Part 2 - Traps for New Peers

All too often, when a new Peer is made, they can go through a period of soul-searching and some stress associated with their elevation. This section is intended to help you over any of these hurdles, and come to terms with your new role as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Perception Change

Some people may react to your elevation in funny ways. They may distance themselves, or suddenly want to be your best friend. Some people will hold you to unrealistically high standards; others will say you're getting above yourself. Some people will expect you to be the font of all wisdom, and some will say that now you're a Laurel you think you know everything.

This kind of thing can be very frustrating and hurtful; especially if the people concerned are close friends or people you have known for a long time.

These reactions can have many causes: there may be an (subconscious) element of jealousy or resentment, a feeling you've "sold out" or become "stuck up", or simply the traditional Australian preoccupation with cutting down the tall poppy.

Probably the best way to handle this is to ignore it. For the most part, it is their problem, not yours. You have had a change of status in the Society, and with that often comes a change of perspective. The people who know you may need time to adjust to that, just as you do. Rely on your true friends, and keep doing what you have always done. Sooner or later things will settle down.

New Peer Guilt

The most common stress point is characterised by the statements, "My work isn't good enough to be a Laurel" or "I'm not worthy of being a Peer". This can be experienced at different levels, from brief hesitation to long-term crippling self-doubt. Almost everyone goes through this stage at some point, and it is perfectly natural: the trick is to not let it overwhelm you.

The membership of the Order has thought about and discussed at some length your skills, your personal qualities and your comportment, and they have agreed that your work is at the required level, and that you are worthy of the honour. If they weren't completely sure, they wouldn't have asked you to join them in the first place. So don't worry, you're there because WE WANT YOU!

Too Much Responsibility

Sometimes a new Laurel can be daunted by the seemingly overwhelming responsibilities that come with Peerage. Responsibilities to the Order, to the people, to the Kingdom, the bonds of fealty, the obligation to continue teaching, proper conduct in public: all this can look like far too much to cope with. However, keep in mind the fact that you're considered capable of fulfilling these responsibilities, and probably are already without realising it. Even so, having it all set out in front of you can be intimidating.

You might want to look at what you do already as a starting point, and, if you feel the need, build from there. Break it down, and look at your obligations one step at a time. Give yourself time to adjust and above all have fun in what you are doing. "If it isn't fun, don't do it".

Instant Expert Syndrome

Once they see that medallion, some people will expect you to be a one-stop reference library.

There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you don't know something about a particular subject. What you can do is explain your lack of familiarity with the subject and either point the que rent to someone who is familiar with it or help/tell them how to go about finding the information themselves.

One pitfall you have to watch out for is the temptation to think you do know it all. Some people think that now they are a Peer, they must know the answer to every question, they must have an opinion on every issue, they must exercise their "authority" whenever the opportunity presents itself.

In becoming a Laurel, you have been recognised as an expert in one or more fields of study. Even so, you don't have to know everything in your field – you can't know everything. It's impossible. In fact, the minute you hold yourself up as the final authority on a subject, you are failing in your job! You should always be willing to learn more, and encourage others to do the same.

Laurels are only human, and the temptation to flaunt the knowledge you were recognised for can be strong indeed; but in doing so you can lose others' respect and gain a reputation for being dogmatic and arrogant. Go softly, offer your skills and opinions gently, and always be wary of hubris. Don't demand the spotlight; let the spotlight come to you.

Resting On Your Laurels

When you become a Laurel, you have worked hard and come a long way. DON'T STOP NOW!

It may help to picture an upright yardstick with a marking three-quarters of the way up. The stick shows your journey of learning from the beginning, with the mark being your elevation to Laurel. Of course, there is still the quarter length at the top for your continued learning. However, upon reaching elevation, the stick is now turned upside-down. This describes your new journey into Peerage, learning as you progress.

You Can Still Be You

Becoming a Laurel does not mean you should totally change your personality! Just because you have been made a Peer doesn't mean you can't tell a joke, hang out in the tavern, or that you must give up your barbarian persona and become a renaissance clotheshorse.

What is expected is that you exercise self-restraint in certain situations, and be aware that your actions will have consequences. Even if you are having THE worst day of your life, stop and think before you scream abuse at someone if they bump into you while dancing. Consider what damage might be done if you repeat that piece of juicy gossip. If you simply must bitch about someone's costume/fighting-style/lover, do it where you WON"T be overheard.

On occasion you will stuff up. Everyone stuffs up, be they commoner, Peer or Prince. In such cases, the most courteous and mature response is to admit culpability and apologise. Once you have done that, learn from it and move on. Don't beat yourself over a mistake that has been corrected.

Remember, after everything's said and done, REAL LIFE must come first. Do what you can for the Order and the Society, but you also have to pay the rent.