There are things in life you have control over and things you don’t. I am going to go over two things that are related to each other. One you do have control of, the second you don't, unless you're ok with not being true to yourself.
Introducing today’s topic: Committees and cliques.
The general gist of committees is from an interview on CBC radio with Anne Perry. I’ve taken a brief remark she made and expanded it. My thanks to her for opening my ears to my own committee!
Everyone has a committee in their head. That committee is made up of people like: that teacher that was mean to you, the one kid that would invite everyone but you to their birthday party, that person who broke your heart, the boss that continually passed you over and promoted employees with nowhere near your skills…those people are all in there. And they’re pretty quiet, too, until you want to try something new. Or if you’ve met someone you’re interested in. Or you're taking a leap of faith. Really, they’re quiet until you do anything that lack of confidence can undermine. And THEN they’re busy! “You can’t do that, you’re too old. And too stupid! He/she will never notice you, you’re too plain. Too tall/short/fat/skinny/normal/odd. Anything that they can say to shift your standing ground to quicksand, and they’re on it. It’s up to you whether you listen to those voices. The less you listen, the quieter they get. If you start listening, they get louder until they are running your whole life, and not in your best interests, either!
I am doing better with this one. I don’t listen to that committee very often, although I know they are still there. They tried to convince me not to back to school, but I have a loving husband and family with much louder voices, so I’m back in school. At 51!
The cliques…now that’s a different story. We’ve seen them in elementary school. We’ve seen them in high school, certainly. I had lots of friends in high school so not being one of the popular girls wasn’t an issue for me, most thankfully. But for a lot of people not being in the popular group can make for some pretty depressing years.
This continues into college, but you can bury your nose in your books or sports or special interest groups and generally find a place where you DO fit in and make those years work for you.
It can be a bit of a surprise that this does not stop in the work place. This in no longer a surprise to me, anymore than it is to you, rather more of a disappointment, but goodness: the first time I didn’t get a promotion I was qualified for because the person hiring didn’t like me…yeah, that was weird. I read this somewhere a few months ago “for a second there I couldn’t remember if I was in elementary school or high school and then it hit me: I’m at work”. I’m sure you’ve all seen this scenario play out at the office, whether it affects your job directly or not.
The thing that did manage to surprise me is this: it never stops! I was out last night having supper with my Mister’s grandparents (yup, they are still here, hale and hearty!), listening to the old folks chatter at the surrounding tables. And guess what? Yeah, no surprises for guessing correctly: old age homes still have rivalries and “in” groups. If they were more spry they could have done a bit from West Side Story and it would have fit right it. I'm beginning to wonder if there is an in underground crowd at the cemetary!
Being in an in group is not really something you can control. Well, perhaps you can, a little: when I missed that first promotion I knew that if I would just join the party crowd I would be part of the in group and I’d be fine. But that wasn't me. Not to mention that I was a single mom with a baby and a toddler! Out for beers after work three nights out of five was just not in my budget or timetable even if that was something that appealed to me.
So I didn’t change who I was. Still haven’t. But I have looked around my office and taken a good look at who is in and who is not. And you know what? The “not” crowd? They’re pretty decent people. Proud to be a not!