Pre-teen Angst

I often have to remind myself I’m a grown woman. Today was one of those days.

I’m a corporate trainer. Normally I love facilitating classes. It’s fun, I get to meet new people, I get to visit a different office, it’s an exhilarating day. Except for when it’s not. Like today.

The second thing I noticed when I entered the room was the dour look on everyone’s face, that look of “I really don’t want to be here but was told I must attend.” The first thing I noticed was that the room was 85 degrees and had no air conditioning or windows, only fans that slowly shoved the hot air from one side of the room to the other. I looked around, wondering what the third strike would be.

They weren’t a talkative bunch. To say the least. By the end of my introduction, I realized I was going to have to work arduously if I wanted those in the room to be appropriately labeled participants. Which was fine, I like a challenge. Usually.

As I was elaborating on one of my oh so intriguing Powerpoint slides, I sensed something towards the back of the room. In my peripheral vision I noticed the table of all women mouthing sarcastic comments to each other. I thought I saw a note being passed. I started walking the room, hoping my movement would trigger their attention. A couple of eye rolls followed. I asked a question, hoping a dynamic discussion would ensue. Instead, I was met by blank stares. I asked a more direct question and was met by shoulder shrugs. As I worked the room, whenever I turned towards them they would snicker then try to hide their laughs. I was no longer a corporate trainer for a multi-million dollar company. I was in the halls of my junior high, being shunned by the popular girls.

On paper you would have thought I was popular. I was a cheerleader. I played sports. But I never really understood what the hype was about. I didn’t watch tv. I didn’t follow the latest rock stars. I didn’t wear designer clothes. I preferred to read books or do my homework. But I tried so hard to fit in. Growing up in a small, conservative southern town, what I wanted more than anything else was normalcy. To be like everyone else. But I wasn’t.

And still am not. I continued the class, hoping their immature behavior would self-correct. It didn’t. Should I have said something? Maybe. Did I? No. Will I in future classes? Probably. What I realized, in hindsight, is that you can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself.

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