Reality Check for Young People

There’s the way things ought to be, and then there’s the way things are.  So, you may as well know…

When it comes to successful employment there is the stated reality (or paradigm) of things, which usually places the focus on qualities like ‘ability’ and ‘performance.’  But the all too often [harsher] reality of it – if you didn’t already know – is that most of the time it really comes down to whether the right people like you or not.  It isn’t the rule per se, just the way it tends to go:  That if the right people like you, there will pretty much always be a place for you in the organization [even if you’re unqualified or marginally incompetent].  Then there’s the reverse side of the coin.  If the wrong people don’t like you, it doesn’t really matter how good you are…they will probably (at a time of their choosing) find a way to be rid of you.  Performance reviews and all that stuff is (perhaps more than you realize or others are willing to admit)  just going through the motions.  An alternative, more cynical view might characterize these processes as having legal ducks in a row.

Again, this isn’t the rule necessarily, just the way things often are…really.

Why bring this up?  Because there is I imagine a segment of young people out there who have a certain view of ‘justice’ and ‘fairness,’ and they will pour so much of themselves into something thinking that ‘performance’ is the key only to have the world (at some side-swiped moment in their lives) come crashing down around them, with no plausible explanation as to why.  Sometimes there is no why.  Or, more likely, the why isn’t for the reasons it would be in an otherwise just world.  Maybe it could help some people to understand that sometimes in life it just doesn’t matter how well you do [or could do if given the opportunity] or how hard you try; sometimes they just don’t like you and that’s really the long and short of it and…Trust me on this one, you cannot make everyone like you regardless of whether you think they should like you so there’s no point in going down that path [but some of you will have to learn this the hard way no matter what I say and that’s ok too].

Sometimes, painful as it may be, it’s better to take a short look at things, the way they really are.  And then, when a little strength returns, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on.  Acknowledge the bitterness.  Recognize that the world isn’t fair and that it too often doesn’t function the way it should function.  But most of all, don’t let it consume you.  It may take a while to recover.  Allow the process to unfold…over time.  Don’t suppress it.  You’ll only get a burdensome chip on your shoulder.  Just know that sometimes, occasionally, it wasn’t about your shortcomings.  There probably wasn’t anything you could have done better [short of compromising your dignity or sense of self].

Try not to compromise either if you can manage it.

Struggling, but staying true to yourself (or the pursuit thereof) is so much more meaningful than thriving in a fictional bubble of perceived ‘comfort’ at the expense of personhood.  And sometimes that struggle is exactly the road life is going to send you down for reasons over which you likely had very little control.


Relevant afterthought: I have so far never personally been fired from a job.  But I have had ample opportunity to observe these social dynamics play out, and see the factors at play and how they affected people.  It’s just how things are – quite often.

Published in: on April 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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