Category: Life lessons

Communication

I’m amazed at how well I communicate my thoughts and ideas in professional settings. I’m equally amazed at how poorly I communicate in familial settings.

Self-awareness is not just something that’s important to me personally; it’s a major aspect of my professional life…therefore I continually reflect and evaluate me!

Recently, while conversing with some family members I noticed that I repeated what I’d said multiple times in response to the bewildered expression on one of the individuals’ face after I initially made the statement.

That’s nothing…no big deal, right? Wrong! In professional communications in response to a bewildered expression, I rephrase my statements in an attempt to provide clarity to my conversation partner. So, why did I not do this when I conversed with my relatives?

That’s something I’ve asked myself for years. I know some times I really have no idea how to clarify a statement. Yet, other times I’m unwilling to take the nanosecond it takes to rephrase my statements. That leads me to repeating myself and looking at my conversation partner like “why don’t you understand what I’m saying?”.

That’s insufficient communication skills on my part. Plus it creates barriers to relationship building.

Which brings me to another point – how can I say that my relatives don’t know me when I place barriers between us through my communication patterns?

Is building professional networks of greater importance than maintaining close familial ties? Based on my communication skills or perhaps I should say based on my efforts at communication, I’m led to believe I place more stock in professional networks.

But it’s not that simple! Of course, you know that things are rarely that simple.

Let’s review my communication efforts with professional networks. The fact that I’ll rephrase a statement to provide clarity…does not suggest that I place more value in these contexts than with my relatives.

Let’s also think about the patterns of communication I’ve developed through my family unit. The unconscious beliefs I garner about communication and my place in conversations.

We learn a lot about communication and how individuals operate amongst each other in our families. It’s also possible that the conversations with my family are more relaxed and less restrictive than the conversations with individuals I engage with in professional settings.

Do you notice any differences in your communication efforts with different groups?

If you do, is the simple reasoning for those communication efforts adequate? Or is there more to it than what’s on the surface?

It All Works Out

Don’t worry about it {whatever your it may be} because everything will work out in due time.

I don’t know about you, but I am not comforted by the aforementioned sentiment. For a fact, I often feel like it’s an insult when someone says it or any variation of it to me.

Unfortunately I’ve uttered similar statements to others; however, now my perspective on it has changed.

I know that individuals are well intentioned when they say things of that nature and they are genuinely attempting to comfort the recipient.

It’s likely comforting to some individuals, in a similar sense that statements suggesting that a higher power or the universe is working things out on your behalf.

Sigh, I’ve never been one to be comforted by such statements. I’m often someone who struggles to see past my current situation and circumstances. I guess some would say when it comes to my perception of my life, I’m a glass half-empty kind of person!

This is not the case when it comes to my perception of other’s lives and the advice I give. That’s when I’m beyond optimistic and encouraging.

This part of my personality, makes me a great advice-giver and not so good advice-recipient. Especially when that advice requires me to change my perception of my situation.

Before you start with the shenanigans about how this is a bad thing and I need to work on it…let me ease your mind: I actively work to improve myself and my life daily. This includes changing how I perceive my situation and circumstances.

So, yes I work on it, but, I’m a work in progress to say the least. I don’t necessarily see my perspective as a bad thing, however, there are times when the balance is not there!

For instance, during the last few months, I accepted a job that will launch my professional career, I’ve managed to keep my bank account open during a long 7 month stretch of unemployment, and I never once became homeless or experienced true hunger despite my lack of income.

Ok that sounds great right? All things considered, but I see my situation through another set of lens.

That set of lens suggest that I’ve been unable to pay a single bill independently for the entire year of 2019 thus far; I had to depend on my parents, extended family, and friends for the simplest of my basic needs; and most of the time when my phone rings it’s a debtor whom I must tell the same tired story about why I am unable to pay my bills; I have multiple educational degrees and yet I was unable to secure any employment; my credit score has plummeted; and yes I have a full time position lined up that will launch my professional career and it is the position I desired but it doesn’t feel that significant.

Think about the differences between those thought statements. Now, imagine how an individual with the latter thoughts feels when someone says it will all work out.

Imagine their surprise when the person with the latter thoughts is unable to even faintly smile in return to their well intentioned statement.

Sigh. I’ve been told that I’m a negative person and that I make others uncomfortable when I do not take comfort in their sentiments.

Ok, so here’s the deal…I’m not here to for anyone’s comfort and it’s nonsensical for me to change my feelings about my situation and circumstances for the sole purpose of making someone else feel that their advice is inspiring.

Additionally, the phrase that it will all work out is on the same shelf as it could be worse…those phrases are empty platitudes.

I’m not naive I am very self-aware. I do not waddle in despair and I do not feel that my situation and circumstances are hopeless. However, I do not feel comfortable in this situation or with these circumstances.

I am entitled to feel however I feel. I believe it would be much easier for people to simply say, that sucks during the rare times they hear of my situation or circumstances.

Plus, it’s more than appropriate for an individual to tell me that they do not care to discuss my situation because it’s bringing them down. It’s important to take care of you, and part of that is protecting your own mental health.

Thankfully, I don’t sit around and incessantly gripe about my situation and circumstances. For a fact, when most people are made aware of them they are shocked.

But on the off chance that I do share with you or that anyone tells you their less than good current situation and circumstances,..try not to immediately find a fix! Just listen and once you’ve had enough change the topic.

And please, be mindful when you say it will all work out!

What’s something that irks your nerves when you’re in the midst of a trying time?

Let’s talk about today…

I’m in the land of the living; however, most of my residence today is in the I Am Chronically Unwell camp! That’s no problem!

Well it’s a bit of a problem…let me explain.

I’m what most people would consider invisibly unwell. Meaning that there’s not many external markers that give away my membership in the club of chronically unwell and/or sick individuals.

There’s millions of individuals who have invisible illnesses so that’s not the problem.

The problem is that at times my acting skills are so good that even I forget that chronic ailments take up residence in my body. Yes, acting skills! Day in and day out I purposely put on my best face and I muster up all the strength I can to downplay my membership to the chronically unwell club.

Through the years I’ve worked hard to not allow my ailments to define me. We’re not going to get into how psychological, physical, and emotional damaging this mindset can be when it has limited impact on the true state of illness.

I won’t say that this acting is a bad thing, neither will I declare it a good thing…I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I’ll just say the acting is what I do on a daily basis. Acting as if I am free of any ailments despite the fact that my body is riddled with ailments became my way of life decades ago. So much so that presently acting well is simply a habit now.

Sigh. So when I have days like today when my illnesses outweigh my acting skills and I must pause…I struggle.

I struggle because I’ve spent so much time pretending to be well that I forget how to tend to my illnesses.

I struggle because no one is used to me saying no or being unable to participate in whatever activity they want me to.

I struggle because on those days (today) I’m forced to look at myself and see the illnesses that I fight so hard to ignore.

I struggle because the illnesses impact my entire being.

You’d think I’d only experienced days like today once every three years, the way it seems to knock me down. You would think that there’s no warning signals and that I’m always caught by surprise based on my reaction to days like today.

None of that is true.

I frequently experienced days like today. There’s generally always warning signs and I even take steps to prepare for the life interruptions. Yet, I’ll never get used to the toll days like today take on me.

Days like today will be familiar, yet foreign.

Yesterday

The first thing that comes to mind when I consider the word yesterday, is Boyz II Men’s cover of The Beatles’ song Yesterday.

One of the most vivid memories I have of that song was at one of my relative’s celebration of life or what’s more commonly known as a funeral. The song was covered by someone at the service, I recall thinking that the song the individual sung could not be the Boyz II Men song that I use to pretend I hate a fight with my fictive husband!!!

Pause — I won’t reveal how young I was at the time but let’s just say that I was not even dating, let alone married!!!

Oh and I loved to pretend to fight with my fictive significant other because that meant I could be single again. Lol! Even then I was eager to not be attached to anyone or anything that would potentially hinder me receiving an education.

Hey! I didn’t realize that I could be in a relationship or even married and still get my education. Those things felt like they did not belong together.

Anyways, back to yesterday…this post is not about the song or the beautiful rendition of it at my relative’s service…no! It’s really about yesterday.

Here’s another thing – yesterday is not referring to any particular timeframe other than before the time of writing this. You know some people want you to be specific! Like I’m writing this post about an event that occurred at 1400 hours June 5 2010!!! Lol

I may be a bit goofy…stay with me I’ll make a point and if I don’t you’ll at least enjoy my silliness.

Yesterday, I thought I had everything figured out. I knew what I wanted in life; but most importantly I knew who I was.

Like the song says, “it’s hard to say goodbye to yesterday” but I have to say so long, farewell to you my friend, goodbye for now, until we meet again — Yes I just referenced Out of the Box from Playhouse Disney.

I had to say goodbye to yesterday’s image I’d created of myself and all the things I thought I had figured out because today I realized I’m still learning.

I’m changing everyday I’m becoming who I am…that sounds weird but I believe that I will never arrive as long as there’s breath in my body. I don’t mean that in a bad sense but just that I am unaware of what the future holds and how events will shape me so although yesterday I had it all figured out…there’s a great chance that that configuration doesn’t work for today.

I am always becoming who I am. Yesterday I thought I understood who I was going to be today…but today I realized that I’m still learning.

I’m Walking Away

Walking away from everything and everyone sounds so effortless and effective…it may be. I’ll never know.

So much of my identity is tied into things and people that walking away from all of it seems like an awful lot of work. I’m not interested in recreating me.

I refuse to walk away from everything and everyone

However I am placing everyone and everything in an appropriate position in my life.

I’ve noticed that I’ve given too much to some and too little to others. I’ve used some things too much and other things not enough so balance is what I strive for.

Balance in my relationships with people and relations with things.

At times it feels like walking away from everything and everyone is exactly what I should to remedy my situation. But rarely is the seemingly easy, easy.

Transitions, transitions, transitions

I’ve written a lot about transitioning from grad student to PhD and the job search. Many of my trials and triumphs I expected to have…others not so much.

The changes in relationships are something that I was totally unprepared for. I’d read the literature that suggests that the first generation graduates like myself had unique relationship issues.

It’s too painful to write about really. I never expected my relationships to change in anyway once I got my degree.

Some people think I behave like I’m better than them while my behavior hasn’t changed. The knowledge that I have degrees has and the attention I receive has changed.

I’m proud of myself and although I don’t share my accomplishments widely I am proud of them. I refuse to downplay my accomplishments to make others feel better. Yet I also only mention them when I’m asked about it.

I’ve never thought I was better than anyone, however, if someone believes I am better than them…who am I to dispute it?

I have no control over another person’s reactions to me. I take responsibility for my actions and I realize that my matter of fact way of speaking may easily offend others.

I’ve always been that way. Im very analytic and at times it may very well seem that I’m speaking an unknown language. At times I will think through something aloud while speaking with someone and I’m certain to them it sounds like gibberish

I see people as my equals and I speak to everyone the same. I speak to a 3 month old baby using the same direct speak I use with an adult.

I’ve speculated that I could possibly be somewhere on the autism spectrum – but I always conclude that if I am I’ve learned how to cope throughout the years.

Plus my quirks have not gotten in my way. Perhaps it’s not the degrees, accomplishments, or attention that created the changes in my relationships.

Perhaps it’s the direct exposure to me on a day to day basis. I believe that when an individual is around you, you witness their quirks in a way that you may not usually notice.

I’m generally reserved and I enjoy solitude. I don’t like to converse with multiple people at a time – not because I’m stuck up, but because I have total hearing loss in one of my ears.

I’m upset now because I try to present myself as a kind individual who really just loves to help. To know that there’s at least one person who thinks I belittle them, is troubling.

I’ll think about the accusations for awhile and I’ll survey my behavior when I’m interacting with others. If there is anything I can do to address this alleged behavior, I will.

Even with that, I know that I don’t think of myself as superior. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in my life and I’m thankful to everyone who helped me along the way.

I imagine this is just another part of my transition….but no one told me that my relationships would change.

Independence

I’m a bit rusty on child development research; however, I know that between the toddler and preschool years children stake their claims for independence.

Oh yes they want to prove that they no longer need their caregivers to help them with anything. Most of us in the United States are very familiar with the coined phrase, “mommy wow, I’m a big kid now” thanks to a popular advertisement.

This time of independence is often challenging for the caregivers. This stage is one of the first times, caregivers get a glimpse into the future when their child is less dependent on them. This stage comes quickly; however, many caregivers feel like its sudden.

As you know I’m certainly not a toddler, nor a preschooler but I’m once again staking my claim for independence.

I’ll explain…I’ve had a various jobs throughout my life but the next job will be the first position I have where I’m also not simultaneously a student.

That’s all great but it has little to do with my claim for independence.

My claim for independence stems from the fact that I’ve reached a place in life where I’m not concerned about being identified by my family or any attributes.

I don’t want to identify myself as X’s daughter or a member of X organization.

So my independence embodies the fact that I’m stepping out on my own and I’m defining who and what I am. My family and friends don’t have to hold my hands because like the child attempting to prove that they are a big kid now; i am showing my Family and friends that I’m able to do these things I’ve set out to do,

I’m a big kid now!