Friday, February 27, 2015

Ladders

Beware. Wordy, motivational type post ahead.

Last week something really struck a nerve with me. I hate using the word "unfair" because it sounds so sophomoric, but something really, really unfair happened to my friend. I'm not going to go into it because it's not my story to tell, but it got me thinking.

To vaguely describe the circumstance - she bore the brunt of someone else's bad judgment. It can be argued that this other person was trying to save face for herself - acting blameless in a situation where she definitely needs to take responsibility.

And in the midst of all this I went to get my coffee, and in the cafe there's a sign with this quote:




This quote. It led me to reflect on some stuff that happened during college, and reminded me that I never, ever want people to think of me as a "ladder climber". I don't want to be that person who steps all over other people to get where I think I want to be. I always joke by saying "I don't care enough about anything to __________," but I really don't care enough about anything to walk all over other people to get there. And I feel like most people who have been walked on at some point in their lives can relate.

Let's take the college example. I helped start a group on campus with another girl - we knew each other from class and that was our common ground. Over the two-or-so years that we interacted with oneanother, I grew to really dislike her. There are people who still call us "friends" I certainly don't, and never really did, consider her a friend...but whatever...the things that go on when no is looking, eh? Friends should be on equal footing with one another. If someone feels the need to voice their superiority to you - however cloaked it may be - that person is likely not your friend.

Anyways - I think a bit of perceived competition caused her to see me as a threat, and before I knew it I was getting angry calls from her at 8 or 9 am yelling at me for having not done some innocuous task. Or for not doing something that I couldn't do. For example, our school had rules about booking rooms, and if you didn't have a certain title you couldn't do it - she was the group president (that's another story) so she had to do the room booking. Yet cue an early call about how I'm useless and not pulling my weight and how she has to do everything! There were some other examples, but I definitely got told that I slacked off and provided nothing useful to the group, regardless of what I did.

All because we applied for the same scholarship (which, ps, neither of us got) and she (I think) saw me as a threat. It wasn't until the scholarship that she became outwardly hostile toward me, and actively started putting me down. It sucked, but at the same time I realized I could have a say. We were on a peer-level, and one day, as she was bellowing at me through the phone while I was trying to get ready for class, I realized I could stop her in her tracks. I said, "S, I don't have time for this bullshit," and hung up on her. That was the last time she called to bitch me out about anything. The cold-shoulder behavior continued, but I found the hilarity in it. She saw me as a threat, and decided to bring out her claws. I decided to ignore her put-downs and focus on what I had done well, as well as the humor in her attempts to shame me.



Indeed, I find that the best solution when being walked on is not to lash out, but to get a good chuckle at how serious other people are about their lives and ambitions. It doesn't mean you shouldn't have ambitions, but it begs the question: How swept up in all your own stuff do you have to be to not see if you are hurting or distressing people around you with how you're approaching those ambitions?

That's wordy. I just mean...is your life so important that you need to harm those around you? Are you so insecure that you must make others feel bad about themselves?

Now, none of this means "take it lying down." You should absolutely, 100% stand up for yourself. That's what I did the day I hung up on Miss Moody. It was what I did when I showed her the paperwork that said (paraphrasing) "President or Treasurer must book rooms." I just countered her claims of laziness with proof of what I'd been doing, which she, in turn, had been ignoring.

Make noise, and make yourself heard.



Listen to this cat! Though finnicky creatures they may be. (Although let's be honest, a positive reaction - as opposed to talking down to and blaming the other party - is best. But they should still know they share blame, even if you never explicitly say so.)

Depending on the situation, standing up for yourself may be hard work, and it may be time consuming (I know it has been for my friend), but it's important work as well. If you say something it's out there - now let's say that person decides to walk on or place the blame for their inaction or failure on someone else. Well...you once said something. And now they've said something. The effect may not be instantaneous, and you will probably never get an apology from the person who walked all over you, but one day it will come back to them.


I really have been going on for quite a while now. But I guess my main message is have your ambitions - be creative and cunning and try to achieve them. But be cognizant of the effect it is having on the people around you.

Because if you're at the top and no one under you likes you, you're probably not going to have a very fun time up there.

(Also boys and men, etc. You get it.)
Peace out, everyone! Hopefully you'll hear from me again this weekend!

x


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