The Twists of Time

I have been told that as a human, I am a social creature with social needs. In awe I looked at those around me as I grew older. How could they do this, and how could they say that? I vaguely remember thriving off the love and attention of others, but I can’t seem to remember when in my life that was. I watched and observed, quietly staying out of the limelight, gaging when and how people would act and respond so that I could choose to make their gazes and thoughts pass over me and move on. From an early time it all seemed rather meaningless and mundane, the ordinary interactions. I never spoke surface level, it greatly bored me. I questioned the deeper meanings and pondered the in-depth philosophies. I engaged people’s brains in surprising ways and found that some unexpectedly found it addictive. “Refreshing, invigorating, thought-provoking, I never thought of that!”, they said. People would sometimes seek me out to hear stories, some would listen time after time…”How do you do that! You never tell any story the same way twice!” I then realized that I always tailored my words to the audience based off of their interest level, age, gender, my knowledge of them (an early version of social media and Internet marketing perhaps). It seemed I could control people’s view of me in surprising ways to the point it became awkward…friends and acquaintances would meet and say, “I love her, she is so outgoing, fun, loud, quiet, reflective, giggly, boisterous, sweet, serious, honest, straight-laced, a prankster, always up to something, reserved, bubbly, so level-headed, flighty,…”. As they spoke about their impressions of me, they would begin giving each other really weird looks, and some even argued what they knew and what I would or wouldn’t do. I found it made them doubt me, though I had not been deceitful or dishonest.

I quit trying after some years. Settled into mundanity. Running and hiding at times from others, avoiding interactions. Refused to spark that light, or cast my pearls out there due to all the rather unexpected and often unforeseen results combined with the hardships life and time accord to us all in various attributes.

Fast forward a decade or so…I have been living to survive rather than thrive. I’ve become so used to not speaking or relating to others on an other than surface level where I meet them and just respond rather than initiate, react rather than create. My speech has dulled, I’ve grown accustomed to not being heard.

I am not satisfied with this. So now I must work at it, find new ways to interact, develop friendships that last. I listen and try to apply current events. I text or make phone calls, tell others what is going on in my life for the first time in years, listen to what is going on in theirs. I help people whenever I can, smile and make small-talk. I talk about the weather, kids and families, recipes and restaurants. But yet…I keep missing the mark. I am not connecting. Is it me? Or is it society?

Disappointments and Hope

I sat there all alone … surrounded by couples, aunts, uncles, grandparents, care-givers, siblings. I knew only a few by sight. They were all nationalities and colors, many women bearing colors tattooed on their arms and necks, many dressed so nicely and smiling brightly as they gazed around at each other. The names were called out as each representative of respective teaching elements came and took the podium to share their pride at the end of yet another successful learning year.

That morning, my daughter asked me again, “Will you please come to the awards ceremony?” I replied with the truth, “You won’t be getting any awards.” “How do you know?” I let her know that I would have received a notice to come to get awards. She insisted that I come anyway.

As each name was called out, I noticed people who recognized me waiting to hear my daughter called out. They checked in on me here and there. I felt my face squinch up as, each time, someone else was elected. I tried not to make eye contact and shifted and adjusted, drank my coffee, glanced at my phone.

As things concluded, the room became lighter. I turned it over and chose to focus on the cuteness of those sweet little third-graders, their bright smiles, the words of encouragement and accolades that were given to both these happy children and their persevering parents.

My daughter found my eyes and waived me over as the room converged on the center, to the stars of the show. We went to each other and I pulled her close. “I love you and I am proud of you. You have been growing so much this year, you are so much more responsible. It’s been a hard year, but next year will be better. We will work harder and do better, and it will be better.” Her face lit up from within, helping to erase the disappointments in my heart and hers.