This sounds so high school and petty, but the other month I learned that some of my Azerothian friends were talking about me, and not in very kind ways. Now I know how they really feel, and I’m left with the tough choice of losing out on everything we’ve been working toward: if we don’t get through Garrosh, I won’t get the wolf mount, and now new information has come out that the heirlooms are going away, too. Do I suck it up, keep my mouth shut, and stick with them though I know their opinions of me are negative? I thought they were cool, that they understood children, spouses, jobs, and other things come first. I know this is just a ‘game,’ but since it requires hours, communication, and dedication, I feel terrible. Matty, what should I do?
Distressed in Darnassus
Oh my dear, I totally understand. Your letter brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes I laugh to myself instead of a “days played” counter, we should have a ‘tears cried’ counter. As always, all I can do is share a personal story, and then you are free to choose your own path:
A few years ago, one of my closest friends told me what my new boss thought about me, that her first (and lasting to this day) impression is that I am “over-confident.” I have never confronted my boss about this directly, because I don’t want to betray my friend’s confidence. Some would think that it would have been better not to know what my boss thinks about me, but ultimately, it’s been my best defense. Even in a meeting this past week, her body language told me everything: she put both hands, palms down on the table, arms akimbo, and pushed her face forward and said, “Is there anything you think you CAN’T do right?” when I said one area on my evaluation was misjudged, and I brought mounds of evidence to support it. But I was not given the chance. Instead, I got teary and said, “Yes, there are many things I can’t do well, and many areas where I have seen I need to grow and learn.” Now, to be fair and full disclosure: I have said this many, many times. It goes unheard. I was an ART MAJOR for goodness sakes! One of my greatest skills, ironically, is knowing when something can be better, looking at things through a critical eye, and reflecting upon strengths and weaknesses. When I told this story to my book club friends this week, they immediately said, “Get out of there.” When someone is incapable of understanding you, your gifts, your contributions, and yes, weaknesses, and devalue you, it’s a terrible, intractable situation. Fortunately, I have many allies who do see me and my contributions for their worth, and my loyalties and focus are for them.
Of course–this over-thinking brings me back to her opinion. What is so bad about being “over-confident” anyway? Well, over-confidence means hubris, a blind eye to faults and mistakes. This is laughably not who I am. But it does bring up a subtext that is crazy: underlying sexism. I guarantee if I was male, that never would have been her assessment of me. But that is a battle for another day.
Ultimately, am I glad my friend told me what my boss thought about me? Yes–because without the truth, I would not find my resolve to continue to do the things well that I do, and work on the things I need to work on because they are the RIGHT THINGS TO DO. And I mean morally right, not “right” in that I never make mistakes, right from wrong. My boss is by her nature one of the most competitive persons I know, so much so this fixed personality trait has blinded her and made her sometimes an ineffectual leader. But there are others who have taken up that banner; that is not my fight. Am I honest with her? Yes. After I dry my tears. My kryptonite is confrontational people, but I’d rather deal with something head-on than being bitten by a snake in the grass.
You will have to decide: when you are victorious with the current group you’re with, and you look back on that victory tainted with the hurt and sadness, will it feel worthy? Or do you want to spend your time with good people who truly have your back, and are very open about when you need to work harder, or when you’ve done something right, and in both situations, cheer you on? Honesty is a double-edge sword though: if you want honesty from others, you must be honest, too. They will show their true colors when you take that risk, communicate, and try to resolve conflicts.
The choice is yours. Godspeed.