My colleagues hate me. I have been difficult to work with lately. This is due to a combination of reasons, but mostly because I’ve been there 5+ years and I struggle with the fact that I’m 32 and still a waitress. But that’s another story.
(I’m aware that hate is a very strong word and I do refrain from using it most of the time – it just applies here – I’m sorry if it bothers you.)
Things have gotten pretty bad. It has gained momentum and it feels now that no matter what I do, my intention is misunderstood and people are silently rolling their eyes at each other or snickering behind my back. It’s like everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and I am the one left out. There was one particular shift where the male runner went OFF at me, threatening me (!) and screaming obscenities for nothing and nobody batted an eyelash, not even the manager. This is unacceptable behaviour in my opinion. You can’t allow abuse like this to happen in a space you are meant to manage. I was extremely tearful for quite some time after that – but I had to suck it up and hold my head high and continue to serve my tables. It was really tough. The air was thick with animosity. This was an interesting turning point for me. It was where it really hit home that NOBODY there is my friend. It was a sort of rock bottom. Yet one thing I know about rock bottom? The only way from there is up.
It has been an extremely challenging time, going to a job that I hate to work amongst people who hate me. But I have learnt a few things during this trying time which I would like to share with you in the hopes that it will help you if you also feel unwelcome at work or have a colleague that you and/or others really don’t like.
To preface this, I will point out that I am well aware that my own character defects are creating and exacerbating this situation. I can list them here as I understand them in order for you to gain a better understanding of why I’m at where I’m at. Also, in listing these I am not by any means stating them as set in stone. I always aspire to change and to work on myself and a large part of this means letting go of those aspects of myself that do not serve me.
Number 1 – I am very sensitive and take things too personally. This is a big one. It is probably my biggest downfall at the moment. Nothing is ever personal, but we make it so. Offense is, in actual fact, a choice.
Number 2 – I have passive/aggressive tendencies. Instead of confrontation, I keep things bottled up and seethe silently about things that bother me. I am aware that this is extremely toxic yet I still find it very hard to speak about things as they arise.
Number 3 – Up until recent days, I have not been taking responsibility for my own life. Thus being ‘stuck’ in a job that shrinks me for so long. I have been subconsciously playing the blame game for years now – mostly towards my mother. That is slowly changing now as it (eventually) dawns on me that I have been responsible for my own happiness for over a decade now and blaming her for my insecurities, etc is literally handing over my personal power.
Number 4 – I tend to focus on the negative. This just creates more of the same!
Number 5 – I am very hard on myself. This in conjunction with caring too much what others think.. you can imagine the downward spiral of being one’s own worst enemy.
So I’ve certainly been learning lots about my shadow stuff during this process. On a more positive note, there is a blessing in everything, maybe especially in the negative stuff. A quote that has been reverberating through me over the past couple of days is:
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Possibly the most important lesson I’ve learnt is this:
If somebody is causing you pain, irritation and/or frustration THEY are in pain themselves! They do not need MORE pain and resistance from you; they need LOVE!!
We have all heard or read something like this somewhere before (I have plenty) but it has never hit home more than when I BECAME that person. My frustrations/passive aggression/mood swings at work are as a result of me being desperately unhappy with my life situation (blame game/not taking responsibility) and others’ bullying and ganging up against me is making it increasingly difficult to try and be a better person. Plus I’m taking everything so personally at the same time. It’s so hard! This being said, I know that it takes a near-saint to actually accomplish this. It is NOT easy to Love someone who you feel is a complete shit. But consider that it is their own deep suffering that makes them act this way, not to mention that this is only ONE tiny aspect of them. Bad behaviour does not make us fundamentally bad people. It just means we need healing. Here I will have to point out that I am being a total hypocrite right now. I really struggle with another one of our colleagues. It is unanimous amongst most of us that she is absolutely terrible to work with. (Yet the degree to which I allow her shit to get to me is probably directly related to my own shit.) On one level I see clearly that her own suffering is causing her to act this way, but damn! she makes it near-impossible to be nice to her. As probably the two least popular people there (for probably very similar reasons) you can imagine how the two of us can be at loggerheads. But even as I sit here writing this I am trying desperately to gain some understanding and compassion for her… and I come up empty. She’s awful. She’s a downright bitch. (And I’m a hypocrite).
Another positive that I am gaining from this seemingly negative experience is that I am developing a thicker skin, which is something I’ve sorely needed. On that particular shift I mentioned it really hit home that I needed to be my own best friend. I’ve relied too much on others’ approval for my self-worth. So when I didn’t get it, and it really hurt, I had to take a deep breath and Love Myself. This is probably the best decision one can make. Ever. Sometimes we need to realize and accept that Life Is Not Fair. Being at the receiving end of unfair treatment is helping me develop the skill of allowing and letting go. And to stop taking things personally. How people treat you is, after all, a reflection of their relationship with themselves. It has NOTHING to do with you!
Important Lesson number 2:
Everybody has light and dark within them.
Firstly I must observe and accept my own shadow stuff which seems to come out mostly in my workplace. This in turn reflects others’ darkness to me. This is NOT the whole picture! My colleagues might be seeing the shady part of me – but I know there is SO much more to me. We are multi-faceted beings. And so I might be seeing their shitty sides too (because they don’t like me) but I have the opportunity here to accept responsibility and forgive. And know that they have goodness in them too. Even if it’s my tendency to want to label them as assholes as a defense mechanism. I can’t tell you how well I am doing at this. It certainly is a work in progress. But I can only start with me. Love ALL of me. The good and the bad. And when I observe something in another, like one colleague’s tendency to contradict herself, and change her behaviour when it suits her, I have to consider that I do it too. And then Love it All. Love heals.
And then lastly (for now) what I have learned from this experience is this:
Do not allow yourself to be influenced by what others say about people. Get to know them yourself first and then draw your own conclusions.
Now and again we get a newby. A new waitress or, most recently, a new manager. Before long, this new person also starts giving me a different vibe, for no apparent reason, and I know it’s because of what others say about me. Unfortunately a lot of us are easily influenced like this. We want to fit in. So when others say something about a certain person, we start seeing it too. Of course I am not speaking for everyone.. I certainly intend to not listen to shit-talking about others anymore. Because I know how it hurts and I know that everyone deserves a fair chance. People can change but only if we give them the room to.
Things are slowly changing. I am in a much better head and heart space. I’m learning to live in the moment, accept and Love my life and myself and take responsibility. Make the changes! Start saving money to go travelling! I intend to speak to the new manager soon. I need to be there for another few months at least and I could do with some support. Ironically I really like him. He’s the freshest thing that place has seen in a long time. I think we can work really well together, if he can get over this perspective he has of me. Wish me luck!
If Life hands you lemons, make apple juice… and have everyone wonder how the fuck you did it!!