Sunday, May 23, 2010

Relinquishing the Crown

 It is well-documented on this blog that I consider myself ideally suited for two positions:

1. Queen of England, or

2. Oprah.

(You may say, "Deb, those aren't positions, they are people," to which I would reply, "Shut up and fetch my tiara/producer/pool servant.")

Knowing that, it may surprise you to know that I am currently stepping down from my current throne.  Yes, it is hard, but I have come to the conclusion that I am no longer fit to wear the crown.  I am speaking, of course, of my current position as Queen of Passive-Aggressiveness.

I loathe passive-aggressive behavior, which is why I was so surprised to learn that I am the reigning Queen.  "Deb!" you say.  "Not you, you couldn't possibly be passive-aggressive!"  To which I reply, "Of course, you're right."  And then I roll my eyes and write nasty things about you in my Enemies List (or "journal").

I have been doing some rare introspection lately, and I have noticed that I say certain things too often:

"It's going to be a disaster, but I won't say anything."

"They probably need me to do it, but if they need me, they can ask me."

"I won't call her.  If she wants to talk, she'll call me."  (Not you, Momz.)

"Well, I guess we'll try it their way, and when it is a COMPLETE AND UTTER FAILURE AND THE WHOLE PLACE BURNS DOWN, I guess they'll have learned their lesson."  (Slightly exaggerated.)

Further introspection has led me to understand that I don't do this deliberately, it is my defense to feeling unappreciated and overloaded.  Drawing on the wisdom of the ages, "You can only change your own behavior," (Either Dr. Phil or Alice Cooper), I have begun being extremely proactive.  A sample conversation with me now goes like this.

"There is a completely random event coming up that has nothing to do with you," says someone.
"Do you want me to get a musical number ready?" I ask.


"There is a completely random event coming up that has nothing to do with you," says someone.
"Wow, I'm sorry to miss that," I say.  Or, perhaps, "You'll do a great job!"

-or, best of all-

"Hi, someone who hasn't yet contacted me for help but will certainly need it and wait until the last moment to ask me!  Let me help you!" says Deb.
"Thank you," says someone, sometimes bursting into tears.

The remarkable thing about this new approach is that I am much, much more relaxed.  I no longer sit there wondering when or if I will be asked to deal with something.  I ask outright, and go from there.

I don't do what I do for appreciation, but I wonder if my former passive-aggressiveness was my way of trying to force people into appreciating me.  Not my friends, or my family, but my co-workers and more casual acquaintances.  It's very self-defeating; I think if I make them come ask me at the last minute, they will appreciate me, but if they are thoughtless enough to wait that long, why do I assume they'll be appreciative?  Then again, if I just pop up randomly and offer to do what they need me to do, won't they just take me for granted and, perhaps, assume that what I do is so easy I don't need any notice or warning?

With the end of the school year upon us, it is the time for me to make my resolutions for next year.  I'm going to take a risk and resolve to be far less passive-aggressive at work.  I will continue to anticipate, volunteer, and meddle.  Hopefully this will result in a clearer path and a happier me.

But I promise to keep up the silent heckling at staff development.


Kristina P. said...

I love your introspection. I feel like I could have written it.

Boy Mom said...

I love passive aggressive behavior nearly as much as I love silent heckling.

Even better is people who are passive-aggressive for and in behalf of another person that's selfless self-defeating behavior.

Barbaloot said...

I am definitely guilty of passive agressive behavior. I hadn't thought of it before, but that whole 'making people appreciate me' thing is probly part of that. I guess it's better to be aware of that, right? Even though I was perfectly happy being ignorant of it:)