On Adult Pettiness

When I went to college and joined the sorority, I assumed that during those years I would experience all that world had to offer in terms of pettiness.  While we certain had our FAIR SHARE of ridiculous fight, doling out the silent treatment and maliciously making out with other girls boyfriends…it wasn’t NEARLY as bad as your or I expected.

Ok, but law school would be MUCH MORE PETTY.  Cutthroat competition, 100 type As in one room,  A PROM?!  Nope…it turns out.  Just a bunch of nerds who are good at writing with new computers and big dreams — I actually have 3 best life friends as a result.

So, when I joined the work force and became and adult, I was out of the woods.  Petty ways are banished with adulthood.  Right?


It has been to my sincerest chagrin that the older and more “experienced” {in work terms} I get, the more PETTY adults are.  In mulling this over, in preparation for this post, I decided I shouldn’t be surprised.  My parents have been recounting these instances of adult pettiness to me for a long time.  I suppose I wanted to believe they were isolated, a product of a very specific circumstance that I would never one day be a part of.

But like so many other things in learning the ways of the real adult I was dreadfully wrong.  And to date, I’m horrified on the regular with how PETTY adults can be.

It’s worth bearing in mind that I have a wild degree of respect for adults that fall into my older peer group, especially those in the 35-45 peer set.  They are the group I sort of look up to in terms of behavior, since that the next “older” age I’ll be {does that make sense?  probably not.  but it’s 5:41 am currently.  so do kindly shut it.  no offense} and let me tell you — they are some of the WORST.  Drama mongering, jealous and petty, these children posing as adults with degrees and jobs make Captain Hook look like a candidate for Mr. Congeniality. And the adults in the subset even older than that one — they are the worst. In my recent experiences they are mean, just downright mean, disrespectful, hurtful and you guessed it petty.  But WHY I ask myself — why must you act this way?!

I think most of it is two fold:  1 its a product of their environment and 2 its a product of their personalities.  I like to think that everyone inherently is a nice person, but some people just aren’t.  I think that I have had the misfortune recently of coming across all the not nice people who happen to exist in the same type of stressful environment {try to strike the elusive work-life balance} which equals the pettiness that I’ve experienced:  two faced, behind you back talking out the side of their mouth that I loathe so much.

And while I can get really sad about how ridiculous some adults choose to act, let’s not forget all the nice people, who seem rarer and rarer that I have the privilege of being around every day.  I heart you.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, a lot of people I know my age, with the exception of a handful, are awesome.  Go GenY.

Have you been exposed to a lot of adult-on-adult pettiness?


5 thoughts on “On Adult Pettiness

  1. I remember at my college graduation my father told me that I’m stepping out of this bubble I’ve been in (at school) and that in the real world, there are no shortage of people that are difficult to work with or who will waste your time. Pettiness is a waste of time! It is frustrating when they are your coworkers and you have to be around it every day 😦 I don’t have a password for your new job post – but I hope it is fabulous!!

  2. YES! Law School was a beast. My whole life I have never had problems making girl friends- I always had tons! But not in law school. The girls in law school were so awful I had such a hard time making friends with people I thought I could trust. So I made friends with boys, who were just as competitive but far more upfront about it, and then I married one. Ha, ha.

  3. I frequently quote the saying “People are people wherever you go.” A pharmacy isn’t exactly an office, but office politics run RAMPANT. It’s taken me a very long time to learn the hard lesson that I really should just offer less of myself to my co-workers and save my fabulous self for non-work people I love and trust. Sure, it’s tempting to make friends, build alliances and otherwise act like we’re on Workplace Survivor, but personally I feel it just muddies the waters. Not to say I won’t be friendly and eat lunch by myself in a bathroom stall… but next time around, I’m going to be more mysterious.

  4. I think it’s less about age and more about environment (especially if that environment fosters and/or rewards pettiness). College was kind of a utopia for me, so any amount of petty behavior was noticed and promptly ignored. I was too busy being young and free to care. Work makes some people behave like caged animals. And if the company or the boss value tattletales or back stabbers, it can be a hotbed for childishness. Some people are always miserable/ mean, but I think a person’s environment can really affect her outlook on life/ behavior.

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