In the past (almost) six months, my pride has overwhelmed me many times during my days at work. Being demoted is mentally one of the toughest things I’ve dealt with during the past year as I felt so hurt and so disrespected to have been brought back as something I had once been promoted from. But thinking negatively about it, I’ve realized, does no good. It doesn’t help me get my old position back and it certainly doesn’t make the days any easier. This week, however, I was able to meet with my “big” boss and I mustered up the courage to tell him how disappointed I was about the demotion, and honestly what a struggle it’s been for me to deal with that since being back. What’s more important, is that instead of just complaining about how I don’t love my current position, I spoke of multiple ways I think I can be better utilized and gave specific examples of things I’d like to work on and feel I can really contribute to. This made me feel tremendously better as I felt like A. I got what I wanted to say off my chest and B. I was being proactive about what I think my career path at the company should be. Things won’t magically get better overnight but it’s a step in the right direction, and that’s all I can ask for, right?
All weekend, I was stressed about this meeting on Monday. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and was totally focused on how I could make it a productive and positive conversation. I was amping myself up, telling myself how great I am at my job. How I deserve this job. How I worked SO hard for the position I once had. How I have proven myself time and time again. How I deserved to have that position back. But this weekend, as I sat in the sand at a beach in NH, thinking about how I was going to get what I wanted out of this meeting, how I was going to “sell myself and my talents”, I ironically began reading about the Buddhist philosophy on “pride.” Buddhist teachings say that being “proud” is not a virtue and something that we should work to eliminate within ourselves. It reminds us that everything we have is because of other people, literally everything. That our very being is because our parents created us. That someone taught us how to walk and talk and read. That someone helped feed us when we were growing and put a roof over our head. That someone gave us our first job, and our second and our third. That when we make money, it’s because someone else is giving it to us. Whether it’s an employer or we own our a company and its a client or we have employees working to make us money, someone else is helping us.
The whole thought is so extremely humbling. Exactly the opposite of how I had been acting in my head — “I deserve this, I deserve that” type of attitude.
The whole notion though is honestly a really weird thought to me. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m a hard worker, that I’ve earned everything I’ve gotten in life. I wanted to be a gymnast so I worked for it. Well, I had coaches that taught me and parents that paid for the lessons. I wanted to become a better public speaker so I enrolled myself in an oratorical contest. Well, I had a teacher that worked with me and let me practice for hours in front of her. I worked as a babysitter and house cleaner to save up on my own for my first car. Well, someone gave me that job and let me into their home so I could make that money. I went to college and worked my ass off for a degree. Well, I was able to work so hard because my parents financially and emotionally supported me and professors mentored me. I got my current job because I was successful at my first “real world” job. Well, yes that’s the case but I also had a friend’s dad pass along my resume in HR which absolutely helped my chances. All the things in life that i’ve accomplished, someone, in some capacity has helped me me it happen.
This is such a different way to think about life and it’s hard because I think as individuals we like to pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves what a good job we’re doing or why we deserve whatever life is giving us. There’s a lot of value in that, because I truly believe that you have to be your number one fan. You have to believe in yourself and your contributions to the world before anyone else can. But, what I can take away from this teaching is to truly remember that I didn’t do this alone. Not even close. So it’s important to remember and respect all those that gave you a chance, gave you an opportunity to make something of your life. In its simplest form, it’s remembering to have gratitude. Gratitude for everything and everyone in your life.
So say thank you to someone who’s helped you along the way. It’ll feel good for the soul.
to the most humble person I know, my Auntie Mary: thank you for teaching me what it means to be selfless and exemplifying what a strong and smart woman looks like. thank you for taking me to so many disney on ice’s, being at every birthday, and acting like a third grandmother in my life, I am truly lucky. thank you for being the kind, caring and gentle person that you are. i am so honored to have you in my life.