Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I've figured it out.

A big part of my irritation with special snowflakery. Or maybe not the biggest part (the biggest part is still that I have to listen to the whiny entitlement), but still part.

And it's one of those "it's me, not them" things.

I don't have anyone around me right now making me feel "special." I look at the special snowflakes and think how nice it might be to be made to feel like you DESERVE all that just because of who you are.

I'm very good at putting my own wants (and sometimes even my needs) on the back burner in favor of doing what other people need (or, sometimes, want). I'm the person who makes it to every stinking AAUW meeting, even when I'm tired, even when I've had a really crappy day and will probably cry if someone looks at me cross-eyed.

Because I can't quite justify to myself, "You deserve to stay home this one time." No. Instead, I say to myself: "But you are the secretary. It is your responsibility to be there and take the minutes. It doesn't matter that you've been up since 4:30 and you have an 8 am class tomorrow. You need to be there and do the job you agreed to do." No matter that I don't get paid or even thanked very often.

Kate kind of touches on how I feel in her Nobodies and Somebodies post. I feel like that sometimes. Like everyone else is more special than I am, that they deserve good stuff because of who they are, and because I sometimes go days without anyone really even talking to me (other than to ask questions in class or a colleague asking me if I know how to fix the printer), that I'm kind of a nobody.

Like I'm surrounded by all these people who have convinced themselves they deserve, deserve, deserve and I look at myself and I go, "I don't." And I get to thinking that maybe I don't matter as much. That because I don't have people around me telling me how great I am, I'm not really that good at anything. That I'm not special, and that's why I wind up alone, and that's why I sometimes don't feel very good about what I'm doing, even as hard as I work.

(Mainly the feedback I get, when I do get it, is "you screwed up there" or "it's good, but I want you to now go back and change everything about it.")

I never quite learned the skill of saying "Damn, I'm good!" and believing it. I fear it's a little late to learn it now. At times I can say, "yay. I'm adequate" but it's rare that I ever am totally satisfied with something I've done, to the point where I'd give myself a gold star for it.

Because, see, I think about what I do. There are thousands of other people across the country who do what I do - teach college and do research. I would estimate that at least 80% of them are better at it than I am. Or at least they've convinced themselves that they are. And I get that old feeling of, "you're not that special."

Because, if I was, wouldn't I have applied to and got a job somewhere more prestigious? Wouldn't I have a lot more publications? Wouldn't I...maybe...wouldn't I "have someone"?

It's a hard thing. I know, like Kate said, it's kind of a slap in the face of God to feel un-special and not-all-that-great because after all, I'm supposed to be here for some purpose (though some days I have a hard time divining exactly what it is). But I do feel kind of un-special. Kind of invisible. (I remember as a kid reading a story about a girl who turned invisible. A kindly creature in the story surmised it was because no one paid attention to the girl, and she set out to make the girl turn visible by being nice to her. Well, the twist of the story was that the invisible girl was a real brat and everyone liked her better when she was invisible and silent, but still...I have days where I almost feel like I'm getting a bit wavery around the edges and transparent, where I wonder if anyone would notice if I had disappeared except for the fact that the stuff I'm 'supposed' to do didn't get done).

I don't know where I'm going with this, other than to observe that there are probably lots of other people out there like me - people who work in obscurity, who don't make waves, who do what they're supposed to. AND NO ONE FREAKING CARES. The people who get attention are the special snowflakes of the world.

And yeah, yeah, I know: I shouldn't get praise for doing what I'm supposed to. But once in a while, it would be nice to hear a "thanks" or a "way to go." I look at all the screwed-up celebrities who get adulation and think about all of the custodians and nurses and who-knows-who-else who show up every day and do their jobs and who live and die and get little attention or even, apparently, love for it. And let one drunk guy get up at the VMA and push his way in front of someone else, and he's got all kinds of attention. (Yeah, it's bad attention, but I swear some days any attention at all would feel like a nice change)

1 comment:

Kate P said...

Oh, yeah, you and I must be programmed the same way. You're right, we don't tell ourselves, "Damn, I'm good!" (Well, I do when I get the Final Jeopardy! question right. But only then.) Sometimes it really takes someone else's perspective for me to realize certain things about myself that are, you know, pretty good--like how every time I leave a job, the bosses are upset? That's a good thing.

We all laughed at Stuart Smalley's affirmations but sometimes we do have to step back, stop the self-degradation, and just acknowledge the good stuff. And like you said, that God does have a purpose for each one of us, even we don't get it. Deep down, I know that if living my life is pleasing God, then things are going the way they're supposed to.

And, uh, maybe we don't have to take as much crap from other people as we think we're supposed to.