In any organization, in any group, if you are the most recent arrival, the existing dynamic changes. You change the dynamic. By your presence, the level of the pond alters, the color of the water shifts and the temperature differs. We use the metaphor of “not wanting to make waves” but that’s an empty hope. Just being there creates newness.
Anyone who has ever been the new person knows this, and, unless you’re an unrepentant attention-seeker, explains why most of us stick with what we know. Having been through the assessment period of your new peers, we want to avoid the inevitable acculturation, no matter how well-intentioned the existing members. It’s painful to explain your story again, to justify yourself again, to demonstrate your worth again – why can’t people leave us be?
The foundation of this unwillingness to be new is fear. We’re fearful of them not accepting us, of them not agreeing with the stories about ourselves we have told ourselves. This group who doesn’t really know me can’t judge me…they don’t know what I’ve been through!
But let’s turn this upside-down. If you have the confidence in yourself to face the world head-on, you should have the self-assurance to present that person to anyone. We all need to know just exactly how we fit into the world – we are all rankers to one degree or another – and so obtaining feedback from new peers gives us useful information.
And here’s the important point: if you are not delusional, then you will find that people will soon enough communicate to you that you are who you think you are. And then we can all get on with our job or even start to excel. Being the newbie is a chance to sing, if only you look at it that way.
It is also the only way to find your tribe.
Cartoon credit to Conde Nast and the New Yorker.