I’ve only recently come to the realization that I have been a work horse. I’ve been used, as a means to another person’s end. Well, I never liked to ‘play the game’ and I avoid office politics as much as possible. Problem is sometimes a tornado whirls by and you can’t stop it from sucking you in in its wake. Long story short, lots of poor policies, turnover, shifting roles on my team have made me see people in a very different light. I’ve been sort of blind sided and it enrages me and frustrates me but also makes me wonder why I didn’t see it. Was it blissful ignorance, wilful ignorance, or just plain naive ignorance?
My brother takes a completely different standpoint than I do. Having heard all about my situation at work, his analysis finds devious colleagues who sought to impress their good intentions on me, when all the while they were plotting against me. Seen through his eyes, it’s all a big conspiracy. Well, now, I wouldn’t go that far. But there is some merit to what he’s saying.
I often take what people say at face value. I don’t bother thinking about their motivations or why they ask something of me or say something to me, or do something. But in hindsight, when it comes to the work environment, it’s not always prudent to just get your work done. Not when other people aren’t. Not when people you work under know all too well your strong work ethic, your commitment to finishing things on time, your low self-esteem that keeps you from pushing your way to where you should/could/might want to be. Not when they know things about you that make all too easy to manipulate you.
I still don’t care for office politics, I still don’t want to be out to get people, and I refuse to operate that way. But now I need to be more aware of my surroundings and look out for myself. Only recently when it all became so obvious and I finally started to open my eyes did I begin to understand what was really going on. I caught people in obvious lies when before I wouldn’t have questioned them. I have been thrown under the bus, when push finally came to shove.
My brother always told me ‘if you don’t have your own plan, you’ll become part of someone else’s’. I don’t think I ever really understood what he meant until now. It’s true. If I don’t have my own goals, vision for my future, motivations, aspirations–any of that–then I will just become an easy building block for someone to acquire, to use to build his or her own future.
I’m learning it’s okay to be selfish and self-interested. These are not inherently bad traits. If you’re working in an environment that operates in a competitive, dog eat dog fashion well, then you should be self-interested. You should be self-interested or you’ll succumb to the interests of other people. The only other alternatives are changing the game–which I won’t even entertain in my case. Some organizations you can’t change, you have to either accept it and play the game, or chose the alternative: bow out, and find somewhere else to work.
I’ve opted for the latter. I know, office politics exist everywhere, and there are some things we just can’t get around or escape. But I have my own limits and my own boundaries and now I have my own plan too. I know I want new challenges, I want to move on, and I want to be somewhere where I am valued and respected as an employee and a person.