We go through cycles in life where things seem on the uptick for a while and then they go down. Sometimes they stay down for a while. If that is true for each of us we have to accept it is true for everyone as well. Recently work has taken another little turn. We are all overworked and overwhelmed and we are all responding in different ways. Recently one of the newer team members has taken an active role with some new projects we have and it was brought to my attention that this person (and one other) have some feelings about me not being involved. This one person in particular has even taken to sending me emails with direction when I’ve clearly been uninformed this individual has this “boss” role over me. I was under the impression we are equals—we have the same title. So the conversation with my actual boss implied heavily that there are some of us not doing enough because we don’t volunteer for these projects. In this case, I felt the need to defend myself because the old people-pleasing habits came out—all because this one person felt the need to feel important.
The truth of the matter is I have a different interpretation of the assignment. I took things at face value and they unwound to a point where it truthfully didn’t make sense to me. I’ve done what I can to learn but it isn’t something I do every day. I was hired for a different role and then multiple departments were given to me, so this is a realm I am trying to stay afloat, but there are aspects I simply do not understand. Even if it’s explained to me multiple times, the problem is it still isn’t part of my day to day so it doesn’t stick. Regardless, there is a gross misunderstanding of what I do. My boss said that she thinks it will be valuable to explain the day to day to everyone—which made me angry because I’m in the position to justify my work. My boss should know what I’m doing and I do not keep it a secret.
There is a common misconception that we are responsible for how people perceive us. Nothing about that is true, nor is it possible. It implies we have the power to alter/control other people’s opinions. I think we are well into an age where we can put the onus of how people treat us or see us back on them. I recently heard an audio (I apologize, it wasn’t credited so if you know who it is, let me know) that shifted this perception: “I am not intimidating, you are intimidated, I don’t take up too much space, you’re used to people playing small. My inner light isn’t too bright, you’re just used to dimming your own. I am not mean or aggressive, I am honest and assertive and that makes you uncomfortable. I do not make you uncomfortable, my presence challenges your comfort. None of that is mine.” Now, I don’t claim that we have zero input in how people perceive us. But this takes the responsibility of their perception off of us entirely if we feel the need to explain.
We are taught to play a role and how we are supposed to act in certain circumstances and we accept the ridicule or the judgement of others if we don’t live up to that behavior. There comes a point when we are simply done defending our day to day existence. If you don’t understand something, it is your responsibility to ask questions and figure it out. This is about our self-perception and accepting ownership over what is ours versus what is someone else’s. I am not responsible for you and what you think of me. You ARE responsible for recognizing how you treat me because of the IDEA you have of me. And if that boundary continues to be violated then it is time for us to either have a conversation or go separate ways. We can’t live our lives defending who we are, especially in a work environment. We have a job to do, not popularity to win. So I leave that responsibility with you. I take mine for me and encourage you to do the same.