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“I don’t have a problem with politics. You either play them well or you don’t.”

My response to a comment by a family member (on my husband’s side), “Every office has politics,” said in a tone to imply politics is a club to which only those willing to compromise their ethics are invited.

And then there was silence. Discussing the incident with me, my husband, who seemed amused by the exchange, offered that, as lifetime residents of the rural South, his relatives were just not used to being around assertive, business-minded women who were more focused on career ambitions than hearth and home.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said it. My husband has always encouraged me to be more myself around his family even though I am convinced they would find my self completely unappealing. It always seems that suppressing myself would be the best way to keep the peace. To politely ask questions and hope not be asked. To appear more interested in others than myself when it is most convenient to rotate the focus of the light, and to interject only what it’s clear others would find validating of the beliefs they already hold. To assess the power dynamic, to be conscious of the consequence of upsetting it. To figure out how to navigate. In essence, to play politics. Because not playing politics would only draw to light the too obvious differences illustrated by my moment of honesty. Play the game to your advantage. To shun office politics as something that is to be risen above versus a necessity to rise will rarely be a path to fulfillment.