The Arrogant Little Pissant

You know who it is. This person is younger than you. This person has complex, yet little life experience to draw from. This person thinks they know everything.

I was this person 15 years ago. Some might argue that I’m still that person, though the verbal validation I receive indicates otherwise.

Today, this person began my day by demanding why something wasn’t the way she deemed. It wasn’t her version of correct.

  1. “Correct” was never defined to me.
  2. It wasn’t explicit in the piece with which we were working.
  3. It wasn’t clear on the data source.
  4. It wasn’t defined on the data source.
  5. No questions were asked, to me, on how to make it correct.
  6. It wasn’t caught in the numerous final proofs we received and reviewed.
  7. She booked a vacation in the midst of the process.
  8. There was no accountability to her role.

In her demanding to know why something wasn’t correct, she was blaming. I inferred she was blaming me because I was the last person to lay hands on this project.

I am coming from two days of being sick from the stomach flu, after a weekend. So, I’ve been out of work for four days. My first encounter back to work is this arrogant little pissant demanding to know why I’ve ruined her career. 

I said, “Are you playing the blame game? Because if so, take it someplace else.”

She stormed off.

This person is 11 years younger than me.

I understand now, a decade later why people gave me certain looks when I was in my 20s. If I had known the life experience I would gain from 25-30 on top of the already complex life experience I had already gained in the first two decades of my life, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me.

I suppose I was coming off the immortality of my teens, the confusion of not knowing what my calling is, the uncomfortableness of being unable to find my place in life when so many had said I should know what I was going to do. All this coupled with being bright, learned, and ambitious. I understood many best practices and had a good value system. So, I could recognize fraud when it was said to be employed but wasn’t. I had a drive for  perfection and the desire to learn under the tutelage of experts. But, those experts were (still are!) in short supply. I kept working for one underpaid entrepreneur after another. Sure, there is an elegance in figuring things out as you go — but the brilliance of the human race is that we should build on the shoulders of giants. We do ourselves a disservice when we fail to find or capitalize on those giants’ energy. All that frustration and knowledge came up against my immaturity and certainly made me an arrogant little pissant.

Time tempered my fire and fueled more understanding. Sorrow strengthened my compassion, and I learned. Life helped me reinforce my strengths of deliberation and being able to look at the big picture which has subsided my desire to be that arrogant little pissant. I try to be the first to admit I made a mistake, but I will make sure it’s mine first. (Credit due, where credit is due. It goes both ways.) I always knew and recognized my elders were wise. But, my desire to learn from them has increased with age. I have more respect for the necessity of inter-generational exchanges.

I suppose my mother, along with those life experiences, was the respected person in my life who helped me temper the arrogant pissant in me. My quandary this morning was that I wanted to be able to tell this girl what she needed to do. Yet, I recognized she would not listen as something has changed over the months and her respect for me has been lost. I don’t really care if I ever receive that respect back, as I received much validation just today that I have been steady in my own goals in being professional. I was hoping a new colleague could provide the leadership that this young one needs, but the fire in which she’s been thrown hasn’t lent itself to that.

The fact is we do work in a toxic environment and being graceful is something we all struggle with. So, I set my boundary, and she obeyed, and now I write. I tried not to let the instance rile me up to much so that I could get through the next necessary tasks, as life doesn’t stop and it certainly keeps going.

But, I want feedback. What do you do when you meet an immature young adult who thinks they know everything? How do you deal with the arrogant pissants in your life?

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