Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wrestling an ego to the ground for the turnips

Hump Day
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Pg. D6

As a man of many flaws, I have to admit that one of my worst is sulking when I don't get my way. I'm not sure what started it. Perhaps it worked when I was a kid a few times and then I just kept on using it to win arguments as I aged.

Thankfully, its use as an either intentional or unintentional tactic has waned considerably in adulthood, but it still rears its ugly head from time to time. To be fair to myself, its intentional use is for my own safety and for the safety of others. Quite frankly, I have a way with words and I could verbally gut someone right in front of me if I really wanted to, so keeping my big trap shut is sometimes -- nay, always -- the best thing for everyone involved when I'm really upset.

Recently, in some volunteer work I'm involved in, I was confronted with a situation where I found myself quite insulted and angry. It doesn't matter why. It doesn't matter what. No one did anything wrong. It was pretty much just an ego-bruising situation on my part because at some point I decided that something needed to be handed to me on a silver platter. When it wasn't, I was not impressed. And since I wear my heart on my sleeve, it was kind of hard to hide, although I tried my best.

Egos are tricky. Kept in check, they can be wonderful, giving you the confidence to do great things yet the wisdom to know your limitations. They can also do a person a lot of harm. When you think you're God's gift to humanity, that you can heal the sick with a simple gaze, make money grow on trees by snapping your fingers, and think you can wear tight jeans even though you consider milkshakes a food group, then it may be time to reign in the love for yourself.

Unfortunately, a few people in this volunteer group I'm with didn't realize that I made it a daily habit of turning water into wine -- well, at least in my mind -- and were contemplating choosing someone else for a position that I coveted greatly. Of course, they were well within their right. The last time I checked, we weren't living in (fill in name of your favourite communist country that doesn't hold elections), were we?

So yeah, I got my nose bent out of joint. How dare they impose democracy? The unwashed obviously didn't realize the brilliant mind they were passing over for the job. Heathens! Nothing but heathens, I say! Off with their heads using a rusty can opener!

Well, boohoo for me, because that's life. Thankfully, my bruised ego repaired itself somewhat over the weekend and I evolved back into adulthood from sooky-babyness and I realized that life would go on if my plans didn't go as I had hoped. Besides, others in the group are just as well-intentioned as I was. Who was I to declare myself the only person fit to do a job?

My first intention when I was still wallowing in self-pity was to take my marbles and go home. OK, so you people won't elect me "Assistant Deputy Vice-President of Turnip Peeling on Tuesdays in Months with Rs in Them"? Well fine! I'm not talking to any of you again and you're going to pay dearly for your transgression. How stupid are you, anyway? Don't you realize that I'm an expert turnip peeler?

Not my proudest moment on the maturity scale, let me tell you, but nothing that several hours of self-talk couldn't cure. Eventually, my bruised ego had a heart-to-heart chat with my brain and came to the conclusion that I should just accept that the world may not revolve around me. (Man, I hate it when that happens!)

When the waters of Ego Ocean calmed down after Hurricane Kick-in-the-Pants blew through, I reminded myself of something that I truly believe: that everything happens for a reason . . . to teach us lessons about ourselves so that we can learn and grow into better people. (Feel free to grab a tissue if you start choking up here. I'll wait patiently by while you break down into uncontrollable sobs of sympathy for me.)

When something you perceive as negative happens to you, you can either seek revenge or wallow in self-pity and continue the cycle of negativity, or maybe -- just maybe -- accept and embrace that this is supposed to be happening so that you can learn from it. Interesting thought, huh?

So when I found myself falling into that old horrible sulking habit, I forced myself out of it, knowing that it would not serve me well at all. Sure, people would notice that I was not a happy camper, but to take something so personally was only doing myself the harm -- not anyone else. The only person losing sleep would be me. The only person upset would be me. The only person embarrassed would be me.

But when you're involved in volunteer work, that's not true. Because those "turnips" that the organization deals with on a daily basis would be hurt, too. You see, those turnips are the very reason why I became involved in the first place -- and for me to place my bruised ego as more important than one of those pitiful turnips that needs to be peeled on a Tuesday in a month with an "R" in it -- well, you get the picture.

Hey, I'm not great at metaphors, so sue me. The turnips symbolize the clients of the organization I'm volunteering with. The turnips are what are important! Not my ego. (Feel free to start weeping again now that you know what the heck I'm talking about.)

I don't know if I'll ever be elected to that position in the organization, but either way, I'll force myself to keep on peelin' those turnips the best that I can, not to mention coming up with better metaphors.

4 comments:

Barbara said...

......and the turnips thank you!
:-) Barb

nineteenandeightyone said...

Perhaps you should examine why you decided to start peeling turnips in the first place. I'm sure it wasn't for a selfish reason. In my mind, volunteer work is a very selfless act, I would try not to let politics get in the way.
:) Lona

Brian Cormier said...

Well that's exactly what I did. When I got back to the "root" of why I got involved, it was to help the "turnips"...

nineteenandeightyone said...

Well the turnips thank you!
My conscience and ego have had some serious battles too man.

;) Take care
Lona