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Stuck between a rock and a co-worker you'd like to hit with it.

Hi Samantha, I’m needing a bit more confidence and thought you could help? I’ve started a new job, which I love. But I’m feeling really isolated here, and I’m not paranoid thinking my co-workers are making me feel that way deliberately – they are. I’ve started the role in a management position, and it’s like I’m back at school again. Worse than their detachment, there’s in-jokes and talk of get-togethers I’m pointedly not invited to. Nobody has bothered to begin a conversation with me about anything other than work tasks. My self-esteem is taking a blow, and some days, I don’t even want get out of bed and to go in. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. -Jen, St Kilda.

Hi Jen! Firstly, be aware it’s not you. If people don’t know you personally, then don’t take it personal. Other than the fact that they’re behaving like a Regina George fan-base, they’re also, sadly, being human.

I’m guessing though, so are you. Quite often, when we’ve earned superior positions, we also inherit guilt, rather than pride. Especially if a group is making you feel that way. And what do we do in return? Break ourselves down into smaller, more palatable pieces, making it easier for people to swallow. Which actually works against our favour. We give others permission to diminish us, instead of wearing a self-confidence they can go choke on.

Now, in the stripping world, this treatment was a given when starting at a new club. Whether the reason was pack-mentality, or plain old envy. Perhaps there’s somebody that applied for your role, and didn’t get the job? Maybe they’re worried about it’s a matter of time before you get your Miranda Priestly on and start criticising their ignorance of cerulean? It's tough being new, and it’s tough being boss. But ask yourself this; when you’ve acted a similar way in the past (and we all have – even Dorothy got her thug on in OZ), what was your motive? Usually, there isn’t much of one other than you’re an unknown element in a familiar group.

In Gentleman’s Clubs, when this kind of ostracizing went on for too long, a stripper would usually vocalise a well-timed, ‘you can all fuck off.’ Ideally, this method probably isn’t for you. But here’s where it’s important to be you. Without crumbling under their snubbing and instead standing strong. More often that not, when a newbie joined our ranks, they'd make the mistake of thinking all strippers were shallow nymphomaniacs with a gold-medal in hair twirling, and shrink to conform accordingly. Not only would we dislike them for their cowardice, but we smelled a rat too. Yet they’d have earned a room full of friends if they’d been honest about their love of knitting tea-cosies, adoration for guinea-pigs, talent for tarot. Because strippers love individuality – and so does the rest of the world.

So here’s the bare bones, Jen. You’re clearly being worn down, and you need to rise again. Before work, stick a post-it on your bathroom mirror that says, ‘I’m fucking awesome.’ Say it out loud enough times that your partner or cat think you’ve developed a Bieber complex. Then walk in to work proudly with confidence radiating. After all, outside of the workplace, there’s plenty who love you, right? And that’s because you’re fucking awesome. Confidence radiates a strong aura, lack of self-esteem keeps you in their place. But once they feel the shift in you giving zero fucks over their approval, you’ll slowly earn it. Regardless of the gang-stance, someone in the fold is curious about you. And it wont be long until that someone inquires about who you really are. Attempts a joke. Invites you for a coffee. Once that happens, the rest will gravitate, because they’ll recognise their gang-mentality and also how truly stupid it is. I promise. So stay self-assured. You don’t have to show your strength by shouting that religion is bullshit, and anyone with a varying political opinion can suck balls, but don’t back down on your individual standpoint either. Your co-workers, finally seeing a powerful unique in you, will soon be lining up to hear about your love of latex, cosplay adventures, pet-rock collection.

Your profession, achievements, personality and differences are jewels, Jen, and when your co-workers get to know you, they’ll want to polish them – no pun intended.

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