Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Why am I telling myself that I’ve been harmed?
Another one of those areas where I think the Stoic response is somewhat lacking. The Stoic response to feeling wronged would be to choose not to respond. And yes, from a perspective of perfect enlightenment, that’s desirable. But there’s a lot of work to get there. Choosing not to respond does not mean ignoring the issue. It does not mean letting it fester and simmer and turn into a grudge. It does not mean negating actual harm. What it does mean–at least to me–is to not let the fact that I have a legitimate reason to feel harmed to rule my entire life. It means a pursuit of justice rather than vengeance. It also means choosing my battles, and where I want to expend my emotional energy. Some people are just not worth it. For example, a friend of mine today posted a note regarding not being provoked into responding to someone complaining about a mask mandate at the shop where she works, stating all kinds of bogus stats about how masks do not work and how they lower oxygen levels and concluding with that wonderful command that they should “do some research.’ She wisely chose not to engage, knowing that there was nothing to be gained and time and emotional energy to be lost.
Sometimes, we are harmed. And if we don’t acknowledge that, we risk ending up more damaged.
Last night, I happened to check my work email to see if there had been followup from a message I sent. That’s when I learned my manager was retiring, with her last day on March 5. After that, there was silence until a meeting this morning, and then another meeting later this afternoon. I don’t think it was entirely voluntary–because our departmental coordinator (who had been planning to retire soon) also retired, and two of my colleagues were let go.
I have very mixed emotions about this. I did think the writing was on the wall about the future of my department when my manager’s manager retired last year, and that has proved to be the case–we’ve now been subsumed by the strategic projects group and no longer exist as a separate entity. I’ve been more or less seconded to that group for most of my time for the past year, anyway, so not a lot will change for me. But so many of the people who have made work a good place to be over the years are now gone. Don’t get me wrong–it’s still a good group; I really like the people I’m working with now, and I like the overall direction of our team–but I now have the longest tenure of any of the project managers. We were a very social department before lockdown. And it sucks that we won’t get to do anything together to see off my current manager, just as we did not get to for my department head. We’d also lost about five other long-term employees to other departments in the past year and a half. For me, the worst is losing one of my colleagues. Unlike my manager, his last day was yesterday, and there will be no farewell for him. We were just watching his fishtank on a call yesterday. I have no idea how long he knew about this, or whether it was sprung on him yesterday. He’s an awesome guy, one of the funniest people I’ve ever met (he even did standup for awhile), but I know the job had been getting to him (I took over one of his projects when he went on stress leave a couple of years ago).
This definitely does point out the fact that nothing lasts forever and I do want to start thinking myself about what I do next–whether that comes sooner or later. Part of me really would like to pivot to arts or philanthropic organizations, but this isn’t the best time for that. Part of me would love to take what I’m doing with editing and push that farther–maybe take some kind of coursework to get credentials to do more of that kind of work. To that end, I did a little Googling, and I’ve found an online editing program run out of Simon Fraser University. You can take courses before you actually commit to the certificate program, and I think I might just pursue this option. They seem to use Chicago as their home style, which suits me very well.
Well. Suddenly, there may be the beginning of a plan. Wow. This feels…right.
I’m going to devote the rest of the evening to embroidery.