The meritocratic fool: not noticed, but not rewarded.

Quite oddly, it’s actually a very difficult thing for me to hear, and perhaps, by extension, to integrate and accept.

We were discussing a mutual co-worker who appears to have alienated a good many people due to her complaining, back-stabbing, negativity and overall unfriendly vibe despite her superior abilities. This person might have been overlooked for an internal promotion due to her “stellar” personality. We don’t know this with certainty, but we have a strong suspicion.

Anyhow, we discussed this co-worker’s predicament and contrasted her with another employee in her department who is well-liked and popular and who, it turns out, was offered an opportunity to “move up” within the company regardless of the fact he didn’t seek it out, and despite the fact he is very average ability. Essentially, the opportunity fell in his lap. Quite an opposite situation of the other person we spoke of. He represents a jovial, cooperative employee who was rewarded for his outgoing attitude.

I joked, somewhat facetiously, “and then there are those of us who are friendly, hard-working, and sharp but who always get overlooked.” She looked at me and told me blankly, “You are not friendly.”

OK, I know this.

But, see…it’s not that I am not friendly. It’s that I have simply integrated this outward expression of utter neutrality. I treat everyone equally, I barely conceal my distaste, disguised as indifference and aloofness, for most people. I don’t treat them badly, however. I am respectful, or at the very least, accepting. In other words, I give people the time of day. I don’t shine them on or treat them like crap. However, I do not dabble in BS, small talk, fluff talk, routine chit chat, superficial inanities. I don’t go out of my way to visit people, to laugh and bond over that verbal glue that holds the human race together. In this respect, I am not “friendly” if that is to be defined as the profuse expression of artificial positivism and disingenuous validations. I compliment rarely and humor nothing which I don’t see worthy of my time. But I am friendly in the respect that I will say “hi” and even smile for people. I am not a grave, dire person but I also don’t live outside myself and thus, pay little attention to others in a flagrant, tryhard manner. My demeanor is closed off from others in that I do not acknowledge them or seek approval of the outside world.

I’ve often joked with my family and close acquaintances that I am fully capable, if the situation called for it, of sitting in an empty room for a day while staring at the wall. I could do this. It would not bother me. There is enough of an internal mental life and concomitant dialog batting around my brain that this hypothetical situation would not be unbearable to me. I am that much of an introvert.

Now I know all this, but perhaps, when pointed out by someone, it all comes crashing down.

Oh my god. What have I done!

Who am I?

What have I become.

And of course, I have shut the door on so many opportunities by virtue of my behavior and social inaccessibility. I have not let the world in nor have I sought it out. I am content in my own smoldering pot of silence and inward fixation. Knowing this is one thing; having it pointed out, another.

Acceptance is cruel, but really, ultimately, I don’t think I care much or I would have embarked on some route of change and improvement. Instead, I just shrug it off with a mighty “fuck it.” I am happy with who I am.

I am a meritocratic fool. I meander through this life expecting that one day, in spite of myself, I will be surprised and rewarded for my mind and work ethic, solely. I suppose the fact I have survived thus far in this industry is a testament to my merit, and little else, for the entertainment industry is one large, rampant adult social playground of infinite falsities and social duplicity. Merit is fine in the Industry, but you gotta bring lots of other garbage to the table or you will be professionally stillborn. In my case, I believe merit makes up about 93% of my standing while the other 7% is pure personal innocuousness.

Not noticed, but not rewarded.