Today at work in my shiny office has felt like being back at school. Nobody picked on me, or called me a square or anything, (although I did eat my lunch on my own, what with being a contractor and having no friends), but I did finish my work rather more quickly than I was meant to.
This used to happen to me a lot at school, particularly in maths lessons. I would rush through as quickly as I could, without sacrificing accuracy of course, purely for that look of surprise and admiration, tinged with annoyance, that my teacher would give me as I shot my hand up halfway through a lesson.
“I’ve finished Miss!” I would exclaim, trying to sound casual, but pink cheeked with pride. “What shall I do now?”
“Well done!” the teacher would say, as the other kids turned around in their seats to shoot me filthy looks, and the pinkness deepened. “You can go on and do the additional questions at the end of the chapter.”
“I’ve done those already too!” I’d counter. Seriously, it’s a wonder I wasn’t ritually beaten by my classmates every lunchtime. I must have been so irritating. It’s probably because I spent most of my breaks in places the cool kids wouldn’t think to look, like the library, or in one of the classrooms, volunteering to help sharpen pencils.
Then would come a few minutes of hassle on the part of the teacher, where they had to find extra work for me.
I don’t know why I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy the fact that I’d finished, but there is something in me that just can’t bear not having anything to do, especially if it’s on work time.
I’m the same even now. The difference is though that when I get things done too quickly, I’m just upsetting the schedules, and I don’t want to be that annoying, blushing pre-teen anymore, desperate to prove I’m the best and the quickest.
That’s a lie. Of course I want to be the best and the quickest. Only now I’ve learnt that this isn’t always the best way to make friends, and I do my best to rein it in. I’ve learnt that it is possible to be good at what you do, and fast too, without having to stick your hand up and draw attention to it.
Being back working in an office has been a useful learning curve for me, reminding me the value of quality of quantity, and forcing me to slow down a little bit, edit my work*, and make it the best it can be, rather than dashing off something in record time to please the teacher.
Because no one likes the square do they?