In the last few weeks, I’ve had a hard time sleeping. I slump into bed exhausted, then lie there for hours, not quite asleep but barely awake. And when I do fall asleep, I wake up exhausted, even after being in bed for twelve hours. Add that to chronic headaches and I’ve been beyond cranky. The doctor did some tests and found nothing wrong, so he just gave me more codeine.

I’ve been wondering what might be causing this. It’s not quite depression, but maybe I traded in one malady for another. I’ve been through a prolonged period of stress, followed by a calm that’s bordering on ennui, and now I feel unusually anxious, even when I know nothing is wrong. My bills are paid, there’s cash in my account, my baby is fine, but I still find myself uneasy about nothing and everything.

I could blame it on hormones, claim that my daughter’s teenage hormones are influencing mine. Which would be funny, because it’s usually the other way around. Also, scary, because those teenage hormones are going to be around for a while. *shudder* Or maybe – like my dear friend says – it’s just new year angst. To which the apt response is ‘this too shall pass.’

Especially with the help of lots of pictures just like this.
Especially with the help of lots of pictures just like this.

One thing that’s particularly bothering me is gossip. There’s a thin line between genuinely discussing an acquaintance and umbenye. I didn’t realise how thin until I eavesdropped overheard a conversation between some friends of mine. They were talking about – well – me.

In any work environment, there’s a certain ‘clique-ship’. Every department hates the other departments. Marketers hate accountants for being difficult with reimbursements. Accountants hate marketers for showing up late, and faking expenses. Creatives hate everyone for ignoring their genius and blocking their muse. Everyone hates creatives for dressing badly and regularly using words like ‘muse’.

In this case, the conversation I overheard was about my work place in general and me in particular. Apparently, the other people in our building have certain … issues with us. They were upset that I wear jeans and sneakers every day while they have to wear a coat and tie. Also, I leave the office way too early (where early means 7.oo p.m. I’m usually at the office by 7.30 a.m.) They regularly stay until 10.00 or 11.00 p.m.

I can’t really complain about the stuff that was being said, because it’s all true. But something about their tone (and the fact that it was being said behind my back) was hurtful. So I walked in to confront them … only for them to continue with their conversation. If anything, they seemed even more pissed off, now that they had a flesh-and-blood target to attack.

We used to have communal photocopiers and scanners, and some of my colleagues had allegedly left their payslips there. *facepalm* So I was told – quite passionately, how unfair it was that our team earns so much more than they do, yet they work far more hours than us. I didn’t want to get defensive, so I stood there sheepishly until I could find a legitimate excuse to walk away.

With the help of pictures just like this
Like, for example, Quidditch Practice.

It made me think of this documentary I saw on DW-TV. The guy was talking about employees at a car factory in Germany. He said they all do the same work, but have three salary scales – contract, temporary, and permanent. They perform the exact same tasks, but their pay grades vary by a factor of up to three.

It’s only natural for the contract workers to envy and resent the permanent ones, but should the permanent workers be ashamed for earning more or grateful for their good fortune? Should they question the circumstances that put them where they are and challenge the system, or make life better for the contracters?

Should all three groups pay their bills, mind their business, and let management resolve those issues? And if management miraculously finds a way to even out the pay grades, will the previously higher paid individuals feel slighted? (This is probably why people refuse to discuss what they earn in the first place. *Yoda Nod*)

The issue bugs me because I have certain friends that I avoid. I can’t match their lifestyle, so I prefer to stay away. Sadly, the way I expressed my feelings left them feeling like I resent them for being better off. I’ve always assumed they were wrong for thinking that.

But now that I’ve had my own friends ‘resent’ me for earning more, I’m starting to see things a little differently. I either stop blaming one set of friends for misconstruing my words, or I let go of my indignation at the ‘resentment’ of the other set. I can’t have it both ways. You know, having cakes and eating them and all that.

Human nature is such a weird thing. Its perspective is all skewed. The world looks entirely different when you’re doing something versus when you’re having that same thing done to you. Ideally, we should all have the ability, maturity, and sensibility to wear each other’s shoes every once in a while. But like most things in life, it’s much easier said than done. In related news…

Small talk

Someone once asked me if I thought I was smart. I said yes. He said, ‘Well then, what’s the length of a piece of string?’ Of course the answer to that is, ‘It depends,’ which is really no answer at all. Similarly, when I talk about people, it’s conversation, but when they talk about me, it’s gossip. When I avoid my friends because they like places I can’t afford, it’s living within my means. When my friends get mad at me for earning more than them, it’s malice.

When my friends talk about their amazing kids, it’s bragging. When I talk about mine, it’s philosophy. It’s all about perspective, and like my friend says, there are only two types of people in the world – ‘them’ and ‘us’. Naturally, ‘their’ perspective is always more skewed than ‘ours’.

Late last year, I promised my friend I’d focus less on my weaknesses and stop talking about them. Today I’m promising myself I’ll focus less on other people’s weaknesses and stop talking about … other people’s weaknesses. Here’s the thing though – if I can’t talk about my bad points … or anyone else’s … I suppose that means I have to learn polish up my small talk. Yay? *groan*

♫ L.A Boyz ♫ Tori and Kat ♫

130 thoughts on “Gossip and a tiny piece of string

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