Weekend | The Compliance Game

Friday was busy. There was lunch with old colleagues. The men were as uncomfortable to deal with, as always. The internal team politics there continues unabated. I did my best to stay neutral, to keep myself out of their power games. As much as I like them, the politics gets to be too much for me on most days. The women were a pleasure, as always. I now have an updated list of everybody’s relationship status. The mappings of who is sleeping with whom changes a lot over the course of a few weeks, I noticed. Steamy, volatile, transient office romances give us a great deal of gossip material, and for that I am grateful.

There was an interview, and I turned a new leaf. Hopefully this is how I will be, everyday. I felt confident and strong. More on that in the later section.

Then there was San Francisco, and the night lights on the bridges over the Bay were beautiful that night. I listened rapt to a talk about inversions and clefs. I came back tired and alone, and needed company. So I let myself be swept off to an university party, where there was much drinking and trash television. There was discussion about Trump. I cannot recollect what that had been about. Perhaps that is for the best.

Most of Saturday was spent ambling around lost in a sprawling trail network. Twenty-two miles and many thousand words later, we found our way back to civilization and found at the town-center that the trail-head markers were in the process of being repainted and cleaned up.

Sunday was quiet. There was bread and wine, and cheese and berries. A simple repast and a slow one, easy and soft, sweetened by company, meandering through the early afternoon to the evening. I made vague plans to watch the second presidential debate, but I was mellow, and I had no intention to overhaul my peace. The debate can wait for the next weekend.


It can be draining to be someone else for extended periods of time, though it is a mask most of us wear in society to get along and to fit in. You migrate then, towards those rare few with whom you can be refreshingly honest, unapologetically yourself. It is the way of the world.

I spend a great deal of effort trying to fit in. Maybe it is unnecessary. Maybe I fit in just fine without expending any effort to do so. Once I hadn’t. It had caused issues back then. So it had then made sense to do some work to fit in, to spare myself and others I cared for. I like making people happy, and I like making them happy because of what I do or say; a little amount of work to fit in, if it does make near and dear ones happy in the outcome, is worthwhile. I call it the compliance game.

At odds with this compliance game, though, is my need to be myself, without adding layers of decorative icing on top to make the whole palatable, without obfuscating myself to the point where I am just another worn-down face in suburbia who is uncomfortable beyond the shallowness of daily niceties. I try to keep a balance, between the curiosity and the resoluteness of my self, with the conformity and the compliance expected of my social self. I think I have erred though, sometimes, by trying to put on my social self all the time, and finding that it had somehow formed a thick coat over my nature, that what I had wanted others to believe had somehow turned to be what I believed too.

I have seen that it was necessary for smooth sailing to show a measure of diffidence, inculcated strongly by a society where women were easier seen than heard. Coupling that social expectation with innate shyness, I have been successfully self-sabotaging myself for a while, for a long while. I am not good at faking it until making it, so I knew that I had to change truly, and I felt stuck because I did not know how to. It wasn’t until recently that I looked hard at someone I admired, and listened to what they had to say, and I realised that I could start small by a concrete mini-step. So I took my interview call confidently, and politely disagreed, and firmly held my stance, and was surprised when they took me seriously. Nobody was condescending. Nobody was patronizing. It was a first, and it was a pleasant, empowering first. It charged up my weekend, certainly. Even the pall of Monday and a long week ahead hasn’t dampened my morale yet.