Never, till today, have I fully understood why gossiping was considered an awful thing to do. But it turns out I didn’t actually understand the true meaning of gossiping. Apparently it isn’t just having a little whisper to your friend to get it off your chest; in fact it’s the other end of the scale. It’s spreading rumours, and interfering with not only people’s private lives but also they’re professional ones. Criticising and judging them for something you think they are guilty of or have heard about, but never saying anything to their face. Essentially it’s Chinese whispers but we are not on the playground anymore; this is people’s self esteem, livelihoods and relationships hanging in the balance.
Since September I have been working in a large primary school and from the word go was warned by a few people to ‘watch my back’ because of cliques that have often turned nasty. But I took it with a pinch of salt and went in open minded. With my general attitude of getting on with everybody and forming my own opinions. If you had asked me of those opinions last week, the answer would be very, if not entirely different to now.
Recently I began working more closely with another member of staff. And we became the centre of the wide spread gossip. From what I can gather snide remarks and disapproving comments were heard amongst the lowest pay bands all the way up to senior leadership. I am not going to insult anyones intelligence by denying it all. We get on well, with good banter and flirting became a regular occurrence. However with an imminent move to London on the cards I did tell myself to keep a distance, I suppose in an attempt at self-preservation. But there was something about him and I liked who I was around him. One thing led too another and I suppose you could say we were ‘romantically-entangled’. No labels, no public displays of affection… Unless sitting next to each other in the school canteen counts as a romantic gesture, your call!
Maybe we spent too much time together and were asking for trouble but I can’t help feeling the gossip is more petty than that. Two good looking, young teachers assistants, not meaning to sound vain, cheerily spending time together is bound to attract more attention than some middle aged teachers who go round with faces like sour plums, who are just downright miserable in their working environment. And other factors such as an age gap of over 5 years and me being the daughter of a senior member of staff, evidently caught the interest of many. Not to mention two people of the opposite sex communicating (God forbid!).
So maybe it turns out gossiping is a distraction from looking at your own life, and the more I write the clearer it is becoming. Yes, it’s ridiculous that people don’t have anything better to talk about than my ‘maybe, maybe not’ love life. However it is 100% ludicrous that I would ever let these opinions effect my decisions or feelings.
What does sting though is what feels like an attack on my strength of character. Like the minds behind the whispers think I simply don’t understand what I’m doing and can’t stand up for myself. Maybe it’s because I’m blond or the youngest in the entire staff body, I’m not sure. They however are mistaken. I know what I believe when it comes to the plans for my life:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)
My faith will not be shaken, I fully intend to stick to my guns and I am not a damsel in distress.
That thought is a mind boggling one though, because surely if the cause for concern is great enough to be shared with others then doesn’t that deserve a rescue attempt? Are my work colleagues stood back, watching me run into an ocean of man-eating hippopotami or do they deep down know they rely on speculation and possibly even enjoy these self-integrity-damaging past times? In this instance the latter seems more likely but the fact that I considered the previous demonstrates just how much damage gossiping can do. Often resulting in planting seeds of doubt in vulnerable minds.
Now I look at it the term ‘Romantic entanglement’ makes it sound like a meaningless fling but that’s not true. If I’m honest at the beginning there was an element of danger that was my main attraction to him but that soon changed. And I am yet to see a side of him I don’t like. Moreover I know I care because my main concern when this issue arose was what effect it would have on him. How it would effect his work life, reputation and what he felt about me. The way that the gossip went, he came off badly. Which, I’m not going to lie, I feel guilty for. Because there is nothing worse than feeling like you have caused unnecessary complications for someone you care about.
Apparently everyone’s main concern is about his past reputation but I couldn’t give a monkeys and honestly have no desire to hear the details. People change, I need look no further than myself to see that. This may sound naive but it’s not, it’s true. Many of us would be written off as ‘bad eggs’ if our histories were written down in black and white, I know I certainly would be. But people aren’t black and white, there are many shades to a soul, you just have to mix it up a few times to find the perfect match. Equally I believe we make the decision of who to let close enough too hurt us. And if I do get hurt by this person being in my life, I have no doubt all that the gossipers will have their ‘2 penny’s worth’ then as well. But I think we choose who burns us and if I get burnt I will not regret my choices, it will have been a privilege.
Because people don’t just randomly appear in our lives, they are there to teach us something, to learn from us or more commonly, both! Therefore those who gossip should feel guilty for potentially denying others the opportunity to to grow as a person. The one thing I am guilty of is having too much faith in the human race. But I don’t think that that will ever change. There is too much good in the world. But equally so much good waiting to be done. I know who I am, where I’m heading and who I want in my life. But it’s a shame that some people are so lost and stuck in daily routine, that they have lost sight of who they are and the purpose they were placed here.