Hannah: Meaningful Work + Perception
The image above is meant to illicit feelings of reflection and whimsy.
Below are two anecdotes to get the ball rolling on ideas of meaningful work and perception:
I closed my show (see last blog post) this past Sunday. One evening, I walked into the lobby with our lead actor; he immediately saw someone he knew and went to talk to them. An older woman walked up to me and said, “Is that the boy who played [the lead]?” When I affirmed her inquiry, she immediately walked away from me. I felt ashamed that I was stung by her lack of acknowledgment.
A woman walked into People’s Liberty a few days ago and asked about the Play Library. I described the ephemeral nature of our Globefront and pitched You Are Here. She responded dryly, “So you just sit here all day so people can color?”
I laughed uneasily and told her I was the Events Programmer. We shared an awkward pause.
Maybe she was genuinely curious as to what I doing down here alone. Maybe she couldn’t see past my desk as I plugged away on my laptop, but I felt my pride percolate when she insinuated that I “just sit here.”
After these events, I had an internal conversation with myself that went something like this:
By not getting acknowledged, does my work become less valuable? What does this say about me as a person? Do I expect a pat on the back for everything I do? Is this my millennial side coming out? Or is it a personality trait?
I like acknowledgment and validation. Whether or not I actively seek them is something I might have to uncomfortably delve into a bit further. Does that make me vapid? Self-indulgent?
As with everything in life, balance is the key. Being praised and being ignored have both positive and negative elements: praise can illicit a sense of self worth or an “everything I do is right” attitude; being ignored, on the other hand, may offer a sense of independence or a crippling assurance of worthlessness.
I guess what I’m getting here is that over the past three months, I’ve been acutely aware of two things:
the meaningfulness of work
the idea that my perception is only one reflection of an entire prism of reality.
So where does my work find meaning? There’s always going to be a lady who brushes past me or someone who thinks I “just” do something; but then they walk right out the door, and who am I left with?
I choose if it is meaningful; and today I choose yes. Tomorrow, I’ll choose yes; and if one day I wake up and cannot choose yes without knowing it’s a lie, I’ll try something else.
Where else does my work find meaning? After cathartic fulfillment (or maybe because of cathartic fulfillment), I want my work to directly affect someone else. Ideally, opportunities happen, connections are made, joy is shared; self-reflection occurs. My energy gives you an energy: a spark that was humming low before it suddenly ignites.
How wonderful would that be?
That’s what I want. Isn’t that why we’re here?
My ease of life has increased exponentially by realizing that what I perceive as real may not be what someone else perceives as real.
Here’s a situation: we’re having a conversation. I say something. You’re like, “That was rude.” I didn’t intend for it to be rude, so I protest; and then we're in a disagreement.
Here's the thing: it doesn’t matter what I intended because you perceived my statement as rude.
I learned the idea of intent versus perception in an HR seminar; and as commonplace as the situation is, knowing this totally changed communication for me.
Even when we’re standing right next to someone hearing the same words or seeing the same things, the experiences are totally different because of how we uniquely perceive. While the sentiment is beautiful (or maybe not. It's kind of Ayn Rand-ish), it can also get messy when emotions rise or when perceptions don’t align.
(Aside: I could delve into effective communication, but that’s neither my place nor the point. I could also go into an additional aside about harassment or ignorance in this politically heated time, but that’s also not what this is about. Lastly, this is not to say that the self is the only thing that matters and that I don’t have to care for anyone else or consider their feelings. We’ve got to stay aware. Another time. Another blog post.)
The point I am trying to make is that I have to take things in stride. Most things don’t need a psychological probing. Actions are rooted in the self, in something beyond me– not in how will Hannah feel or respond if I do this.
I can choose to accept that or not.
(NOTE: I know– I know– that sometimes crazy things happen or that the serotonin just isn’t transmitting quite right. But usually–)
Salty CCC (chocolate chip cookies) from Brown Bear Bakery
Rooms with old wooden floors and large windows where light dapples in