Tall Poppy Syndrome is a term used to put down people of genuine talent and merit. Particularly in Australia the term is used to make people feel bad about achieving or succeeded. I have spent a life time being treated in that way. Being built up to be something special, put on a pedestal, so that people can tear me down. Being pushed to succeed, but having done it being told that I was: ‘too intelligent for my own good’, ‘think I know everything’, ‘that I’m not paid to think’, that I ‘should know my place’, that I am ‘overbearing’, ‘hard work’, ‘too sensitive’, 'have an attitude problem', ‘think too hard’. I have been told countless times that I inspire people, particularly in my work. I always go out of my way to do the best for people, always go beyond expectations to help people, yet even those closest to me, use my talents, skills, honesty, integrity to beat me with.
This week it has been that I am ‘too honest’ and ‘too direct’ even after being asked to be honest and direct. I am an excellent communicator, my work for over 20 years has been about communicating messages to people, either through photography, film, design, writing or with my voice. Yet even with a very clear message impossible to misinterpret, I am still criticised. No, in fact told that I had not done enough. In reality I was being blamed for someone else’s mistake. But even with those facts proven and solidified, I, as always am the one that has had to take the blame and the punishment. Put back in my place, my head pushed down, tortured for doing the right thing.
How do we deal with that? We live in a society where being the best is all important, but also where anyone who is the best is relentlessly criticised. I have always struggled to find people who accept me the way that I am. In 2019 shortly after the death of my wife and when, with the exception of only a few, my ’friends’ deserted me, I promised to surround myself only with people who appreciated me for who I was and what I could do and move away from those that didn’t. That group of people continues to get ever smaller.