What I learned from Anne Boleyn:
Life is hard. It will always be hard, so sometimes the best remedy is to dream, knowing that it is a dream and that when you wake up, things will go back to being shitty.
Dreams are what make life tolerable -and sometimes can motivate someone to move forward. Other times, it makes them stagnant and stuck in one place. And this happens very often when people realize that their dreams are just that: dreams. Dreams can give us a little push, but as long as we remain realistic about our goals.
Anne wasn’t a great person, she wasn’t a marvelous person, but neither was she the devil incarnate that Nicholas Sander wrote of.
Yet, the image that we’ve grown up with has been largely due in part to fiction and as weird as this sounds, its help me when I have to deal with angry customers, asshole managers and people who just want to give someone a bad day because their day has gone bad.
I don’t know if Anne was really a victim, and she was forced into that position after she saw that she was gaining nothing by saying ‘no’ to Henry and giving him tons of excuses. She is dead and unless her ghost were to visit me or I’d go back in time, I will never know. I can make inferences based on her actions and the primary sources available but that is it.
What I do know is that the image that I saw in TV and movies, have pushed me forward in ways I couldn’t imagine and didn’t notice until now.
It could be that as much as I didn’t like how some people took fiction seriously, I took comfort in how she was depicted, as this strong and head of her times woman. Even though she wasn’t, the lessons she taught me through her actions in fiction were valuable.
When customers want to give me a rough time and be mean, I smile and keep on smiling. Not a smile of gratitude but a mysterious smile. A smile that looks so genuinely but also so sarcastic. That says I am not going to let anyone bring me down, and even if you want to say speak behind my back (in the case of my co-workers and managers) I will keep on moving forward because that is my nature. And as the historical Anne was once reputed to say “let them grumble, that is how it is going to be”; so I shall say through my smile. My mischievous eyes, secretly glad when something doesn’t go well for them.
“I care nothing for Catherine, I rather see her hung than acknowledge her as my mistress.” -Anne Boleyn in “The Tudors”
In reality, while she did say something along those lines, the wording was a little different. The meaning was all the same. She could lose control at times and that is how I feel at times; when I feel that things are taking too long for me, when I am looked down upon. And for a while I had a poor-me attitude of crying and whining about it, but now I could care less. Because this is how things are, and how things are likely to be until they get better, so I must make the most of it by not giving up, not crumbling down but instead show them how much I enjoy their petty games and they won’t bring me down.
Sometimes that is all we can do, and being realistic is not being conformist but rather knowing where your limitations are and working around those limitations to get what you want. And we will make mistakes along the road, that is normal; the trick is not over-thinking them too much, and get over them. Accept that we’ve screwed up and move on. Keep on trying and never fall into the poor-me syndrome because once someone falls there, it is hard to get back up.
Having trouble in the work-place is nothing new, but rather than cry, I look at people in the eye. Give the best effort that I can give, and push myself forward to be courteous even when I don’t have to be, and as the historical Anne said in one of her mottos “let them grumble”, that doesn’t matter. Reality is what reality is. All I can do is not let myself be defeated, not fall into a poor-me attitude and instead raise my head up… high like Anne (Genevive Bujold) taught her daughter in the classic Anne of a Thousand Days from 1969.
The second season of the Tudors had some of Natalie Dormer’s greatest one-liners for Anne, and although she appeared arrogant, she excelled in what she did. Given the position she was in, she knew that the people around her would complain no matter what. If her predecessor did the same mistakes, because she was royal, no one would say a thing. Or maybe they would but not make as much drama. Anne wasn’t the people’s favorite, she wasn’t the court’s favorite and she knew what people said (and thought) behind her back. She was a whore, stupid, she shouldn’t be there but did she let that deter her? No, she smirked, she held her head up high as if saying “F*ck you guys. I will keep on moving forward”. And the actress captured her bravery perfectly during her execution. Her speech was copied straight out of the historical records.
So remember: keep moving forward. Let the idiots grumble. It will be what they will be. You are the makers of your own destiny. Don’t let anyone hold your back, and don’t hold yourself back.