Monday, March 16, 2015

Eavesdropping on Inspiration

Yesterday while sitting at one of my favorite cafes doing client work, I overheard the two women next to me talking about (presumably) one of their sons who (it seemed) had been auditioning for a role in a theater production. The one woman said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "he told me 'if I don't get it, that's ok.  I'll know I'm just not the person they wanted. I left it all on the floor back there, so I know it's not that I can't do it. It's just that I'm not the person they want."  He knew he had the talent in him, but he also knew that it was possible that for this particular role, he just wasn't the right fit.  If that was the case, he was ok with it because it wasn't going to cause him to doubt himself and his abilities. He gave it his all and he knew that's all he could do. I thought, what a great attitude! Wouldn't it be great if more people could approach life that way? Wouldn't it be great if I could?

It's so easy for us to define ourselves by what others think. Let's face it, in certain ways, we do have to care what others think, at least as it applies to a particular circumstance. If someone can't get a job because nobody thinks they're the right person, and as a result they are having trouble paying bills and putting food on the table, then it's probably natural to start caring that someone, sooner or later, does think they're the right person. And it would be natural for this person, especially if they're person who already suffers from depression or anxiety, start to feel increasingly depressed or anxious. It's also natural that they'd start to doubt themselves. But I think the key is to be able to separate, as this gentleman in the above conversation appeared to, the difference between what others think of you in that circumstance, and what it means about you as a person. You might be a wonderful person and a great candidate for the job, except that you don't have one very particular skill they're looking for, or the number of years of experience, or the specific degree they require, even though you know you could do just as good of a job without that degree because you do have the experience. Which means that you not getting that job is nothing about who you are. It doesn't make you any less of a person, even if it feels like it. It's about that particular circumstances, and their specific requirements only.

I'm using jobs and roles as an example here, but the same goes for relationships. I've been in relationships in which we were both great people, but we just weren't right for each other. We may even be good friends now, and as friends, we are "right for each other", but as a couple we were not and never would be. If I was the one "dumped", at the time it might have felt like a blow to myself esteem (read: surely felt like a blow to my self esteem). I know now that it wasn't. Simply, it wasn't the right fit, and honestly it's better that we found out then than later. And if someone treats you like you are less of a person? That you aren't good enough? Let me tell you something: the one that isn't good enough, that is less of a person, is them. Not you. How someone treats you says everything about them, and nothing about you. It's that simple. Sure, our behaviors and words can inflict pain and sadness (which often comes out as anger) just as much as they can inspire someone to feel love towards us. But each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions, and another's actions in no way define who we are as a person, unless we let them. This is true not only for "romantic" relationships, but everyone in your life - a boss, a colleague, a friend, a family member, or anyone else.

I want to say a thank you to the women and the (presumably) young man who inspired this post. I'll probably never see you again, and undoubtedly I'll never meet the young man, unless we all happen to once again be in the same local coffee shop at the same time - which wold be quite serendipitous and probably equally as unlikely. But your conversation gave me something to think about, and indeed something to write about, and for that, I am grateful. Whoever you are, thank you. And for his great attitude alone, I hope your son gets the part. 

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