myself without my parents now for the first time in my life, albeit with no real money for luxuries or savings. I am also glad to say that I generally feel confident about the kashrut of my flat, without the OCD worries that I had failed to kasher it correctly or had managed to treif it up that tormented me for the first eight or nine months here.
I just finished the second draft of the fifth chapter of my non-fiction Doctor Who book, which pleases me no end. So far I have written about 67,000 words: second drafts of chapters one through five, first drafts of chapters six through fourteen, with a fifteenth chapter still to be written (and possibly more, if it takes me so long to finish that they make a lot more episodes in the meantime!). I have got a long way to go before I am finished, though, largely because of the sheer number of Doctor Who episodes to re-watch as research. I hope to binge watch when I have a month off work in the summer, as I’m not going on holiday. It will still take a long time, though, which I suppose is the problem with writing about something with such a long history. I lack the time to watch a lot when I am working and anyway I generally feel uncomfortable about watching a lot of TV, or doing any relaxing activity for long periods.
Sometimes I wonder if the Doctor Who book is a worthwhile project to pursue. I am not sure if the people at my shul (synagogue) and shiur (religious class) would approve, or even understand. Writing about a television programme, and a children’s (OK, family) one at that is an odd thing to do and I can see why people (especially in my somewhat Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) shul and shiur) would see it as bittul Torah, a waste of time that should be spent in religious study. In my defence, I don’t think that I am such a tzaddik (saint) that I can realistically spend all my non-working time in prayer and Torah study and if I need a hobby, then tinkering with this book is a harmless one. The Orthodox world and especially the Charedi world can be sceptical of secular culture and of all the media, television is probably viewed most critically, but I think there is something positive in writing something that expresses admiration for art that has made me happy in the hope that my writing will help others find meaning and beauty in it too (and while I hesitate to call all Doctor Who artistic and beautiful, I think some of it, old and new, is). I’m not sure I could really express that in religious terms though. Maybe there’s a Hevria article in that…