“FT: No matter if it’s the SAPro group, Twitter, whatever, cliques will form and try to keep you silent. Don’t let them make you be. #SAChat”
Make whatever eye-rolls you want, but if you’ve been a member of that group, you know the kind of environment that lurks there. And if you know me, you know that is not my strong suit.
I joined the group around the time I got into graduate school to gather information and learn. It wasn’t long before I saw the same names all the time, and saw a manifestation of the cafeteria from Mean Girls. We see it all the time in our jobs, in our grad programs, with our students—everyone may like each other and get along (or seem to), but there’s always division. I’d argue that it’s human nature, but I’m not a philosopher and would probably get some side eye for saying that.
My reasons for not posting ranged from “I haven’t even started Grad school, I need to chill” to “I’m young, what can I contribute?” So I spent my time in the group willingly silent, because it wasn’t my space to talk. At least, that’s what I told myself. Really, I wasn’t in “the clique” and was painfully aware of it. And worst of all, I was afraid of what would happen if I did speak.
For whatever reason, I decided to tweet more during my ACUHO-I search. (Read: I wanted in on the memes everyone was posting.) Again I noticed the same people dominating the Twittersphere. Another circle, another group I wasn’t in. I convinced myself that I could make connections on Twitter, but it didn’t feel right. Each tweet I wrote was carefully crafted to make sure I sounded “right”. Extra care was needed because I represent my program, my schools, myself. One misstep and I was toast. It hurt. On Facebook I felt I had no place, and on Twitter my place felt like the stereotypical uncool kid who eats lunch alone.
Then recently, something came over me. If someone can’t see that I’m being myself, or that I’m clumsily learning, why care what they say? Where is the use in pretending I’m something I’m not? Through silence and reflection, I found my voice. It’s just a computer screen at the end of the day. If someone is going to hunt me down in real life for a comment on the internet, we have a bigger problem at hand.
Yes, there are cliques in the SAPro group. There are almost 24K members, but my program of 40 something people has cliques, too. So will any job I have and any organization I’m in. We need to be unapologetically ourselves and speak out—take up space and shout “I’m here and I matter.” Some may post every day, others may like a post here and there. There is no right or wrong, because all of us are different with various comfort levels. We all know this. But don’t let others in our field be the cause of your silence.
No matter where you go, cliques are going to form. And that’s okay. Take that space and roll with it in whatever manner is best for you.
**The title of this post is from the A Day to Remember song of the same name off the album “For Those Who Have Heart”. This was the song that sparked the writing process.**