Once upon a time our Dad said something to me I’ll never forget.
“Kris, there will be people who don’t like you just because of your last name.”
Not sure exactly how old I was, best recollection is elementary school. At the time it didn’t really register, I had plenty of friends, loved every minute of school, and life as a kid seemed to roll smoothly on.
As I’m now way beyond grade school years that message came back to mind. Early in one’s career there is a drive to make everyone happy. You often seek confirmation of your personae as well as your chosen career through the affirmation of others. Part of gaining experience in life is that you start to become more comfortable with YOU on your own.
Now that’s a YUGE generalization and it’s not to say we don’t need affirmation as older adults, but we become more comfortable with likes as well as dislikes. Maturity often gained in the school of hard knocks teaches us that one can either succumb to a negative reaction or try to learn from it and move on.
In this case I’m collectively looking at not being liked both from a personal as well as career standpoint. Suffice it to say there will be individuals, maybe even companies we work (or worked!) for that just don’t like us. It’s very possible the feeling is mutual. It does not mean though that we cannot work with them but we understand and or respect our differences. We also learn sometimes we just might have to leave a certain situation, job or relationship.
One of many things I learned living two decades in Europe is that in general Americans are not very good with critique. I found Europeans much more willing and capable of separating an opinion on a topic from the person. Heated discussions do not necessarily mean the end of the line but a new level of understanding.
We just have to look briefly at our US political system to see that not being able to work together with individuals you dislike makes for a dysfunctional society. I also think it’s important to separate private life from work life. In a work situation we don’t have the option often to choose our colleagues. Thus, one has to find, probably through trial and error how to set aside personal differences and focus on the work itself. Of course easier said than done, but age and experience is a good mediator.
What I’m really talking about in a nutshell is maturity assists one in coming to terms with ourselves and not feeling we have to meet someone else’s standard. Also why I believe experienced adults offer many advantages to team efforts, be it corporate or social.
Here’s a short list of bonuses I’ve found:
- You don’t have to be good pals with everyone, at work or in life, and still be a positive contributing member of the team
- You are OK with criticism both on yourself and your work
- You have coping tools to deal with situations both positive and negative
- Communicating clearly your position, with minimal drama, even in tough times becomes easier with age
- Maturity means you might have a different opinion than the “group” and you’re good with that
I like to use my professional dance career to highlight life examples. As a dancer in order to get work one must audition. These auditions take place for each and every show you desire to participate in. Obviously if one is in a company this does not happen, your one and only audition was to join the group.
However, when auditioning every single time you put your expertise, body (physical and mental) on the line in order to possibly get the gig. Sometimes you win and many times you lose.
As a young performer, (extrapolate to young professional) disappointment is often taken quite personally. In the dance world that can often be you think, I’m too short, too fat, too this and or too that. It’s you that is the problem. While it might just be that the choreographer had a different personae in mind, not that there is anything “wrong” with you. You were just not the person at that moment for that job. After it’s over you have to move on, start thinking about the next opportunity and or get back to training.
Now it’s not to say that politics or other methods of gaining a position do not occur, they do! Life is cruel. It is not always the person with the most qualifications or talent that wins. That’s also part of the learning experience.
At the end of the day we all would love to think that everything we do is brilliant and that the whole world adores us. Nice thought, rough reality. That said learning to be comfortable with the likes and dislikes can also be a rewarding part of the aging process!
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Bernard M. Baruch
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my 6 to 60 wellness blog journey. As always comments are welcome on this or any post!