I've been working at a small company. They've been paying me like a contractor. The boss said he'd like to put me on the regular payroll, full-time if I want or part-time. I chose part-time.
The boss is a bit of a bully. I don't want to commit in case I can't stand it after a while. Other than that, the atmosphere is laid back. The thing I like about it is I get to write lots of code and do interesting things. I also can come and go when I want.
I noticed that there are people in the office he does not bully. Mostly those people are men and sales people and white. Other men he teases. Women he speaks to condescendingly. He also has absolutely no idea about how computers work on the inside and this makes it difficult to be a programmer for him. He's intimidated and overcompensates by being unreasonable about things. For these reasons I won't commit to the job. I'll just do it while I can tolerate it.
I do not like bullies. Meanness is something I got away from at the name-brand job I worked at. When I left, I swore I would never put up with working with sociopaths again. It's too damaging and not worth the money.
I was bullied all through my school-age years by other children and by people in my family, too. Back then everyone drilled it into me that I am ugly and worthless. It is true, I am ugly, or at least I know I'm not pretty. Not being pretty meant that I found other ways to be valuable.
One of those ways was by being smart. I'm not the smartest person in the world, but I'm smart enough. At some things anyway. At other things, I'm hopelessly stupid.
Another way was through hiking. That was quite accidental since I was also bullied for being non-athletic. And here I am in my older years an athlete, a hiker, a long-distance hiker, and some would say that makes me an elite athlete, although I don't think walking a long way takes any super-human capabilities.
Another way I found to have worth is through making a valuable contribution to my community. I have a web site that helps people and makes people happy (not this one, but my other one.) It's the most successful thing I've ever done in my life. I may not be an activist or someone who works with the disabled or something like that, but I make people happy every day.
I seek out things to do that make me happy. Like playing music and hiking and following my interests wherever they lead. I'm not just a lump. I get involved and stay challenged while having fun.
Still, whenever someone is mean to me, I instantly remember all the feelings I had as a kid. I felt worthless and wished I had never been born. I often feel like I'm just waiting for the end. Waiting for it to all be over with finally. It matters little that I can walk 35 miles in one day or that I can write a computer program or that I can play a musical instrument or that I'm able to reinvent myself every few years. I'm worthless, shouldn't have been born, don't belong here in this mean world. Sometimes I think to myself that I hate this mean world as much as it seems to hate me. I wonder how to escape.
People say you shouldn't let those old messages control you, but they don't understand. I can stand apart from what is happening, see that my new boss' behavior has nothing to do with me, and yet it doesn't make the feelings go away. The Man can tell me I'm beautiful but I am not blind when I look in the mirror. I know the truth. In the regular world, there are mean people and they are mean because it works and they never go away and they never stop being mean and there never ceases to be more mean people wherever you go. And so all there is to do is tolerate them and wait for the day when I never have to deal with them again.
At the same time, I know a place in the world exists where none of that matters. It's out on the trail where I get to be just me, where my body moves like anybody else's body, and works as well as anybody else's and doesn't have to be beautiful to bring beauty to me.