When I was a child I was shy in the playground I would hold back and be the follower. There was always the rule maker, the bully, the popular girl, the pretty girl and the bright one there before me – leading me on into whatever adventure or misadventure there was to be had.
Going to school and learning opened up a whole new world, one of knowledge and fun. Books suspended reality and created new universes to explore. My confidence grew. I learnt to have my point of view put myself forward.
There were always the playground groups at school. Where did I fit, the loner, the naive one, gullible and too easily led on by stories of others, was often my problem. I didn’t have the necessary street cunning to doubt every word or action.
Moving on from school to university brought with it a whole new playground. These were the seventies. Student unrest, voting with our feet, trying to find an identity that was unique. They were there though, the rule maker, the bully, the popular girl, the pretty girl and the bright one in the playground of student life. Trying to be grown up in a world suspended from the rest of community life. A unique microcosm of beliefs and non beliefs. Where we tried things out – some legal and some not. Wrapped in the cotton wool that surrounds student life.
I don’t think I ever knew quite where I should fit. Sometimes what I believed was certainly different to the rest. I wasn’t the one asked first to the balls and didn’t have the flock of friends wanting to eat with me at the refec. My political, sporting and religious views were often at odds.
When I entered the workforce it was such a relief. I was out of the playground. I could be me and enter a world where I could drive my own agenda free from what others thought. A whole new universe of learning opened up for me. I saw the vision of people growing and learning and finding the strengths from within to overcome distress and hardship in their lives.
What was I thinking? A naive 20 something in the workplace. What life experience did I have? None. Low and behold there they were - the rule maker, the bully, the popular girl, the pretty girl and the bright one. The environment of the playground and faces had changed but the main players had come along for the ride.
With each job I grew stronger, learnt more about myself and how to cope and adjust to the pressure the players put on me. Life threw its punches and there have been many hills to climb (I’ve done enough climbing now).
Probably the hardest player in the workforce playground I came up against was the bully. I thought I had escaped the menace but there it was urged on by its evil partner in crime - envy – one of the seven deadly sins. A formidable combination.
You think you are strong. Other’s try and be helpful. It’s a learning experience they say. Well I’m all over learning and the sting from envy and bully still smarts. Although with time and distance the pain of course, subsides.
I don’t think we can escape the players in the playground every group, society, culture and community has them. All we can do is be ourselves.
And what have I learnt from my experiences?
- I can only, and always will be me.
- There are some people I like and some people I don’t like. That’s OK.
- There are some people who like me and some who don’t. That’s OK.
- I don’t have to play by other people’s rules.
- Negative people are like an energy sink without a plug, they drain away my emotional energy and I don’t need them in my life.
- There is not a hidden agenda and ulterior motive behind everything – not like some people would have you think. That’s called paranoia and it is a psychiatric symptom.
So ... you can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk ....