1.3.19

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“The best gifts are never given, but claimed.”
–Warren Ellis

***

I have presently found myself in a disconcertingly similar situation to one I had 6 years ago. Not only is the situation so uncannily similar…but even the person involved looks physically like the one I dealt with before.

I have written an article about this phenomena, which I call “re-cycles.” And the TL;DR of it is that these startlingly similar events happen to us to pose a question to us: “how could you have done this differently?”

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That is also, in part, the premise of the “Choose Your Own Adventure”-type extended episode of Black Mirror called Bandersnatch. Through your remote control, you can select what moves the protagonist of the film can take. Every move you make has consequences. And sometimes you really fuck up and make a shitty move & then suddenly get “rebooted” back to that moment of decision to choose again.

In the first “version” of my current situation six years ago, I had my boss suddenly call me into his office to tell me that my job as editor/writer/producer of a top-3 MTV.com website was being replaced by a fellow who I had brought to the company and mentored. No solid reason was given for this demotion, but my boss helpfully suggested that I could stay on as a “den mother” for the almost completely male staff.

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I responded to this situation by emailing a polite resignation letter to my boss the next morning. I decided to not make a “fuss” about it or talk about it beyond him—because that’s not “professional.”

So what I essentially did was make it *easy* for him. My career took a massive hit with no explanation, but I would just slink off passively. Since I never brought the matter up with his superiors or my work-peers, he was free to contextualize my leaving any way he wanted. (About six months after my departure, the once-successful site would get shut down; because apparently, maybe I *did* have some talent running a website and they didn’t know what the fuck they were doing.)

I did not confront the situation. Instead: I just wanted to crawl in a hole and be left alone to lick my wounds.

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And so this morning I was faced with a similar situation. And I asked myself: “how could I do this differently so this particular lesson never happens again?”

So I decided to not quit, but instead email an official complaint letter addressed to someone else at the company. Instead of wallowing in this sense of failure and incompetence (because my self-esteem there was taking a hit for quite a few months now, and played a large part in my anxiety-filled mood by the end of the year), I stood up for myself.

And that was hard to do, and it might be messy. I might lose my job (though I was feeling like I was being pushed to quit, anyway). There will probably be some bad feelings, shit stirred up. Etc.

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But one thing I’ve learned in over twenty years in the workforce is the following:

You will often be given the advice that if you are simply “professional” and agreeable, you will go far. If “something” happens: don’t make a big deal of it! Let it be like water off a duck’s back. Because you don’t want to be a “troublemaker.” If you just keep things quiet and be professional, more rewards will come your way.

And I have NOT found this advice to be true.

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Instead, I have found that if you project passivity, you get taken advantage of. If you project this always-agreeable attitude, there are any number of people who will take that for weakness and actually not respect you.

No: let me amend that.

There are people who are genuinely nice who will not take advantage of you being nice. Robert Anton Wilson said you can’t make these blanket statements about people, and he was right.

I’m just saying: you have to stand up for yourself. And you may have to stand up for yourself a lot in your lifetime; it’s not like this one-time thing that you cross off the list and that’s it.

***

At the end of that letter I sent this morning, I said that I am an excellent writer. That I’ve had it hammered into my head by my boss for the last several months that I’m a shit writer—but I’m an excellent writer.

I’m an excellent writer.

4 comments

  1. You ARE an excellent writer. You’re several years ahead of me in terms of writing and editing, but I’ve followed your work long enough to see that in terms of your non-fiction, you have this natural knack for applying just enough of yourself to permit a legitimacy through transparency, something all media desperately needs more of. And in terms of your fiction, even without extended runs for any IP, you manage to summarize the characters in an almost archetypal way. Like with your co-writing the Munden’s Bar short, it wasn’t the Dark Knight Returns of Munden’s Bar tales, but it was a definitive story for that premise. You just have this insight with your writing that cannot be taught no matter how sturdy the nun’s ruler. Tons and tons of crap editors won’t ever see that, but the good ones will.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That means a lot to me, Richard…I think sometimes I need the “mirror” of people like you to fully remind myself of all this. But I’m just a person in a *continuum* of writing and ideas, and you’re right there with me adding your own insights and inspiring others. It’s like a chain of ideas and influences—and that’s the way I like it!

    Like

  3. Ah grrrl. Congrats on standing up for yourself. It is hard, to behave in ways that go against our fundamental nature. I am sure it will get easier with practice 🙂

    So the reason why I’m commenting. The strangest things have brought me to your blog. Not one, or two, but entire strings of synchronicities. The first time was 6 months ago when I had a few unsettling things happen (not in a bad way, just my perception of reality fundamentally shifting kind of way) that turned me on to the concept of synchronicity. Googling synchronicity brought me down all kinds of internet rabbit-holes and I found your blog. I stopped and read a bunch of your stuff, found it super interesting so I book-marked it, but then forgot about it. Then a few weeks later, I read an article on Jack Parsons somewhere, and got very curious about him, so I hit the ol’ Googles again, and bam–right back at your blog. Weird. Doesn’t stop there….

    About a month ago, I was watching the Martian with Matt Damon and for no reason at all, my mind wanders over to Butterflylanguage, so I ventured on over and holy shit – there a blog about synchronicity, with a picture of Matt Damon from the very same movie I was watching on my TV screen. What? Like double synchronicity! So, that got my attention and I read your blog quite a bit. I should totally support you I know, (I will I promise).

    Then tonight, I’m watching Bandersnatch and was feeling really weird about it. It almost gave me a disassociative attack, but it also got me thinking about how we can deviate off our paths, but not by very much because it seems to me that we keep going back to the same scenarios over and over again. A lot of that btw, can be explained by human behavior and how we seek the familiar and that translates into patterns of behavior. But we’re also self-aware (some of us more than others), and can learn from our mistakes or maybe even raise our consciousness higher and get a glimpse of the code and then really start making some changes? Hmmm… Anyways, it occurred to me to venture on over to your blog to get caught up and bam, I start reading your blog on Bandersnatch and re-occurances. Lots and lots of synchronicities, so what does one do when faced with a barrage of them? Idk – pay attention and say “hi”?

    btw. you are an amazing writer. Like rocket ship to the moon fantastic. My guess is that your gift doesn’t always translate into a commodity for sexist bosses. Tossing Pearls before swine…

    Thats all. Goodnight.

    Like

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