Saturday, 5 September 2015

Office Politics: In Which I Learn a Valuable Life Lesson



"A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” 

- Roald Dahl, The Twits.

The above is one my favourite quotes. And I think it's true in reverse, too. It's not just something your mum says to make you feel better when people are mean; the people who make the petty, bitchy comments are the ones who look like the arseholes.

Nobody's perfect, obviously. And I'm definitely not. I've done and said stupid things in the heat of the moment/in arguments that I didn't mean and hated myself afterwards but, in general, I do really try my hardest to consider other people's feelings and just be NICE. So, when other people don't, it does catch me kinda off guard.

Without going into the ins and outs of it, on Monday one of my colleagues sent a really bitchy email about me to someone else in the company, and then forwarded it to the other 2 people in our department. There's only 4 of us. Unbeknownst to her, clearly, I have access to one of their emails from when I used to assist her on her days off and saw it come up. And was able to read it.

This woman is twice my age, and I have genuinely been nothing but nice to her. I talk to her all the time, we laugh, we get on etc etc. I actually thought we got on really well. But what she said was completely unnecessary and completely pointless. And from how the message was phrased, it really made me feel like people had been discussing me behind my back. And who knows, maybe they have.

I was actually pretty upset, but managed to hold it together until after 5 when I swiftly rang my dad to wail and explain the story. "She's jealous," was his simple response. "You're young and you're about to leave for an amazing new job. And she's staying there."

Whether that's true or not, and at the risk of sounding all 'holier than thou', I really just can't get my head around what would drive someone to do something so petty and pathetic just for the pure sake of it. Like, how can you be so friendly to someone's face and then turn on them in a heartbeat to score some bff points with someone else? I just don't get it. And, consequently, haven't really known how to act. Luckily, I have this week and I'm currently sat in a warm woolly fleece, drinking coffee in Ireland as I type. But for the rest of week, everything just felt so fake. I can't really hold grudges and, tbf, I'd only suffer myself if I sulked had noone to talk to. So I just got on with my work and chatted back merrily when anyone made conversation. Although no more of my cereal bars for you, mate.

But it's just really sad that this sort of thing still happens. And that I genuinely had no idea. I know other people who have had pretty negative experiences at work, especially with middle aged women. Who've been blanked, and literally spat at over nothing. So in comparison, I haven't had it too bad. But I really thought bitchiness and kinda, well, bullying, was something people grew out of. You're meant to hit 25 and be a total proper grown up; with all the maturity and all the answers. Right? But I'm 25 in about 6 weeks, and still feel like a kid whose managed to blag her way into a super cool grown up party and any minute now, someone is going to march over, snatch the beer out of my hand and shout NO, YOU, GET OUT. 

I suppose that's what being a grown up is. Everyone eventually reaches an age where they're like "right, time to be an adult now", and acts accordingly. Not doing all the things that are 'too young' etc etc are conscious, and reluctant, choices. Thinking everyone has it so sorted, when actually everyone else is doing exactly the same. Everyone is just playing at being a grown up, pretending we've got it down, and wearing the odd pair of sensible shoes because well, that's what people our age DO. And, occasionally, people slip up and their inner 14 year old comes out to play.

Anyway, I could confront it and maybe if I didn't only have 2 weeks left there, I would. But for now, I'm simply going to rise above it. I spent about 24 hours feelings shitty and incredulous, then suddenly woke up thinking "Hey, I've got something that someone else is actually envious of. I've got it pretty good." And instead of feeling sad and jaded, I felt positive. Yeh, I'm really happy and I'd like to share that happiness with the people around me, but we can't have it all. I feel a little bit worried that maybe my innocent excitement might have been wrongly interpreted as me rubbing it in people's faces and thinking I'm oh-so-superior, but all it was was just that - me being excited and not being able to keep it to myself. I know I haven't done anything wrong. And this lesson really, really makes me want to check my behaviour, read into everyone's actions, and start questioning whether any office friendships I have or am ever likely to make will be genuine.

But why the fuck should I??! If people want to gang up on the youngest and snipe behind her back, fucking let them. I'll be nice, and I'll be me. And people who make unwarranted and unnecessary comments can be the ones who need to questions their actions. And be left looking stupid.

CHIN UP. The end is nigh. Not everyone's going to have something nice to say, no matter how nice you are to them. It happens. It's probably going to happen again. But as long as I'm happy who I am and how I treat people, who the fuck cares. I'm going to eat a cheese scone now. [[insert blonde hand-waving emoji here]]




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