The job I currently hold is at a truly lovely private school on the wealthier side of town, that the children of (almost entirely) wealthy families attend. It’s a great place, & I am thrilled to be employed there. One of the many benefits of this school is a gourmet dining service which sources much of the food locally & is allergy-friendly (meaning a variety of foods free from common allergens are offered & ingredients are listed plainy). So, fridays are pizza day at this school. Always have been, probably always will be. In years before, the school has sold Little Caesar’s cheap, low-quality, crowd-pleasing pizzas as a fundraiser. Now, however, the school buys & re-sells pizzas made by the on-campus dining service. Last week during a study hall in my classroom, a student named Jackson (who delights in playing the role of class clown) wrote a complaint about the pizza on my whiteboard: “[Dining service] pizza is like eating cardboard with ketchup & goat cheese.”
I chuckled, but after three weeks of overhearing students lamenting the pizza, & hearing about a LEGIT PETITION that the students had drafted & collected signatures on (more than 100! These kids need to be in politics, no?!), I could no longer resist the urge to share my opinion on the matter.
“I will spend this weekend crying every tear for the poor students of this school who are forced to eat gourmet pizza.”
I observed them as they read what I had written. Their facial expressions were priceless, a mixture of taken aback &: oh my word, she totally has a point.
I told this story to my dear friend Meghan & she was quick to point out how beneficial my ability to share “realness” with others can be.
Her words were something along the lines of: you make other people feel like it’s okay to be uncomfortable, to acknowledge how absurd life is sometimes. You help people see how off their perspective is without making them feel bad about it.
My other best friend, Emily, is a woman of few words. When I sent her a picture of the white board her response was succinct: Everyone needs your realness.
(Side note: I wish phenomenally encouraging friends like this on every human. They are the biggest blessing of my life, hands down.)
I think that the ability to turn every (perceived) bump in life’s road into an opportunity to know oneself better is an innate human quality. But on my good days, I can access that power better than folks who are Cut from a Different Cloth.
Last night I went to an art exhibit at a gallery down the road from my home. I pontificated to my partner about my (perceived) inability to make friends at such social events, but my desire to keep showing up anyway (I’m fairly certain that only people who are cut from the same cloth as I would complain on the way to an event that they had suggested attending). Three minutes after we entered the bustling space (having snagged snacks, of course), I was engaged in conversation with someone I thought I had recognized, but don’t actually know. It was uncomfortable for me, the whole conversation, yet so lovely. The man was shifting from one foot to the other, lags in the chat between us brought me (and probably him) bouts of panic, but we made it through, & I walked away feeling the glow that follows the creation of new connection. The conversation was another chance for me to learn that my lack of self confidence is almost ALWAYS grounded in unreliable feelings rather than reality. That moment of coming back to reality is part of what I like most about the particular shape of my personality. I laugh at myself & internally celebrate returning home to reality, again.
I’m writing this series about what it is like to be in my skin, because I see what is lacking (another superpower ;)) in lots of the texts about folks like myself.
Humans are glorious.
I am no exception.
Neither are you.