Accepting that sometimes people are just plain shitty is hard for me. You see I like to see the good in people. I like to think that there’s always a way to finesse an amicable relationship with even the most brute of humans. No matter how small the interaction, kindness is always my go to weapon of choice. “Búscale la vuelta” or in English, “find their soft spot” my brain tells me. Usually I have favorable results. But sometimes…like the time in this story…not so much…
We’ll call her Ginny. Tall, blonde, married, with no children, a stable career, house on at least 3 acres, the American dream and the beautiful dog to match. Ginny has got it all.
In fact, even though I’d be doing things a little backwards, I kinda want to be like Ginny when I grow up.
Its 2011, I’ve got two young children, I’m single, living in an overpriced rental apartment with my mom as my live-in nanny- because daycares are blood sucking leeches, and I’m commuting to work on bus or using my mom’s car on the days I feel she can do without it. This bad mama jama got herself a job working as an Administrative Assistant at the same company Ginny works at.
I’m stoked! Things are looking up for me. The degree I worked so hard for is opening doors for me.
Thank you baby Jesus!
Although I’m fully aware that an Associate’s degree is pretty much equivalent to a Highschool degree in this day in age, it took me a long time to get this bad boy and I’m considering wrapping it in the same hard plastic my mom wrapped her furniture in in the 80s. The preservation of my community college edumacation! (Side note: I went on to get my Bachelor’s degree from a reputable University but nothing tastes as sweet as your first bite of victory.)
Work is awesome. I’m working for an amazing team of women who not only know their craft but are happy to share the knowledge with me and I am soaking it alllllllll in! Hell, here they are successful women, running the show, making enough dough to raise three of my little families, I’d be a fool not to learn the ropes from them!
In the meantime, I don’t know what I did to Ginny but she’s looking like she’s ready to hang me using one of those same ropes. She answers my calls with repulsion, she gives me the cold shoulder and she throws work my way with last minute deadlines. Wait a minute, is this chick trying to sabotage me? I mean, our positions don’t even impact each other. Naaaahhhh. This is all in my head. Try having a talk with her Bee. Present your side of things to her. She’ll see how benign you are.
Wrong. My private conversation with Ginny got me nowhere. In fact, for a little while I felt silly for thinking that kindness would slay this mini beast I was facing. I got over it though. I had bigger battles to face- single parenthood, the purchase of my children’s very own home, financial responsibilities piling up, my mom’s yo-yoing mental health issues, more undergraduate schoolwork, my keen ability at choosing wrong men as amorous partners and the added responsibilities that each promotion I received at work brought.
I was nice to Ginny and said hello in passing and I chalked up her reaction to me- to her own battles. I mean, hey, we all have them. It bothered me that I couldn’t get through to her though and every time I tried it resulted in major awkwardness, but I prided myself in always choosing kindness.
Fast forward a couple years, another baby added to my tribe, a couple more failed amorous relationships, some changes in senior staff and one more change in position for me at work… and the detonation of the Ginny bomb!
Now I don’t know if I made it clear, but Ginny’s disdain for me was a one-way street, to this day, I still do not know what exactly I may have done to her, but her drama was a one-man show. Promise.
Here we are 2018 and there are five of us sitting in a conference room meeting on protocol for how the Blue Department will handle the rare occasions where the Gatekeeper is absent. Note I work in the Red Department but have always been happy to be of service. It’s how I roll.
Insert the Ginny bomb here.
I kid you not, five minutes into this meeting I felt like I had gotten sucker-punched and the poor Director of the Blue Department who was hosting the meeting had gotten caught in the cross fire! Holy crap what did I sign up for? Had I not read the agenda correctly? Was this a Bee roasting session? Was I supposed to wear a bullet proof vest and I somehow missed the memo? There was seven years of fermented disdain spewing from Ginny’s mouth and she was looking straight at me. Her words calculated, and no one was going to shut her up, ask the Director of the Blue Department (I’m giving her a medal of honor just FYI.)
In that moment I was so shocked, my blood boiling from the audacity of Mrs. Ginny feeling entitled enough to no longer treat me subpar in private but now to do it in a room with my peers, that all I could say was “right now I think my best option is to be quiet”. Partly because I know that you do not gain peace with war and partly because something inside me knew that there was some underlying reason why Ginny was feeling powerful.
I sat through the rest of that meeting. Still in complete disbelief and asking myself what exactly I could have done that day, that week, that month, ever, to warrant Mrs. Ginny’s public bashing.
For me, the questions I was asking myself were natural ones to ask. It was valentine’s day- maybe Ginny and her husband weren’t seeing eye to eye. It was an afternoon meeting- maybe Ginny had a rough morning. I searched every corner of my brain to excuse Ginny. I searched for ways to blame myself.
I cried and convinced myself that tomorrow was another day.
The sun rose, and I woke up with the same fire in my soul. The same unanswered question. What did I do to prompt this treatment? My brain and heart fighting off the voice that’s screaming “she’s White. You’re Hispanic.” That’s society’s voice. That’s not the voice of my reality. I’ve never felt handicapped by one of my favorite things about myself- being Hispanic.
I marched into HR and told my story. He was appalled. Other attendees of the meeting corroborated my story to him without my prompting them, they knew Ginny was out of line. The Administrator soon found out as well. I figured this would all help burn out that fire in my soul. It was burning hot and it was all I could focus on. I was bothered for feeling bothered. I’m sure Ginny had forgotten it all the minute she stomped out that conference room and here I am days later still tossing in my sleep about it. “She’s White. You’re Hispanic.” Shhhhhhhut up brain!
I don’t know what repercussions, if any, Ginny will have, for now it all looks to be just another day at the Doughnut Making Shop. But I do know that this experience has made me feel a whole lotta different things and I’ve learned a couple things about myself:
- I’m quick to justify people’s shittiness (MS word does not recognize this as a word, make note to write them a letter.)
The truth is we all have bad days, but we must learn how not to project that onto others. Sadly, we must also accept that our goodness does not automatically evoke the goodness in others. Do not let that truth change who you are. You can’t control other people’s actions or reactions.
If I listen to society’s voice, I might consider myself to be a “sucker” in this way. But think about it, who is the bigger sucker? The person who chooses good or the person who rejects it?
- I’m quick to blame myself when something goes sour.
Taking ownership and responsibility for your own wrongdoings is an admirable thing. It’s the correct thing to do. It’s the only way to right your wrongs. However, taking responsibility for someone else’s shittiness is a heavy burden to carry. One that is NOT yours to carry. Insert Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” here.
Learn to let go of things. Accept that the reason why you don’t understand why someone would not choose kindness is simply because you have kindness within you to give! Let it go.
- Society’s voice, no matter how loud, is NOT your voice.
Learn to be louder. Walk in your truth. Let society hear you instead.
Being Hispanic is not my weakness. It is my super power. Being kind is not my weakness. It is my super power. If by chance there is any truth behind society’s voice and my situation with Ginny, that is not my problem because that is not my truth.
Learn to train your brain. They say you can not stop a bird from flying over your head i.e. the thought that “she’s White. You’re Hispanic” But you CAN stop it from building a nest there. You must learn that not every thought that comes into your head is true.
Weird ey? Your brain generated the thought and you have to tell this very same brain, that otherwise gives you good thoughts, that this one is no good and so you won’t be holding on to it as truth. The thing is, as odd as that sounds, its exactly how you must handle it. Train your brain to see good. To produce good thoughts. Uplifting thoughts.
The Ginny’s of the world are ready to bring you down. Don’t let your thoughts join the same war.
Oh and ps. Continue to choose kindness y deja que Ginny se vaya al carajo 😉
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