So this morning, I’m sleeping like the precious angel I am. Mind you, I no longer have my own bedroom, so I settled for the couch. The mornings that my mom carpools to work, she comes and sits in her “waiting chair.” Yes, she named it her waiting chair. I’m a decently heavy sleeper, so this usually doesn’t bother me. So she sees me sleeping, looks at me for a second, and makes a statement.
“I know you aren’t sleeping on my good decorating pillow. Don’t you see that’s not a pillow for sleeping? Go get one of those raggedy pillows and sleep on that.”
So, instead of arguing about what pillow is meant for what, I removed it from under my head. It’s a pillow, me sleeping on it isn’t going to do anything. So, I went back to sleep. Two minutes later, I hear the tv turn on. Mind you, I am asleep. She turns it up and casually watches while checking email on her new cell phone that she won’t let me see. I’m feeling a little bold so I get up and turn it down.
She looks at me like this and says
“Now how do you think I’m supposed to hear that.” She rolls her eyes, turns it up, and continues about her business.
Once again, I lose.
Charlotte will always make the rules and regulations for this house. What she says goes. We are expected to abide or well get over it. No exceptions. I asked her if I could make a simple rule and that was that she doesn’t repeat things over and over again. She said this is her house, I don’t get to make any rules.
Well, that’s how life operates I’ve learned. We go from place to place, system to system and have to learn their rules of the game. We have to learn the “Virginia Tech way” or the “McDonald’s way.” When we don’t, we get left behind. We ridicule the system for being unfair or not caring about its members. We criticize and settle for discomfort until a new opportuntity presents itself. When we don’t learn the rules of the game, we become that awkward player that eventually doesn’t get picked for the team anymore. We become that person that is consistently unhappy. We become that person who everyone says “finally” when he or she announce his or her departure.
Now, I’m not a big one for “rules” and all that, but I’m going to credit that to me being a young and dumb graduate student. However, I do know that you have to get in where you fit in. There are some things I did at Salisbury that aren’t going to fly at Virginia Tech. I had a lip ring all summer at Coastal Carolina while serving in a professional role– they loved it! When I wore it at Virginia Tech, I was looked like this by several people. It’s not that it made me less of a person, it just didn’t fit into their rules of the game. No one told me to take it out, but I felt this discomfort, so I did something about it. I took it out and adapted. To me, this wasn’t changing who I was. To me, this was me making sure that I didn’t let something as simple as a lip ring disvalue me as a new person to the people who would quickly form an uninformed opinion about me.
There will always be a few things that are worth shaking or challenging the “rules” a little bit, but chose those carefully. For example, I want a pet. Professionals at VT can have pets, but grads cannot. While I’m sure I don’t understand all the context behind why we cannot, I consistently ask and voice my reasons why I believe I should be allowed to have a pet. Challenging the rules doesn’t mean going out and buying a 50lb dog to make a point. That would just be foolish AND I might lose my job. But working within the system and challenging the rules means appropriately advocating for my concerns, but recognizing at the end of the day there is a reason behind the rule. Will not having a dog change my experience? No, but I’d still like one and feel like I have the support to voice that when appropriate to the appropriate people. For me being probably the most inappropriate person, I sure am saying appropriate a lot.
Rules exist for a reason and it’s probably best to learn them before you try to break them. My director of Housing & Residence Life taught me a valuable lesson when she said she would first get a lay of the land for six months before making any major decisions. Sometimes we just have to sit back and learn the rules of the game before pulling up a seat at the table. If we don’t, well we’ll see how far we make it. You gotta get in where you fit in.
In another post or so, I’m going to contradict this entire thing and talk about when rules interfere with passion and prevent upward growth and creativity. That’s wall you call danger. For now, know the rules and proceed with caution. Next, break all the rules and get the naysayers on your team. Not really, but it’ll make more sense later.
Let me go find an appropriate pillow and go back to sleep.