How to Deal with Problems in Small Groups
Example of my painting
I like to volunteer and to start my own interest groups.
I have wondered how to deal with some on-going problems, such as cliques in small towns, bullying, because of old rural attitudes, myopic attitudes and listening issues. Women from the generation older than mine seem to lack basic social experience, as do those from isolated areas who have moved here. I have a great deal of both education and work experience.
In particular, recently, I found myself encountering an 'end run' where I am feeling excluded after five years of excellent work as Secretary to an art club. I was deeply hurt by one or two old men who decided to make decisions outside of the usual form (involving the executive in discussing proposed changes). But finally it was put to a vote and the membership supported the man's decision (the new coordinator of the art show and sale).
I expressed my decision not to participate further in our usual show and sale because the decision triples the cost for both the artist and the customer. It adds to the weight of the painting and I can't carry heavy weights.
My method of showing my paintings was mentioned as an example of what they did not want. So I believe I was 'targeted' in a most unpleasant way.
I am puzzled by the fact that there have been zero sales lately and no one is trying to find out why. Lack of sales is certainly nothing to do with how I display my paintings.
There are other art groups, but none any different, and often the same people are in all the groups. I've realized that a lot of my time and identity went into this volunteer work.
I am not sure I made the right decision? I stopped going to meetings but still perform the information distribution duties. Our year ends in May and I've insisted that I will not continue as Secretary. I, privately, am pretty sure I will quit the group.
I am more of an experimental artist than a trained fine artist, so have had to struggle to fit into the group.
I feel very sad when I look at the five oil paintings I had already finished for the show and sale in April. I could compromise, show only three, for example, but feel very uncomfortable now around the show organizers. Am I just giving up without a fight?
Over the years as a volunteer with this group I've been very good at keeping the various conflicts under the radar and away from the general membership. We have 55 members. I've been proud of my service and don't think I deserve what happened, but probably the show organizer doesn't fully realize my quandary because of my personal health issues.
Because I suffered abuse as a pre-teen I have trouble dealing objectively with conflict where I feel directly targeted. I know how to recover, and have managed to gain back some perspective, but I wonder what other's would do in the same situation? I don't have anyone close to ask, to brainstorm solutions or to converse with about a confidential topic.
I'd love to hear your experiences and ideas.