Life is What You Make of it

“Life is what you make of it, so beautiful or so what”

-Paul Simon

My wife said I was pretty good at judging people.

She didn’t mean being judgmental (although I can be pretty bitchy), she was referring to having a good read on someone and what kind of person they are.

I thought about this and I disagreed. I think I’m terrible at this.

Then I thought about it a little longer and I realized that she was right BUT I tend to ignore my instincts with a lot of people. I try to ignore certain attributes of someone to make them “fit” into my desired perception of them.

For example, if I WANT to like someone I can easily ignore aspects of them that might be, well, awful.

I mean, everyone has good and, well, areas of improvement parts of themselves.

I had a boss a few years ago who was, well, he was an asshole. He was sexist, racist, and mean. He was petty, he was a bully, and he just… delighted in making people feel bad.

Everyone hated him. And for very good reason.

But he always had my back. I was a strong member of the team and caused very little problems. He mostly left me alone.

And I was appreciative of this. He made the workplace a living hell for every single of my colleagues. The job was stressful enough and he didn’t help. He made a difficult job even worse and he did this for the sheer hell of it. Like I said, he loved doing this and he did this intentionally.

I suppose he was a very insecure man and it made him feel better to belittle others. If you want to see someone’s true character, give them power, after all.

Because he looked out for me, I looked past his horrible, likely illegal behavior.

It was wrong to do this. I did this because I needed the job and I didn’t want to rock the boat.

I like to think that I wouldn’t tolerate this type of working condition today. But as I said, I tend to overlook bad qualities of someone if I want to.

And yes! This absolutely makes me a hypocrite.

I do the opposite of this, too. I, well, vilify some people. I despise some people for a reason and it’s probably not for a good reason, sometimes it’s just me being petty. I have a hard time seeing the good in someone if I made the decision (often an arbitrary decision) that I don’t like them.

Sometimes this is mostly harmless. If I decide I don’t like a musician but I hear a song of theirs that is actually good, I have a hard time admitting that a band that I despise has a decent song.

But I do this with people. Like, people I know.

I’ve written recently about my boss and how much I don’t like him at the moment. Things have calmed down a LITTLE but it’s like playing that game Perfection. I am doing the professional equivalent of putting little plastic shapes where they belong knowing full well that the timer will be up and things will quickly and without warning go to hell. I just know that my boss will fly off the handle at any moment and just waiting for it to happen.

Not to get tooooo introspective but that’s a similar feeling to having an abusive parent. I never knew what would set my dad off. It was very tense growing up.

Since things have calmed down a BIT my… anger has subsided a little. I don’t feel as combative as I did a couple of weeks ago when I saw him as a villain, as an opponent, as someone I was fighting with and constantly arguing with.

It was, and it will be, horrible again.

Like the job I mentioned earlier, my current job is stressful and thankless. Having a boss that picks a fight over the stupidest things doesn’t help.

Over the last two months I’ve lived in the mindset of BOSS=VILLAIN. He has become, justifiably or not, the bane of my existence. It feels like a long time ago when we were friends. We used to get along very well and could talk about music and other things we both had in common.

If I am being honest I think that’s causing the most… sadness, in a way. I miss my friend. If he called me I never knew if he was calling to talk about work or about his newest addition to his vintage record collection. These days every call, every email is angry.

I don’t have a lot of friends in my male life. With my boss I had a friend and a mentor but today I feel like I have an enemy.

I am having a hard time thinking that my friend is, well, still in there somewhere. I’ve decided, again, justifiably or not, he is my enemy.

Because of this I have developed an impulse to just… fight back. If he sends an email asking about something it comes off as accusatory. Soft skills are not his forte… he either lacks them or chooses to not use them. When an email like that comes in I immediately feel my blood boil and write an equally emotionally charged email.

Of course, I don’t send it. I rewrite it, I soften in, and send a water-down response. He is still my boss after all and I do want to keep my job.

Last week I was having a very frustrating couple of days. Some of it work related, some of it financial, some were car related…. it sucked. Everything was going to hell. I mean, everything is fine and I am just being dramatic but it was hard to be positive at the time.

I was, in a way, bristling for a fight. I was frustrated and pissy.

And then my boss called.

And I knew why he was calling. Something happened that everyone knew was going to happen, something happened that was outside of my control.

My boss can laser focus on THINGS. A word, a shift in tone, a slight change in someone’s behavior. He tends to pick it apart and ask why someone chose that particular phrase and starts to speculate on it.

Right away he picked up on my frustration. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and this forthrightness is often my undoing.

I try not to get personal with him. I used to… but as I said things have shifted from friends to enemies.

“It’s been a horrible fourteen hours” I said.

“Personal or work related?”

“Isn’t everything work related?” I responded.

And I said this because I wanted him to know that the THING that happened was weighing on me and, well, hopefully not take out his wrath on me to the level he was likely going to.

But he surprised me.

Not if you don’t let it he said.

That froze me.

This came from someone who sends emails on Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights. This is someone who doesn’t seem to separate work from everything else. Nothing is more important in life. Life IS work.

It impacted me to my core because for the first time in months he was a mentor. My friend could be seen between the cracks once again.

He said something that was different than the usual accusatory “you fucked up” finger-pointing that has become the dominant back and forth conversation over the last several months.

AND it was something I needed to hear, I suppose. Work has been frustrating lately and not solely because of him. I LIKE my job, I’m good at it. When things are going well it impacts the rest of my life.

After his words sunk in I told him the obvious…. that he was right.

It’s about your priorities, he said. Things will be what they will be.

He then shifted into the reason for the call which was to update me on something and then asked me to take on a short project.

And that was that.

I thought about this call all day. It was like… goddammit. He’s right.

My point to all of this is that sometimes my enemies, sometimes the people that I don’t like, occasionally have a point. Sometimes I agree with SOMETHING they say.

I have a hard time admitting that someone I like has bad qualities. And I have a hard time admitting that someone I don’t care for might have a perspective that I agree with.

I have to admit it’s easier when someone more or less shows their hand and reveals what kind of person they are. I do live (or try to) by the Maya Angelou quote “when people show you who they are, believe them”.

If I look at my boss’ actions and words that have been predominant over the last several months and remember a lot of the things he’s said in the almost four years of working for him I think there is enough precedent to chalk him up as another angry, irrational person. But…

He probably isn’t.

He loves the Beatles, cried at his daughter’s eighth grade graduation, goes to every baseball game his sons play in. He is, well, human.

No good qualities make up or justify a person’s bad behavior. I know this.

I had a birthday a few weeks ago and thoughts of what is essentially the last half of my life have been ringing loudly in my head. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to spend the next few years and, if I am fortunate enough, the next few decades.

I am tired of fighting. The idea of forgiveness is on my mind a lot. I want more clean slates, more square ones. And! In case you forgot this was a blog that focuses on feminine presentation this letting go has extended to moving on from my grievance towards Victoria’s Secret, lol.

This past year had a lot of significant moments and I worked very hard on some very big things. I had opportunities and dreams come true that I never thought possible, in both sides of my life. I’m exhausted and satisfied. In some ways I have accomplished everything I’ve wanted to do in male life. I tend to be restless but when it comes to HIS life, well, he’s crossed everything off on his bucket list (God, I HATE that term).

There are still many things she wants to do. Some of them are superficial and some are more altruistic. Now that this year is winding down and much of 2022 was about HIM in many ways, I am looking forward to HER doing new things, having new adventures.

I’ve acknowledged that there’s a part of me that feels a need to rebel, in a way. To go against an authority figure. This is not to say I am out picking fights with cops or anything, but when we’re in our teens many of us question authority and ignore the status quo. These things can be good and really any changes that happen in our world are attributed to these actions.

I think there’s a part of me that NEEDS an enemy, if you will. Someone I can direct my ire and frustration at. A scapegoat, in a way. This isn’t healthy. If I am feeling frustrated with my job I tend to channel that energy towards my boss. I do this because my boss can be… well, who he is. It’s easier to vilify someone who acts the way he does. I suppose I look at his attributes as justification for my attitude towards him.

And maybe I am justified.

But my anger towards him doesn’t change anything. He’s not going to modify his behavior. Heck, he doesn’t even KNOW how angry and annoyed I am towards him.

I mean, I am not going to TELL him. He’s not the type of person that will be receptive to that kind of feedback. He’s more of a “if you don’t like working for me, then quit” type of person.

If I am being honest I daydream about quitting. I know that if I were to leave it would cause a lot of problems for him and he would have a lot of tasks that I currently do to either do himself or delegate to. Quitting a job that for the most part I like for, well, revenge(?) is, well, an interesting choice.

I think one of the best things we can do as individuals is to reflect on ourselves and our behaviors. Maybe how we feel and how we look at things isn’t really fair or objective. Maybe I am not the hero and maybe others aren’t the villains I think I am or they are. Maybe I am the villain in someone else’s life.

My life/lives are… amazing. Ten years ago I would have thought the life/lives I have were unattainable and that I would be forever grateful to have them. The things I wanted a decade ago are the things I have now. I want to acknowledge that. I want to appreciate that.

I want peace. I want to be better at what I take to heart when it comes to what is said to me. I want to stop absorbing negativity and really embrace the song lyric at the beginning of this post.

It’s a new day. It will soon be a new year. Both are perfect opportunities to be better, to be happier.

Love, Hannah

3 thoughts on “Life is What You Make of it

  1. While reading about your conversation with your bosst, I was reminded of a podcast I listened to at the gym last night. It was an episode of “Hidden Brain” entitled “How to complain productively”. There’s a lot more to the episode than productive complaining.

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  2. I am wondering what changed in your bosses life 4 years ago to cause this change. Based on the simple recent experience, the man you cared for many years ago is still in there. What is keeping it hidden? Troubles at home, money, an illness of him or a family member? Something generally has happened when someone makes such an about face.

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  3. I pass on what a friend told me many years ago and it turned out to be true i.e. the majority of bosses are jerks and if you accept that as part of your job description you will realize that there is no reason to be frustrated.

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