There seems to be a distance between most other people and I. On some level, they are unable to relate to me, and I to them. All the friendliness, care and kindness in the world cannot make up for this lack of familiarity. Specifically, I’m having trouble connecting to my colleagues at work. I can (literally) hold someone when they are feeling vulnerable, I can empathise with them when they’ve experienced a great loss, I can laugh at their jokes and work hard and be the perfect sales assistant. But it does not mean they will like me. It confuses me how I can treat someone with great kindness and care my whole life, and yet those same people can take out their irritations on me whenever they’re upset.
As I have mentioned before, being liked by colleagues is an important part of working if you’re in any kind of team. Being favoured, particularly by management, leads to all kinds of favours and special treatments. More hours, convenient days, being allowed to surf the web, standing around talking instead of working, taking longer breaks and getting paid for them and so forth. These luxuries, while I don’t need them to draw gratification from the pleasure of working, are certainly convenient. But I seem to be treated with a kind of confused misunderstanding, a tolerance rather than a celebration.
And I can’t help but wonder: it is me or is it them? Eleanor Roosevelt is reported to have said: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people.” This is something that has really resonated with me. I know in my heart that I care about more important things than bouncy hair and expensive dinners and shiny cars, and that the ideas I think about are sometimes pretty big. Could it be that, as in the 41st verse of the Tao Te Ching, foolish people mock me for following a path of virtue which they do not understand?
Or is this arrogance entirely to do with my own ego and my difficulty connecting with others? Is there something fundamentally different about the way I think and who I am, and that difference creates the fear that leads to distance and distrust? I must confess, at times I wonder if I have some kind of social disorder without realising it. Am I just an oddball who can’t get along with others?
I lose sight of what’s what because the issue is too close to my heart. But I am grateful that not all of my relationships are like those I experience at work. I have a few friends who I dearly love, and who love me, in whose conversation I delight and whose ideas I admire. And it gives me hope that maybe it’s not just me, and that “my people” are out there.
Gosh, I do hope I’m not a socially inept weirdo. T’would be awfully lonely if no one appreciated the things about me that I love so much.