Question: Hi Luise: I was hoping you could direct me on what to do: I am a teacher. I believe in living my life with all the qualities I expect my students to exhibit. For example, kindness, helpfulness, hard working, thinking of others, treating others with respect, etc. Often times, the other teachers in the teacher’s lounge “talk” about other people and it is not positive talk. Because I am very sensitive to this kind of negative talk, I choose not to eat in the lounge and make my lunch at my desk a “working” lunch each day. I work hard and I am very serious about my dedication to my school. I feel, because of my way of thinking, I am very much a loner, I am not included in the loop of things, and my other colleagues don’t seem to care. I miss out of messages about things that they decided at lunch and have even missed out of the opportunity to have my principal pay for my way to a workshop that the rest of my colleagues got for free. I don’t know what to do because now this is emotionally upsetting me and I don’t want to go back to school because of the grown ups, not the kids. What do I need to do to change myself? I feel so paranoid at this point, I just KNOW it is all me but I can’t help the way I believe. I truly feel I don’t belong at my school and I am getting depressed. I am needing a fresh start, just like the kids. Please, please give me some advice about this situation (i.e.: How do I get along?) I would be so grateful. B.
Answer: Dear B.: This is something that a lot of us face: not fitting in. A personal preference can evolve into isolation. In disapproving of obviously substandard but very common conduct, we can give the impression to others that we think we are better than they are. Isn’t it true that you are judging them and they don’t meet your standards? You mention respecting others but that’s not always easy, is it?
Rejection can often be a two-way street. The other teachers probably know by your behavior that you don’t approve of them. In our society, that is probably seen as you being unable to get along with your peers…and a mark against you, not them.
There is the geographical cure, of course. You can change schools and start over. It’s sad, but you will undoubtedly find the same behavior elsewhere. Your other option is to stay where you are and hang out with the other teachers at lunchtime to keep up with what is going on. Maybe try doing it twice a week to see how that feels. Play a little game with yourself: see if you can find one thing that you admire about one of them each time you join the fray. This might surprise you.
The opportunity in this situation is to learn to let up a bit and have others be the way they are. That’s part of maturing, to move past disapproval to tolerance. The world around your is never going to be custom tailored to your beliefs and values. Work is just a mirror of life and isolation is not adjusting; it reflects rigidity.
If you do well at visualization: picture yourself taking off the black robes of the judge before you leave for school every morning. See yourself hanging them up in the closet. Then remind yourself during the day that you are not on the bench. When you return home you can put them back on if need be but you may simply outgrow them Blessings, Luise