The Daily Stoic: Weekly Reflection №. 4
“I don’t agree with those who plunge headlong into the middle of the flood and who, accepting a turbulent life, struggle daily in great spirit with difficult circumstances. The wise person will endure that, but won’t choose it — choosing to be at peace, rather than at war.” — Seneca, Moral Letters
When I was just a newbie in my current job, I was the type of employee who would react to anything that does not seem right. I was almost always honest with my opinions, whether I was concerned or not. I’d like to think that I was a caring, empathetic, and protective friend back then. Guess what — it backfired and eventually gave me confidence issues that I still struggle with up to this day.
Way back in 2017, there was a drama going on in the office. Everyone was very pissed off by a particular person, but no one was brave enough to relay it to the management. As aforementioned, I was almost always honest; Thus, I was the one to first talk about it. Eventually, the people in the office felt empowered because someone stepped up and talked about it. Well, I will not deny it — of course, it made me feel empowered, too. I felt like a leader, a friend, who was brave enough to talk about what the majority felt. And looking back, I wish I knew that it was not my place nor my role to be that person, to be honest.
After about a year, I had a conversation with my manager after our working hours. Initially, we talked about my life in general and eventually about the office drama. Of course, I talked about what I felt at that time. I was never the type of person who talks about other people’s opinions — personally, I think it is not right — which is why I only talked about my perception. After talking my heart out, my manager told me — “You know what, I feel like you only influenced your teammates. Especially Emy* because that person seems kind, you know.”
*Not her real name.
I could not say a word for a minute or two because I was seriously appalled. First of all, my manager did not know what other people were saying about that particular person, especially Emy. I agree that she seemed like a kind person, but the people who got to know her better might not necessarily agree. Regardless, what my manager said scarred me. When I got home, I cried so much because I felt like a bad person. Since then, I tried to detach myself from the office dramas and mind my own business. I never expressed my opinion anymore unless someone asked me multiple times.
I could not stop thinking about this particular phase in my life after reading Seneca’s passage. I was young back then, trying to be someone I thought I would want to be by conforming to society.
What I thought was empowering was actually just trying to seek validation from the people around me.
Not only did I speak for them, but I was also willing to clean their mess.
That is the sad part about wanting to be validated and loved desperately. You are willing to do everything in your power so you will have a taste of what you thought love is.
Looking back, I could not help but regret why I did not tell anyone sooner. Maybe in that way, someone would have told me otherwise — that I was not the person my manager made me feel. She did not know me well so I should not feel sorry for everything, whether I was right or wrong, for being honest with how the whole team felt. Maybe if someone had told me so, I would not have lost my confidence in my leadership abilities.
One of the things I have learned from that incident was this:
You should not allow your emotions to speak for you. You have to think a thousand times if it is actually something that affects everyone or something that affects your ego alone. Is this for the better? Or a distraction? Will it just be something that will scrutinize you in the long run?
Although I would have probably done the same thing — speak about how I felt — I might have to reduce the emotions peeking through while talking to my manager. I might have defended myself and told her that I did not influence anyone. That everyone was feeling the same thing as I am and they are old enough to have a say about what they feel. And perhaps, it would be best if she talked to them as well.
Maybe if I had done that, I would not have lost my confidence and the friendship I have built with my manager. Oh, well. That is just how life is, I guess?