Been betrayed? Had the rug pulled from under your feet? Ever had someone’s lies smack you over the head, then later, smack you over the head again with the realisation that you’re now going to get into a steaming barrel of trouble? False promises strung you along? Did someone, or something you cared about, decide that actually they’re gonna take credit for all your hard work?
Being a jejune is fun, but it’s only a matter of time before someone robs off with your naiveté, never to be seen again as you suddenly realise people DO talk and apply The Bullshit. Even when we’re pretty sure we burned off all our negative karma for the year, getting screwed over by someone you trust is a rite of passage. Losing your virginity, getting completely wasted for the first time – it’s like that only, nowhere near as fun. And unfortunately, it’s a necessary experience that has to be learned from.
For example, for a long time I was over the moon to be working for people I trusted, worked very hard for (but deep down, it seemed a little too good to be true, and promised over-the-odds in return).
Still it worked for a time. And to be fair to them, they gave me a lovely couple of years where I met loads of new people, learned a LOT very quickly and I did the best I could to prove how much I liked what they’re about. I’ve most likely screwed over a few people without even realising. And even now – I like them as people and would still recommend them highly as a good learning-ground for new skills.
But then Miss Deep-Down once again proved her reputation as gut instinct to be right. And I got royally fucked.
I was shocked. I really didn’t see it coming.
“Sometimes you do something, and you get screwed. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t do, and you get screwed.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
The fact that I still like these people, called their office home, volunteered to work without pay; still grateful for everything – and will be for years to come – just made it all the more heartbreaking and infuriating; and it just came to point where I had to be brave enough to let go, because they weren’t going to.
On the other hand… I definitely should have seen it coming. When you’re taken on as an apprentice, you’re never seen as an equal, but as a skivvy with too much to learn. For little 21-year-old me, I thought it meant it I was being given an opportunity to work up to, to learn from; etc. Not even 7 months went by when after investing 2 years of time, money, and… love, actually, into a cause and people I really wanted to be a part of; someone got hired pretty much instantly over my efforts along with a guarantee of pay and an office that I realised, huh: I’m on the way out??
I have learned that if you get hired after being the intern, unfortunately people will still remember you as the intern if you don’t leave first. If you’re good at what you do, trust yourself. There will be a job out there that can offer you better money and more respect. Like the fade-to-white edit in the movie where you flashback and remember all the little signs from before, that’s when the real bullshit began. There are people in this world whose only purpose to you is to make you know the things you really didn’t want to know.
I’m thankful. It was the last nail in innocence casket. After weeping like a chump in some hipster cafe bathroom when it finally hit me, I suddenly got angry and started kicking off like this:
Twats. So, here’s some tips I can offer you from what I’ve learned. While I cannot physically stop you from getting screwed, I can definitely offer consolation and a few hints that’ll help get on with your life faster once it’s happened.
1. Stand up… And relax. Turns out that somehow, you’re a bit nicer than people you really liked. That’s cool. Carry on being nice, but stop being a scared doormat!
Not so much a tip as RULE ONE of my new Fight Club. There are a lot of cruel, sick motherfuckers in this world. There’s also a lot of idiots who will just break your heart (worse, they don’t even know this, which makes them twice as lethal) and if you don’t stand up and stand them down, they will continue to wreck your world.
But while the world, coincidentally, owes you sweet F.A., if something is yours, you must ask for it.
I am still massively learning this lesson in most aspects of my life but I think it’s a case of making the right decision as when to stand up, when to help someone, and when they can go faff-off and do it themselves. Again: still learning.
2. Stay organised. Know yourself: do the things you’ll say you’ll do. If you know you can’t do something, don’t promise it.
Managing expectations! Being in control of your own shit! Etcetera! Acting with integrity is probably the first thing you learn as a grown-up. Sometimes though, you can get all enthusiastic and think you can take on the world, please everyone on your own and then BAM! You’re doing too much. This goes for relationships, work, family, friends, care – everything. This tip is more of a prevention measure: don’t give people reason to screw you.
3. Life isn’t fair – but you still have to be open for it.
Before you reach for the pity-bucket (although most will say this is the necessary and most dangerous part of the grieving process -because you have to step out of that pity bucket again), this is more of a thing that you have to accept. REALLY accept. Life is suffering. People can be wankers. Some people even have bad intentions and want nothing more than to steal or ruin what you’ve got. Shops will short change you. You can put trust in people who will throw it away. Sometimes you can love the wrong people. And so on. The trick is to not let it force you into a cave. It’s something we all have to live through and gaining perspective again an be a little rough. The waitress who messed up your order and couldn’t even smile at you? Ever thought she might be having a rough day too? Exactly. Life isn’t fair for all of us, to a whole infinite spectrum of degrees, and the sooner we all accept that, the sooner we can stop screwing each other over so much.
Until this happens, what you have to do is be on guard, but don’t keep your guard up.
4. Why did nobody tell me this was going to happen?
But they did tell you. With relationships – no-one can tell you this is going to happen when the speakers of what-you-thought-was-love are on full blast, along with all that dopamine your brain’s been associating with her/him for so long. Likewise, with work, it’s sooooo easy to get screwed when you’re a fresher again. I.E., a life-fresher.
Nobody tells you this, because it doesn’t make for the most illuminating of graduation speeches or Good Luck cards. The cosy cushions of school and college meant you had equally cushy professors whose entire job was about helping carve out a path of intellectual exploration just for you, along a friendly boot-up-the-crack to help you stay on track. In the real world, most managers will never be this nice. Or more pertinently, this smart.
5. You can get screwed over by a lack of feedback.
If they don’t want to tell you they think it’s broke, they don’t want you to help fix it.In relationships an on Oprah, it’s called lack-of-communication. In work, it’s called ‘we couldn’t give a fuck’. So stop giving a fuck!
6. Freelancing? Welcome to Getting Screwed Over Monthly. This will be your life. And always write contracts.
I have a feeling that this is what the company I worked for wanted to teach me. Save yourself the trouble and watch this indie documentary instead, then change the way you work (38 mins):
7. “People Suck.” -is a really easy conclusion to come to.
Don’t let the bastards grind you down. I always like to remember that George Orwell got rejected 22 times before getting published.
It’s impossible to believe that the world has your best interests at heart, because it doesn’t. And just like in the movies, there are even people out there who just want to mock you and make you suffer. People really can be crappy.
The same way people turn to Sun Tzu when they need to fight, Radiohead when their heart’s broke, Fight Club (on Kindle…) has been immensely useful in getting over this chapter.
“For thousands of years, human beings had screwed up and trashed and crapped on this planet, and now history expected me to clean up after everyone. I have to wash out and flatten my soup cans. And account for every drop of used motor oil.
And I have to foot the bill for nuclear waste and buried gasoline tanks and landfilled toxic sludge dumped a generation before I was born.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club