During the first day of my internship training, there was a girl in my group who made it her mission to point out to me how “fake” she thought I was. She didn’t say it to me privately, instead, she timed it so everyone else in the group would hear her opinion of me by saying it out loud during one of our quick 10 minute breaks. The girl was not a stranger to me because we had started the same internship program from the very beginning. Her sudden hostility towards me was strange, super random and I was left confused for the remainder of that training day. I had no idea what I could have done to cause her to say that and I couldn’t recall ever being out of line or disrespectful towards her. In order to hide my embarrassment and try to be polite, I let out a nervous laugh because I was trying to brushed it off as if she were telling me an insider joke.
Thinking back to that moment, I was so naive to social cues and didn’t realize when someone was being out of line towards me. I let her continually name call me, although it really upset me yet I didn’t comment back or bother to ask her why she was doing it. Honestly, I thought that I was being the “bigger person” and tried to not let it show that it was affecting me! Needless to say, I kept a fair distance from her and would try to avoid situations where I had to have a conversation other then work. Part of me couldn’t tell the difference between a joke or if it was a direct personal attack and not knowing the difference made me feel insecure, especially when I was around her.
So before I get to my point, I want to share another more recent story of a male coworker who consistently had a snarky comeback whenever I would attempt a causal work conversation. His attitude and mannerisms towards me would feel boorish, meanwhile other coworkers would have nothing but praise for his helpfulness and goodness. I took his animosity personally because it felt like it was gradually getting more indifferent and hostile. Being around him was like walking on eggshells and I would purposely stay clear of his path (although it was really difficult because we all had to work in a tiny office). I wouldn’t ask him for anything or bother with advice and I dreaded being left alone with him whenever the other coworkers left the office during lunch breaks or for any other reason.
One work day I had decided that I had had enough of his toxic attitude and dished it right back to him, exactly how he would towards me. When I looked at his face, his eyes were a little wide and he had a bit of a smirk. He then said, “finally, she speaks for herself.” In that moment, I didn’t know what exactly he meant but after that one comeback, he started being friendlier. Shooting for conversations rather then building negative tension. It seemed like suddenly, this male co worker wanted to have a decent working relationship… go fucken figure.
What I failed to realize was that, ultimately, it didn’t matter what these people said or even how they behaved towards me. What was important was how I responded and handled those different personalities and how much I would let them affect me or influence me personally. If I would have been self-aware, I would have been able to pick up on those subtle shady cues a lot quicker rather then letting my personal feelings decipher what every interaction meant. Here are a list of a few traits I wish I would have learned earlier in life, a set of traits that wouldn’t have allowed for these scenarios to play out the way that they did.
1. self awareness
to have self-awareness is an advantage over those who do not have it or don’t even know what it means in the long term (ei. me). I believe that self awareness is a skill because it means that you understand and trust yourself without a doubt and can’t be easily swayed or influenced. Its a skill build on balancing confidence and vulnerability together although each trait can cancel each other out. It may sound easy, but this is a mindset that is difficult to master because your exposing yourself to the world around you and therefore potentially having others judge you harshly.
boldness is having the ability to be forward and intentional with whomever it may be about whatever you personally believe in. Sharing with them your specific interest without fearing that you won’t be accepted somehow because others might not agree with you. I feel like deep down we all want to get some kind of approval from those around us and maybe even more from people who may not even know us directly.
honesty, the key ingredient for authenticity because it flourishes when you stop lying about who you are and about who your pretending to become. There is nothing wrong about having aspirations of a future better you. But by humbling yourself to see where you are at that moment, where you are mentally and physically, starts the process of self reflection. A quick google search defines self reflection as meditation or serious thought about ones character, actions and motives. From my personal experiences, self reflection is one of the greatest gifts you can give your future self by taking a little bit of time to think about you. I know it sounds selfish but if your rebuilding, the first thing every good home needs is a solid foundation.
by learning to trust your actions, your choices become more deliberate and thats helpful because there is no way for sure to know what the opportunity costs are of every option available since time and resources are always limited. Trust can go hand in hand with intuition or that “gut feeling” that we all experience from time to time. Figuring out a way to let go of the expectations from others around us jumpstarts the ways in which we learn to depend on ourself and ultimately trust oneself.
I feel like in our society, being talented isn’t enough anymore but whats important and valuable is being authentic because it allows others to connect with you on a personal level other than the work you produce. By connecting with you, it means they might like you and want to continue supporting you by watching your instagram stories or sharing your tweets. It all kind of comes full circle and with all the different options of connecting with people, your personality will be the dividing force between your work and everybody else.
Looking back, I would have responded differently…