The other day I was on the train on my way home from work, when the woman standing next to me looked at her phone to read a new message she had just received. She had just gotten a text from her boss/manager. I’m not sure who it was, but from the text it was clear that the man in question was her superior. He had texted her to tell her she had done a good job at work today and that he was impressed by her reaction and determination to what I can only assume was a difficult situation. He complemented her and thanked her for her help. (Sidenote: I don’t know what happened. I’m making these assumptions based on the texts he send and the text she replied with.) Now, I assumed the woman would be happy with this kind text, but what happened next fascinated me. The woman started writing her reply and for the next five minutes I just watched as she rewrote the text about ten times before sending it.
In these five short minutes, I couldn’t look away from the screen. Not because I was fascinated by the text itself, but because I somehow felt connected to the woman’s doubts and insecurities. Apparently, the situation at work had been really difficult for the woman. In her reply, she was trying to explain how the situation had exhausted her and how much effort it had taken her to resolve the problem. She kept trying to explain how she felt, but deleted every sentence because it just didn’t feel right. In the beginning she started by thanking her boss for the compliment and the kind words, but she then couldn’t find the right words to express how bad she felt. The second attempt started with her immediately telling her boss this had been too much for her to handle, but she quickly deleted that text too. The third an fourth attempt went similarly. She would write an entire sentence and would immediately delete it. After a while she started a sentence and stuck with it, but started making so many changes a completely new sentence eventually appeared. This kept going for a while, until finally she just gave up, wrote the text and send it without thinking about it.
You might be wondering why I’m writing about this. Why would anyone care about this woman trying to write a text to her boss? Why did I care?
Well, because I’ve been in her shoes so many times I’ve lost count. I’ve rewritten so many texts and emails and have deleted so many words and sentences I think I must have used all the words in the dictionary by now. The moment I start writing an important email or an emotional text, I’m already thinking about the reply. My brain is already one step ahead and starts analyzing every word.
Do I come across to aggressive or not aggressive enough? Does this reply even make sense or am I just being stupid? Do they even care? Am I over thinking this? Will they understand what I’m trying to say? Should I even write this message to begin with?
After a while it gets too exhausting and I just finish the email or text and press send. I just hope for the best and 9 out of 10 times everything works out fine. But how much time have I wasted by rewriting every word?
The first text the woman wrote in reply to her boss was perfect. She expressed her gratitude for his kind words, but was honest about how the situation had affected her. The words were everything they needed to be, but her head got in the way.
I guess the real reason I’m writing this post is because I don’t want to let my head get in the way anymore.