Thick Skin

I entered work very cautiously this year. There were so many changes that happened in rapid succession…all of which had the potential to stir trouble. Things started to stabilize, and I felt myself growing more and more relieved that the collective objective was winning over any individual agenda. Over the past two weeks though, individual agendas reared their ugly heads in a way I haven’t experienced in a while.

I’ve made a massive effort to change how I respond to challenges at work. Throughout the past 11 and a half years, I’ve had to endure repeated personal attacks at my workplace…a few outright to my face, most behind my back. And with the most recent one, my reaction and response are in direct conflict with one another.

I’ve heard these words regularly throughout my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been someone who didn’t take things personally (mostly because I was too young and naive to “read in between the lines”, and also because I had this habit of just brushing things off and moving on). I don’t hold a grudge and forget very easily. As a result, the natural assumption is that I have thick skin…and the assumption would be correct. More often than not though, the thickest skins hide the softest hearts.

For the longest time I’ve been of the mindset that because I work in education, I’ll take more than I should for the sake of the end goal (this being the wellbeing and benefit of the learners we serve).

But I am sick and tired of being at the receiving end of abuse, simply because I “can handle it”.

If I am being unfairly questioned on my character, work ethic and professional conduct and integrity, I am going to take it personally.

And I should not have to just take abuse for the sake of the greater good. I should not have to endure people’s duplicity in order to create a fake sense of togetherness or team spirit. I am not Jesus, and I have decided to take a firmer stand where necessary.

Here’s the thing about thick skin… At the end of the day, it’s still skin. If you find the right tool and slice at it long enough, it will eventually bleed.

The next time you come across someone with thick skin just remember…just because they don’t express their pain verbally or visibly, doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

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