Despite the fact that they were spoken by Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride under entirely different circumstances, those two words sum up my career journey this year. Between no call backs for interviews and starting three new (part-time) jobs this year, I’m now a full-fledged newbie (an oxymoron, I believe) at the age of 36, and I have never felt dumber. I recently began working two short shifts at an apparently hotly contested campus where I am housed in the corner of a computer lab that, according to some higher up, cannot be referred to as a library. Therefore, everyone who comes in believes that I am an IT person which I am most definitely not…especially according to my name tag that clearly reads “Library.” Nonetheless, I have schooled dozens of students in the art of logging in and locating printers on the network.
Just two weeks into the semester, I not only nearly lost my marbles, but I almost pulled them out and threw them at someone…specifically a professor. The situation was a printing problem, and I applied my limited repertoire of skills unsuccessfully to the issue. I then proceeded to inform the professor that this was an IT question instead of a library question so it was outside my skill set. He proceeded to tell his entire class…that had followed him into the library to stand around and wait…that he had asked the expert, but he still couldn’t print. I was slightly taken aback by this pronouncement so much so that I retreated to my desk and failed to call the IT person for help. First of all, the name tag clearly states “Library” NOT “IT/Technology.” Second this was only the second time in my life that a professor had been condescending toward me. I was a teenager the first time and somewhat incapable of defending myself. This time felt like a slap, and I had to rope in the righteous anger.
So instead of saying, “I’m sorry that with your graduate degree you don’t know how to print or treat someone else like a human being,” I just decided to return to my corner where I promptly hated everyone for the next two hours. Then I fled. I will say that it’s a sad state when I’m more excited about going to the doctor than going to work.
At my two other new jobs, the humiliation largely comes from not knowing all the skills just yet, but everyone is kind enough to help when I have questions. Why does there always have to be one person who has to humiliate someone else to make himself feel better? I understand enough about human nature, and I’ve observed enough human character to know this happens. However, it makes the figurative slap no less painful and sharp.
I openly acknowledge that I find the verse Matthew 5:39 difficult to uphold. I tend to be more of an Agent J in Men in Black kind of person, “Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing.” I don’t like to start a fight, but it is very tempting to finish it even though I’m not supposed to finish that kind of fight. I had no control over the fact that this professor waited until after class to print something while bringing his entire class in tow. I am NOT an IT person responsible for fixing computer issues. I also cannot control how another person behaves. What I CAN control is how I react to a situation.
That day I was insecure because of how I was treated. The next day I was angry. A few days after that I finally let it go because I began to see an advantage to humility/humbleness. Humility just lets that stuff go, but I’m finding that I currently have to work through the stages to get to humility. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach the level of going straight to humility, but I’m working on it.
“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” ~Mother Teresa