philosophymom (philosophymom) wrote,

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How'm I doing?

This week's Friday Five offered "performance evaluation" -style questions, to be answered with respect either to work or to life in general. I chose the latter. Ready?

Here goes!

1. In what way do you maintain a tidy and efficient workstation?
The truth is, I don't -- presuming, that is, that you're talking about my home office, which is where I actually do 90% of the "workstation"-type work that I do (paper grading, etc.). But that's just changed, as I've tidied it in anticipation of Number Two Son's pre-wedding return to the house (it was part of a general house tidy-up). A clean desk, I'm finding out, is a real morale booster, not to mention a time saver. Maybe I'll try hard to maintain it?

2. In what way do you maintain positive relationships with others?
I like people and detest drama, so I find it pretty easy to be pleasant in most interactions. Also, I'm genuinely interested in others' stories, and I'm always primed to be impressed by their talents, both of which can be gratifying, right? (I know I like it when people are interested in or impressed by me.). Years of socialization as a female and a Christian have conditioned me to "give in" (you know: fall in with others' plans, abandon debates before they get too heated, etc.) in any situation where there's not much at stake (which is, surprisingly, most situations!). I always dance with the one that brung me, and I never fail to buy my round. If I were someone else, I think I would enjoy associating with me.

However, I acknowledge that this is all pretty superficial stuff. Sure, some of it is indicative of positive character traits that go deeper, but I'm willing to admit that merely being nice in the way that I've outlined above isn't the same as being pro-actively thoughtful in the way that makes one a Good Friend. In each of my various contexts over the years, I've constructed a life in which I am perpetually busy and easily distracted. I spread myself thin, evidently preferring breadth to depth, so while I may experience myself as giving 100% in any given situation, we may be talking 100% of not very much. Under the veneer of my niceness, I wonder, how much *there* is there for anyone else?

And, to be honest, I probably don't let people in very far. Don't mistake me: in the right circumstances, I might confide about my personal trials to a stranger on a bus. But at the end of the day, my private life is lived by me, for me, with immediately family the only ones in the inmost circle. I don't burden friends with things that I regard as family matters, and as I sit here and reflect on it, I believe that I have always considered this attitude to be a gift from me to my friends. But maybe potential friends just experience is as a "don't get too close, and for heaven's sake don't expect me to get too close to you" vibe. If someone needs a lot from a friend, or really needs to feel needed by his or her friends, then that person may find me unsatisfactory. And maybe that's why I don't ever have very many friends at a time, and why I only have one active friendship in my life that spans decades.

Now, I have a host of friendly acquaintances (people from church, from my Sherlock Holmes group, etc.) who I know wish me well and who might come to my aid in a pinch (as I hope I would for them). And, of course, I have my family. But since the Man left, I only have one close friend (the "spans decades" one). If I'm as independent as the above suggests, you'd think I wouldn't care, but I actually wish things were not as they are.

[I feel the need to say that I sure tried to be a Good Friend in my marriage. I was completely genuine with the Man, in a way that I never have been, nor will be again, with anyone else. I let him 100% through to my inmost circle, past everyone else, and I thought I was in his. I felt I'd've given him anything he asked for, and I did surrender, without a second thought, many things in the inevitable compromises of marriage (as did he, I'm happy to add). Also, I was superficially nice, because, while that may not be sufficient for a great relationship, I regard it as necessary (again, I'd've also said this of him. We seldom even argued). But none of it was enough. I suspect some of the problem was that "spread too thin" thing, especially after the kids came, but I'll never know for sure.]

3. What effort do you take to be punctual?
I am familiar with the maxim that "early is on time and on time is late," and I do put my best effort into being at least a little early for everything. That said, for all my trouble, I probably only rate a B+ in punctuality overall. I know I could do better, though, because I am 100% NEVER, EVER late to a play, concert, or movie. I guess nothing else matters to me quite as much as those things?

All that said, I also believe that the Western obsession with chronos is a cultural thing that doesn't necessarily represent an absolute value, so I don't know why I feel so bad about my B+. Maybe it's because every single one of my jobs (teaching; playing for church services) is an inescapably clock-driven gig? *sigh*  Flextime is one of the few things I miss about life in the old cubicle.

4. What are your strengths and challenges in communicating effectively?
Communicating is what I do for a living. I'd say I'm good at talking, and I used to think I was pretty good at reading a room (that is, that I am aware enough to know whether I am making a connection with whomever I'm talking to, so I can switch tacks if I'm not). However, the longer I stay in teaching -- where I continue to get older, but my students remain the same age -- the less sure I am of the latter.

My general communication strengths are an organized, logical mind; a solid command of grammar and rhetoric; acute self-awareness; a sense of humor; and the fact that I genuinely care. My weaknesses are a tendency to long-windedness; a fondness for tangents; acute self-awareness; and, relative to my chosen profession, the fact that, personality-wise, I am a statistical outlier who was constitutionally incapable of connecting with the youth culture of her own youth, let alone that of any succeeding generation. Basically, I am a super-nerdy old person who was never really young. If I only had to communicate with people older than I (whose by-then "establishment" culture my outlier self grew up appreciating), or people of my own generation (who are now all old souls, too), or nerds of any generation (because we speak the same language), I'd be fine. Alas, both as a teacher and as a mom in the Year of Our Lord 2018, my constituency is mostly 20-year-old normal people who know that however much I care, I will never truly "get" them ... and I just have to do my best.

You know where I am most successful at communicating? Church. In my Lutheran congregation, at least, the majority of folks are older, and there are a surprising number of nerds.

5. What will be your focus for growth in the coming year?
I have lost focus where weight-loss is concerned, but I'd like to get back on track. On the more promising side as far as current trends go, I have de-cluttered my house for the first time in years, and I'd like to keep it that way. Finally, I have come to see my continued attachment to the Man, in the light of the fact that he has so definitively moved on from me, as a tad less than healthy, and I would like to drop it like the bad habit I believe it has become.
Tags: friday five, memes

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