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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Talking about work

If you want to earn my undying adoration, ask me how my job is. And really want to know. There's nothing I like talking about more, especially with someone who is interested. But if you're just asking to hear a "fine, thanks, how is yours?" well, that's usually what I expect. And I'm self-conscious then about really talking. I stumble over my words, trail off, and scan your face furiously to see if I can pinpoint the exact moment when you lose interest, because I am terrified of overstepping my bounds. That no one really wants to know that one of my clients tried to commit suicide, or that another's husband is stalking her, and I had to listen to his angry messages on her voicemail. Or even the good stuff, like how three of my clients have bonded, and once clustered around my desk together, talking, referring to themselves as my three babes. And how my heart nearly leapt out of my chest and I felt totally complete, in that moment.

I try to keep it to myself--no matter how hard it is--and minimize the importance of talking it out, because I'm worried people don't like to hear about it. Most people nowadays who ask about my job don't pursue the conversation further after I say, "oh, this week was really stressful [or fantastic, or whatnot]." I think people feel uncomfortable with anything more, and I worry it's because they think I'm bragging or something. "Look how good and noble I am, working such a job." I'm afraid it comes across as superiority, and that I look down on others who don't work or volunteer someplace difficult and draining. I have no idea where this came from, if I'm overly sensitive, or have accurately picked up on people's signals. I guess it's not surprising--I really don't think I'm better than everyone else. (I think I don't do enough sometimes, but that's not a reflection on what others do, it's my own sense of inferiority and perfectionism.)

Except once I had a friend dump me for being too self-involved (I was going through a rough breakup at the time. Cut me some slack, ok?), and I still blame that for being scared now to talk too much about myself and my things. I know this "friend" was unusually cruel, and never a good friend in the first place, but still. It's always easiest to believe the bad things about yourself.

I don't know how to get past all that, and trust that I can share myself with others. Where are the people with whom I can make an instant connection, and let down my guard--and babble about my crazy difficult wonderful amazing job? Why are they so few and far between--and even scarcer down here?


Blogger Megan said...

I love hearing about it. Mostly the wonderful, heartbreaking stuff. I'm not going to lie; some of it scares me and makes me so sad. But I know that this is your life, and you wouldn't do it if it depressed you.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think what you are feeling is EXACTLY why people bond so much in graduate school. A group of people who know about and care about the same things as you. you can sit and talk for hours about things in detail that no one else understands or cares about (in such detail anyway). That said, you job is very interesting, and i certainly like hearing about it! kt

6:54 AM  
Blogger metrogeekboy said...

So to bond do we set up these blogs where randomness is the norm? Random little ionic connections that stick under the right conditions. A little too much heat and things fall apart. Everyone has a charge, but is it strong enough? Would I kill to sit down over coffee and have you talk to me. Yes. I like your words. I like the way your perceptions filter facts. But miles away I'll sit down and read. Maybe this is a covalent bond, the closest we can get to real. Rather than your job, how is your mind today asks the future psychiatrist. What's up in there. Alone but not lonely ~J

10:02 AM  

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