Joining The Crowd

Photo by Mike Chai on

I’ve always struggled to fit in.  Truth be told, I didn’t want to.  I had my own agenda from the time I was a kid and I thought I new it all and that the goal was to meet the goal as quickly as possible.  I dealt with a lot of loss, a lot of abuse, a lot of being taken advantage of very early on in my life so the walls came up and anyone who didn’t want to play the game clearly had designs on using me.  I never learned the social cues of working with people because I was the one who always ended up doing the assignment anyway.  If it was supposed to be a certain way, that is what we needed to do and I kept the ship right on course—for everyone.  After a time, that became the expectation: we can do whatever we want and screw it up beyond repair and Elizabeth will fix it.  It’s exhausting.

As I work through the journey of self-discovery and leadership, I’m learning a lot and it is humbling.  It isn’t about pulling the reins all the time.  It’s about maintaining course while allowing the other influences to shape and mold the course.  That’s a really fine line to walk at times.  I have a really soft heart and I have employees who genuinely have been taken advantage of and they need a lot of love.  But I swung too far and allowed them too much space to the point work wasn’t getting done—I was left holding the bag again.  I found myself angry and the old rigidity, not far under the surface, reared its ugly head.  We needed some course correction, that is true, but I didn’t see how it impacted the team.

I care a lot and I am highly sensitive.  I take a lot personally and I feel even more is a reflection of me.  I can’t control how people perceive me, no one can, but it still mattered to me what people thought especially when they thought I wasn’t doing my job.  Working like mad to get multiple teams stood up, doing it alone because no one else knew how to do it, but being told I wasn’t working because I wasn’t on the other projects nearly broke me.  I wanted nothing to do with my team then.  I was SO hurt and it left me unable to do parts of my job because I no longer knew what to do.  Even worse, the team all started having lunch together and leaving me out, not even inviting me and I felt like that little kid again, being left alone to do the work while they all had fun.

But after a while, I managed to get my teams up and running (they understood where I was coming from and they started pulling their weight) and my boss actually told me she never expected that type of turn around and she was really happy.  She saw the effort.  For me, it wasn’t about the recognition of getting the work done—it was about understanding what actually had to be done to get there.  It was about seeing the shit show I was given and how I had to wade out of that while the rest of them were already on a silver platter.  Once things calmed down, my boss asked one day if I would eat with them.  I accepted.  I stayed quiet most of the time and there were still things that didn’t sit right with me, but I sat back and listened.    

My boss made a comment about being happy I started eating lunch with them and learning more about them.  if I’m honest the ego still rears its head and I feel like I am owed an apology—which in most cases, I do think people would agree.  But I’m learning there comes a time to let things go and this is probably one of them.  It feels good to know someone actually understands what is going on because, again, this wasn’t about accolades or praise—this was about understanding and being seen for what was really happening.  All we need is to be understood.  Sometimes that isn’t about continuing to scream our stories—it’s about joining in and listening and finding a connection.  Sometimes if the path isn’t winding the way you want it to, you need to follow it any way.  Allow it to change you a bit.  Then you can end up in the place you were meant to be.

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