People: Good, Bad, Ugly

Clint Eastwood in the
1966 Sergio Leone film.

Working with people is hard.
I mean, you’ve met PEOPLE right?!
Through my work in the theatre and education, I’ve worked with many kinds of people: from little pre-school kids to senior citizens; small town-ers and city folk; gay, straight, trans; Christian, Hindu, Atheist; all shapes and colors.

Every single one of them a person, regardless of category.
Each one capable of being good, bad, and ugly.
Just as I am capable of being good, bad, and ugly.
I have people who love me and would never say a negative word about me, but I know there are others who don’t and would.

Some people we are “given”–the families we’re born into and the neighbors in the community we grew up in.
Some people we discover along the way.
Some good.
Some bad.
Some ugly.

Sometimes–a lot of times–it feels as though we have no choice in the matter.
But this is a reminder–for me, for you–that we DO have a choice in the people we allow to influence our lives. We have a choice.

Recently, a friend wrote about choosing what social media posts are “for us”, reminding readers that we have control over what we choose to read and allow to influence our lives.

This is also true of the people we allow to impact our lives.

Now, this is not to say that we won’t have to deal with people that we don’t like. This is the world, after all, and people are everywhere.

As leaders in businesses and organizations, we don’t have to employ people who make the work miserable for us or others. Perhaps we have to suffer through the current project, but we do not have to work with that person again. There are other people. Seek them out!

As consumers, we do not need to frequent businesses where the representative was rude or provided poor service. There are other places. Try another!

As humans, we do not have to work at jobs where we are made to feel less than. THERE ARE OTHER JOBS. Go find one!

Today I guest starred as an 8th grade English teacher for the day, and when I was checking out at the school’s office, the secretary stopped me to tell me that the principal wanted me to know that I was “the best sub they’d ever had.” (I don’t know what he witnessed. Maybe he watched from the hallway?) And I looked her in the eye, with tears in my own, thanked her for that kindness and told her I would not be back.

Because I can choose to not go to a school where the students are ugly to me. This, of course, was not all of them. The majority are fine. A few are lovely. But some are ugly** enough that I will not go back there–BECAUSE I CAN CHOOSE TO NOT ALLOW THAT IN MY LIFE.

(**NOTE: I realize that it is extremely unlikely that I am the reason they’re being ugly. I know that some of these students have lives chock-full of ugliness, it’s all they know and that is what comes out.)

The secretary was so kind and apologetic and principal so complimentary, perhaps it would give me pause…but not enough to take the abuse another day.

There are other places where the kids are kind and excited to see me. I’ll go there.
Because I can choose who I allow in my life, and the more ugly I allow, the more likely the ugly will come out in me.

I’m Summer.
I’m 38.
I’ve really only learned this over the past year. It’s up to me who I work with and spend time with.
For those people who are somehow “built in” to my life who are challenging, who I “have to” deal with on occasion, I can choose how much time I allow them; I can choose to not engage; I can love them and pray for them and not allow them to play a role in my life.

I can choose my people.
I choose the good-for-me.
I’ll pass on the bad and the ugly.

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