My younger brother has a knack for theatre. In February he joined a local theatre group and they are putting up an experimental play. Within just a few weeks, he was given an important role in the play as a replacement. It was wonderful to see him so excited about this. Managing school and rehearsals is a tough task and he was doing it without any complaints.
One day, school got over late and I went to drop him off to the rehearsals. I had some work nearby so I thought I’d wait after finishing it, watch the rehearsals and then give him a ride back home.
“Oh, do I have to start from the basics now? ALWAYS face the audience!” The harsh voice echoed in the building. I peeked inside just to realise that my brother was getting bashed up by the instructor for some silly mistakes.
“Walk properly, like a man. You are a man aren’t you? I am not too sure.”
“Do you think this soft voice will reach the last row? I doubt it will even cross the third one.”
“Call the Janitor. I am sure he will do a better job than this guy…”
Every word hammered his confidence down. And the humiliating laughter just made things even more cruel. He is new over there and I could see that he was trying his best to cope up. If there are any suggestions, there has to be a gentle way to put it forward. He is just 15, trying hard to adjust in a new group. He needs to make friends over there who will make him feel confident. He needs an instructor who appreciates his courage of venturing into something new. He needs encouragement. Not a bunch of bullies who turn this into a nightmare.
A group which already has a strong bonding will never accept you so easily. You have to take special efforts not to be a pariah. You have to laugh at jokes you don’t find funny. You have to do things that don’t interest you. Humiliation comes free in such situations. And there are always horrible bosses. These are the people who can easily make you feel comfortable. Their opinion matters. BUT, they choose not to.
A boss could be anyone who “bosses” over you. It could be a friend who constantly insults you, a teacher who criticizes you way beyond necessary or even your son or daughter who makes you feel like shit. In most of the relationships, there is one dominant person and one recessive one. In a healthy relationship, this position keeps changing. Sometimes, person A is the dominant one and B accepts it and sometimes B becomes the boss. Once one person in a relationship never steps down from his or her dominant position, the relationship turns horrible.
In today’s world, criticism has replaced appreciation. In the constant struggle to achieve more, we have forgotten to sit back and look at what we’ve done so far. If I know people, I know for sure that nobody underperforms by choice. At least not in the start. Let it be a boring desk job or even something you have passion for, naturally you will try to give your best in the start. But when these efforts go unappreciated, things turn sour. Mediocrity steps in. Everybody in the world has at least one unique talent. The tricky part is, most of the times this talent goes unnoticed. Sometimes even by that individual himself. As a human being, I feel it is our responsibility to respect that talent and genuinely tell that person that no matter how small it seems, it matters.
After rehearsals, while going home, I asked him, “Are you okay?” And he said yes.
The next day he was as excited as the day before. He went to the rehearsals. Now, he is doing alright. When I ask him about his rude instructor, he tells me that he has started nitpicking some other new kid. I am glad the focus has shifted to someone else. But I am even more happy about how my kiddo brother treated this whole situation. He stayed positive. He didn’t lose faith in his own abilities. And that really matters.
Not everyone is generous enough to understand what you are going through. Because it takes efforts to be compassionate. But nobody can make you feel bad about yourself if you don’t let them to. If you have a horrible boss in your life, let him be the way he is. Don’t expect him to change his character to suit your needs. And if his opinion makes you feel low about yourself, then seriously f*ck it. Do not give such people the authority to tell you that you are no good. They may be the dominant one in this relationship. But that doesn’t mean you have to agree with their point of view about you.
My younger brother and his reaction to this situation taught me to stay confident about myself and my work. There are people who tell me that I have potential but I am extremely ordinary. Such reactions when come so bluntly hurt a lot. They may be right. They may be wrong. And not my thoughts but my actions to come will differentiate what’s right and what’s wrong.
Cheers to staying positive.