I wrote not too long ago about how I often seek the easy way out in friendships…don’t call, don’t set up times to meet, look for ways to avoid interaction…in spite of the fact that I know how good my friendships are for me, and how happy I am when I follow through on plans, etc. I realized yesterday that I do the same thing (and have been doing the same thing) in my work life.
When I was a teacher, I was always hoping for a snow day, an assembly, a fire drill, lots of absences…anything to avoid having to get up there and do my job.
When I worked in an office I hated when the phone rang, when people came to the sales window.
When I worked retail my heart always sank a bit when people walked into the door, walked into my department.
When I waited tables I wished for slow shifts, for people to not be sat in my section.
At the Science Center I’m always hoping for a slow day, for fewer students and families, for people to walk by my explainer and go on to something else.
All of this in spite of the fact that:
1) When work is busy it goes by WAY faster.
2) When work is busy (most obviously in waiting tables) I make more money.
3) When work is busy I feel good about myself and what I am doing and leave feeling energized.
Here’s the thing too: I am GOOD at interacting with people. I don’t mean to sound cocky. But I am personable. I am polite. I am NICE. I can talk to anyone…old, young, male, female. I am friendly and knowledgeable. Deep down inside I believe I am a damn good teacher. I can do all of the jobs I have ever had and do them well. I have always had success in the jobs I have had, even though teaching was hard as hell and I often felt like a failure…I know that if I had kept it up and not quit to stay home I would be a really excellent teacher by now. Does that sound over the top?? I don’t mean it to, because believe me I am well aware of all my faults and would be more than happy to tick them off for you here, but perhaps in another post. The bottom line is that I make a great extrovert, even if there’s a part of me that wants to be an introvert. I may not always BE a nice person but I damn sure know how to ACT like a nice person and I’m pretty darn good at it.
So…what’s my problem?? Why do I let that introvert part of me often control how I feel/react/plan out my days? Am I really that lazy that I just don’t feel like bothering to interact with other human beings???
I’m sure that’s a part of it. I have some measure of self-control, I don’t eat everything I want to all the time, I run and exercise most of the time, I don’t call in sick, I still do what needs to be done for the most part even when I don’t feel like it. But I definitely have that lazy bone. That part that whines “But I don’t WANT to…” even when it comes to friendships and relationships, casual or otherwise.
But I don’t think that’s all of it. I know that a lot of it is fear. Fear that I won’t measure up. That my lesson will flop. My friend won’t get it. I’ll screw up the transaction. Drop a bowl of soup in someone’s lap. The science experiment bombs and the kids are all staring at me like I’m the village idiot. Fear that my performance will suck and everyone will then think I suck. I don’t want to screw up and it’s so much easier to avoid screwing up if you just don’t do anything at all.
And some of it too is the frustration that comes with dealing with other people. Human interaction is messy. It gets ugly. Your friend hurts your feelings. Your wife is a bitch. Your father-in-law is hyper-critical. Your mother is a total mess. That customer is rude and demanding and makes you feel like shit because you accidentally shorted them what, 6 cents?? The students are rowdy and naughty and misbehaving. And you have to deal with all of that, deal with all THOSE PEOPLE and THEIR ISSUES because you are in some sort of relationship with them and good god wouldn’t it just be easier to not call, not talk to them, not have lunch, not teach because then you don’t have to deal with all of THEM.
Because of course you have no issues yourself that would make you difficult for anyone else to deal with…
Work was busy yesterday. I fought with myself internally over the desire to have people come up to my explainers which of course they did because the science center was full and busy. And the day went by fast. And Felicity’s son Colton (who I think is probably WAY smarter than me) thought my silly demonstration with the Drawdios was cool (I’m telling you that made my day right there), and those two African-American ladies were hilarious as they laughed doing my Smell challenge and high fived me when they got it all right, and a friend came for my lunch break and we talked and encouraged each other. And I went home feeling that high, that energy you get that only comes from interacting with OTHER PEOPLE that you can never, NEVER get from isolating yourself.
So. Am I going to be the lone wolf? Or make myself part of the pack?
The pack might be messy. But it’s safe too. It’s more fun. It keeps you alive.
That’s not to say I don’t need my alone time. Of course everyone does. But I think you’ve always got to come back. Join the others. Slog through the messy parts because the only way to get to the fun, exciting, life-bringing parts.
*Sorry I got all “wolfy” on you here. I’m not like someone wearing a t-shirt with a giant wolf howling at the moon on it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my thing but for some reason the wolf metaphor seemed to work 🙂 If it doesn’t work for you go listen to “I Am A Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel. Was going to incorporate that in here somehow but instead I got all wolfy. Forgive me.