“Just don’t let it bother you!”

I heard back from the provincial utility authority: A letter of regret, stating that I would not be hired on as an electrical apprentice. I suppose it’s a bit of a letdown, but mostly I don’t really care, which is surprising considering how wound up I was about the whole screening process. Really, if I’d been rejected right away, I’d be upset, because I had so much emotional investment in trying to succeed… More than a month has since passed and I’m all like, “Meh. Whatevs.”

Which isn’t to say that I won’t be applying next time ’round, cuz I will!

So I started back at trade school two weeks ago, and it was a total reunion show: Instructors stopping me to say hello and ask what I’ve been up to this past year, old classmates also back for their Year 2 training, and tons of guys from the construction site taking all different levels of courses, who remember me as the lottery girl. Despite being the only woman in my class of 16 students (and possibly one of only four in the building…?), and despite the shitty time I had last time I was here, I feel remarkably comfortable and confident. I feel like I belong: It’s a huge shift from where I was at 14 months ago.

Why the shift? Partly it’s because I put in those months at the construction site, which proved to me that I could make it, even in the sort of trades environment I’m not especially keen about. Partly it’s because I was chosen to try out for the hydr0 apprenticeship, which was a real honour.

Partly it’s because I’ve got a totally different attitude.

Over the years, my righteous anger over oppressive bullshit has often been met with a wide range of folks telling me I should just relax, calm down, stop taking everything so seriously, get over it, etc etc etc. Which is a pretty common reaction, from people who don’t feel themselves to be targeted by hate: Somehow, sexism and homophobia and racism and ablism are hilarious or no big deal, if you’re not the butt of the joke. I resent this.

And yet resentment is tiring. So is being angry, no matter how righteously so. And devoting time and energy to meeting with authority figures and pushing for systemic change? That’s fucking exhausting.

At the end of the electrical entry level training program I did last year, I was pretty burnt out, from all that shit. I don’t regret it, and I don’t think I could have done anything differently, because that was where I was at. However, I decided that if I was going to continue in the trade, I was going to stop.

I took it as an experiment of sorts: Being the sort of person who has rather reliably called people out on their oppressive words/behaviours/assumptions over the years, I really didn’t know how my life would be different if I shut up for a while.

To be sure, I knew I’d be unable to ignore comments or action directed at myself or my loved ones, but I decided to let go of the microagressions. I still tell my friends and family about these events, especially when it was something totally absurd like the sexual innuendo from my crew safety officer (the very person at the construction site to whom I would report such incidences!), but before getting upset, I ask myself if it is worth it.

What would I gain?

What would I lose?

I began to value my time and emotional energy as being much more important than the stupid deeds and opinions of other.

After years of being told “Just don’t let it bother you!”, I finally tried not letting it bother me.

Overall, it’s been great.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m still fiercely mean and critical and liable to bring down all sorts of harshness on someone who tells me that queers should die and whites are naturally superior and women belong in the kitchen and fatties should hide their bodies and anyone who can’t easily walk up that flight of stairs should simply accept it instead of requesting accessibility.  And I’m more committed than ever to the organizing I’m doing with the local radical queer events collective.

But if my new classmates diss our homework by saying it’s “gay”? I’m just not engaging. I don’t have time. If they said this in a conversation that includes me, I probably won’t be able to resist commenting “Hey, I’m gay too! No wonder I’m so good at these assignments!” then laughing very hard, but that’s about it.

My new strategy is all about self-preservation, and so far, it’s working.  I feel happy.  I acknowledge that the world is fucked up, and I’m making peace with the deliberate steps I’m taking to address this fact while learning to be okay with all the shit I just can’t handle.  One day I will take it on again, but this is me at the moment, taking a break.

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2 responses to ““Just don’t let it bother you!”

  1. Maya Angelou says that words are power, and that we must be careful the words we speak, but also the words we allow into ourselves. Words get in the air, into our clothes, into our minds and then into our spirits. She says that she doesn’t allow certain language to be spoken in her home and she is quite outspoken about this.

    Resentments are the number one killer. They are a waste of time. It seems you are growing up and learning to be confident in yourself and in your abilities. Easy does it and Let it Go come to mind.

    We are powerless over people, places and things my friend, if you allow others to dictate how you act and react, you give them power they don’t deserve. Don’t engage them. And if you hear something detestable then say something, speak up, make it right. Men are pigs we know this already. What can you do about them, not very much. They will be who they are, but YOU are who you are. We are all growing up trying to find our ways and your journey is far from over.

    You’ve come a long way in your professional progress and you should be proud of that. I would not advise you to sink to the level of those who seem to grate your last good nerve with their words of negativity.

    Every moment is an opportunity to affect change. Be the woman you are and be wise with your words, how you use them, why you use them, and with whom. Sometimes we have to walk that fine line of political correctness and sometimes shit happens. As long as it isn’t on your shift.

    Another chance will come up for you to apply for that job again, and you will be farther down the road of education so that will work in your favor. It’s all in a days work, I guess.

    Keep to your side of the street. And keep it clean. That’s your job in the grand scheme of things. Fuck the rest of them, as long as you don’t allow others to litter on your side emotionally and/or verbally.

    All will be well. Keep us posted on your progress.

    Jeremy

    • feralgeographer

      Thanks so much for your kind and inspiring words, Jeremy… You have no idea how much I appreciate your message.  I’ve actually copied it out and stuck it into the front of my binder, so that I can read it during class. 

      Thank you.

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