Six years ago, Sarah found herself in a hostile work environment. The manager of her company was a controlling, domineering man who tried to insinuate his way into the nooks and crannies of his employees’ lives as if he had a right to control their personal time. If they didn’t kowtow to what he dictated was a proper use of their free time, he would punish them in some way at work. He was belligerent, cruel, and vindictive, doing whatever he could to embarrass and mock those who he deemed as disappointments to him.
Now anyone who has met Sarah knows she has a strong personality. She goes after what she wants and doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s a go-getter who would rather blaze a trail than follow a well-worn path. So, why did she settle for this type of environment? Simple. It was accepted by those around her and she was convinced she needed what this employer had to offer. It’s the same with anyone who finds themselves in this situation. They want to fit in, to be accepted, or they feel they won’t succeed without what the other person or group is holding over their head. Sarah didn’t need what this man promised, which wasn’t anything, really, except a job. Needless to say, we quickly rescued her from that environment and severed all ties with the people there.
I have to admit, I’m a little sensitive when it comes to these situations. It’s a form of bullying and I spent a portion of my middle school years being bullied by kids who thought they were tougher and better than me. Furthermore, as I grew up, I was involved in churches where the leadership tried to dictate every aspect of my life, controlling who I was supposed to be, and if I didn’t follow their rules, I was ostracized from their special groups and made to feel inferior. At the time, like Sarah with her job, I thought I needed what they were promising and in order to fit in I made sure to tow the legalistic line. It wasn’t until later in life that I finally said enough was enough and walked away from it all. I deserved better.
The truth is we all deserve better.
We deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. We deserve kindness, graciousness and even mercy. We deserve to be treated like decent human beings. We deserve a safe, decent work environment where the boss wants to nurture us to grow in our position, not micromanage our lives. We deserve a place where we have the ability to succeed, instead of someone always talking down to us and keeping us from achieving our potential.
I was talking about this with someone the other day and they gave me a puzzled look. “You’re a writer. You work alone. Are the girls being mean to you again?”
No, the girls are awesome and do nothing except make me look good. And yes, while I do work alone for the most part, the majority of my time actually, I’m not always alone. There are conferences, author events, book signings, radio and video interviews, and writing groups. For an introverted group, we sure do meet up quite often. These events would also be considered my work environments––it says so on my tax deductions––and they can be peaceful or hostile, depending on the people in charge.
For the past several years, the girls and I have striven to make sure our environments are peaceful. Those include our work, home, and even friendships. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t bad days at work or disagreements with friends. Things happen. However, what it means is that these are the exceptions and not the rule. We don’t need friendships that bring us negativity and life is too short to be stuck in a work environment that brings you fear rather than enjoyment. Likewise, as I travel this Indie path, I’m very conscious about who I want to be associated with and that includes events. While I am always striving to increase my readership, I won’t do it at the expense of that peace we have attained. I don’t want it bad enough to tolerate abuse or disrespect of any kind to me or one of the girls. You shouldn’t either. There are plenty of venues out there that offer a strong following without having to endure being screamed at and called names. I deserve better. So do you. People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you. Respect yourself enough to demand better from them. I believe you’re worth it and so should you. Bullies don’t need to be catered to; they need to be confronted. There is nothing anyone has that is worth allowing them to treat you in a demeaning manner. Trust me when I say you deserve better, because you do.
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Until next time, keep chasing your fantasies!