The Small Matter Of…Ball Breakers

First published in Trespass Magazine on March the 4th, 2010.

When you’re the Editor of your own publication, or of a publication that is not your own at all, or probably even a boss or leader, or maybe someone who just has to work with people, there’s one particularly awful, recurring thing you have to deal with: ball breakers.

Despite being a woman and not having balls, I sometimes feel as though mine are busted beyond repair. I never used to feel this way, but lately it seems as though ball breakers are in the numbers; whiny, self-obsessed and with every petty problem you can think of, there they are; breaking people’s nuts one email and phone call at a time.

I’m trying to pinpoint exactly when people got all high maintenance. I’m trying to remember when the tide turned, but I don’t think people have changed much at all.

I think it’s me who has changed.

I think I’ve reached that point where I Just. Don’t. Care.

When I read Mia Freedman’s autobiography Mama Mia, I distinctly remember a certain section where she discussed losing patience and how, over the years, her patience gradually decreased to the point of having very little at all. And I remember how she said that her job started infiltrating her life, so much so that she began chatting with friends in the same manner as redesigning the layout of Cosmopolitan with her Arts Director.

Regardless of not wanting to be so, I can’t deny that I do see myself acting in the same manner, every now and again, and I more than understand exactly where she is coming from. And whilst I manage separating work from socialising quite well, it’s the patience metre I’m severely depleting. In work and life.

For me, this self-revelation has come as quite the shock. I’ve spent years thriving on interaction with people and helping people and bending over backwards to please. And I’ve probably been spoilt by working with a lovely little collection of friends and colleagues, the kind of people who are easy and breezy like me. Truth is, I’m a pretty cruisy kind of person. I wouldn’t know how to be high maintenance if I tried. Just ask my hairdresser. I’m understanding. And flexible. And I always want to be.

But now all of the above – all the understanding and flexibility and breeziness – comes with a clause; just don’t fuck with me. Just don’t bore me. Just don’t argue with me. Because I Just. Don’t. Care.

Perhaps it’s due to having too much swirling through my brain, or perhaps it’s being increasingly busy, or maybe it’s because I’m much more aware of pleasingmyself than others, but I’ve reached a level – that contains a slight amount of arrogance – of what I’ll allow in my brain and what I can be bothered with.

More particularly, who I can be bothered with. And I can assure you ball breakers are not on that list. I’ve had my fill of them. Closely related to the knob, and in some cases the exact same person, a ball breaker is not someone I even consider anymore.

So what’s the difference now? I’ve made a clear decision to not put up with them. I’m not giving in to their whims. I’m not listening to their rubbish. I’m not allowing them a free pass. Or much of an opinion*.

If a ball breaker shares their opinion on what I should be doing with my business and how I should be doing it, they usually hear a reply to the effect of, ‘oh, you think so? Ok, well how about you go and start your own magazine?’ Or if one offers a suggestion regarding my wedding planning, they are usually greeted with a friendly, ‘hmm, how about you go and plan your own wedding?’

Despite my apparent aggression, I’m still a relaxed person – I’ve just decided to not be that person, or boss, with everyone. And I’ve realised an opinion is only ever valid when it is asked of you. Truth be told, not every idea is a good one. Not every suggestion needs to be adopted. Not every person needs to be catered for.

That’s what makes a good leader. The ability to distinguish good from bad. The ability to make changes, but at your own pace. The capacity to adopt ideas only if they suit. And the ability to tell people to pipe right down when required.

Life is here to be learned, and no one is born already being so. And what I’ve recently learned is the only thing worse than being a ball breaker is allowing one to go on. And on. And on.

So from on now I won’t be. And I can’t tell you how liberating it feels. In a world where being selfish is considered terrible, egotistical and downright inconsiderate, maybe we need to change our thinking and realise we’re wrong.

We all need to be a little selfish. Otherwise we’ll find ourselves worn out, jaded and with two severely bruised and busted nuts.

* This clause is only valid for ball breakers.

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