Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down


A few weeks ago, I found out that myself and 11 other coworkers will be losing our jobs after December 31 [Happy New Year!] The agency that we subcontract with is backing out of the contract 3 months early for their “convenience” and as a direct result of our constant advocacy for systems change in a program hampered by bureaucracy and disconnect. The way our organization has been treated makes it harder and harder to get up to go to work as the end of the year draws near. It was, and is, an infuriating example of callousness. 

Around the same time, there were people very dear to me [including my Someone] whose friends weren’t acting like friends. Multiple stories of unkindness, judgmental attitudes, and impatience were in the air. With all that, a busy schedule of work and teaching, and the constant ache of Transatlantic lovesickness, morale on Team Beth has been at an all-time low lately.

But through it all, I have found solace in some advice my stepdad gave me several years ago, during my 3-year-long struggle to find a job, after yet another rejection letter had left me angry and in tears at the kitchen table.

Illegitimi non carborundum,” he said cryptically.


“Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

People can, in fact, be mean just for the sake of it. People hurt each other, even when given the benefit of the doubt. People are unkind, even when they have been shown kindness. It is normal to let it frustrate me. But I can’t let it get me down. Because when I stop at anger and begin to carry only anger around, no one wins. When I let it get me down and believe the things their words or actions are saying about who I am, they win. 

When I choose to be kind: I win.

Before you call me a Pollyanna: I can tell you right now that I am not always kind as I should be [or kind at all] in the moment of offense, and it is not always possible to go back and be kind to the same person who was unkind to me.  I also can’t [and shouldn’t] pretend like nothing is wrong when I’ve been hurt or mistreated.

So, when confronted with outright meanness, what’s a girl to do? Here are three things I will try my hardest to do going forward to help get myself through the end of the year [or at least through tomorrow]:


  • Shut my mouth. It is entirely possible I won’t have anything nice to say, and shouldn’t say it at all.
  • Pray for that person [or more accurately my lava-hot anger towards that person], and for something or someone else to focus my attention and energy on. After all the Good Book tells me that “Love Your Neighbor” does, in fact, include my enemy.
  • Be kind to someone else, the next chance I get. 

The truth is, no matter how mean someone is to me, no matter how small that the behavior of a Jerky-Jerkface makes me feel, being mean back does nothing but mirror their behavior and make me angrier.

And as soon as I let unkindness keep me from being kind, the Bad Guys win.

So don’t let them win.

Be kind, as best you can.

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Let them make you kind of person the world needs: a better one.



14 thoughts on “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down

  1. Thank you for referencing hot lava and thank you for blogging 🙂 I get excited whenever my inbox has a new Beth post! Tell those bastards that Sim Monster is on the hunt for them. While you’re at it, tell the fart-faces too.


  2. PERFECTION! Even more reason for me to love Brugh! Seriously, I have been at the butt end of unkindness…and I can totally fess up that I have taken the low petty road…but taking the high road…and facing crappy situations with a smile is SO MUCH MORE satisfying! As Dionne Warwick said, “keep smilin’, Keep shinin’….knowing you can always count on me….FOR SURE! That’s what friends are for!”


  3. I only know that taking the high road is better because of how often I take the low road. I have just realized time and time again that responding to bad with more bad just makes it worse. Granted, I am still trying to figure out how to face down the ugly situations, but at least I have a leg up on the attitudes. Thanks for the love, Kimmie!


  4. I call it “slaughter them with kindness”. It’s unfortunate that you can’t yell and scream until things change but that’s the way of the world, I suppose. Not letting things bother you (or letting someone see you bothered) is the ultimate win. Thanks for posting.


  5. Who? WHO?? Who, I ask, could be mean to you, and WHY? Are you really the farty-poo and people are fed up with the whole stink? Seriously though, such good advice on the whole not acting like nothing is wrong or just ignoring it, hard to do, but I also genuinely appreciate the determination to turn around and treat someone else with extra kindness. Wise words friend, wise words. Oh, and I too get excited whenever I see a new blog post from you in my email. Keep on keepin on.


  6. Hi Beth! I’ve been reading your blog after seeing it mentioned on Mary Evelyn’s blog. 🙂
    Thanks so much for writing this. It was a really good reminder for me, because I tend to let other peoples’ actions/negative life circumstances dictate my mood/behavior WAY too often.
    I hope (and pray!) that you will be able to find a new job soon.


  7. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger | A Map of California

  8. Sometimes you have to go somewhere else and be kind to people who aren’t hell bent on breaking you down just because you are a kind person, but yeah, I completely agree with your stepdad’s notion.


  9. Beth! Your blog is amazing….and has been such a source of inspiration for my wife and I! We read your posts (all the way back to 2011 and earlier!) and you put in to words so much of what we want our daughter to feel/know. She has Spina Bifida and was born last year – please check out blog – we would LOVE to write/chat with you as we have SO many questions for you!

    God bless,

    Andrew, Cristina and Maria Isabella Pocta


    • Andrew and Cristina,
      So sorry about the delay but I am so thankful to be able to help you in some small way. Please feel free to reply to the email if you’d care to to have a chat or ask me more specific questions. . . by the way, you are more than welcome to share our dialogue on your blog, if you feel like it would help other families you know. I looked at your site. Looks like you guys are on quite an adventure. Really looking forward to talking to you guys!


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