Day Forty-Eight (Compassion)

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I hate that most of my entries recently have become about fandoms and work. But right now that is all I really have going for me. I hope that changes in the near future, but for the current moment it’s all up in the air. The future is uncertain. Either way, I am at least growing from my experience working retail. So it’s not all for naught.

I know I have complained in earlier entries about nasty managers and stressful bosses. A lot of work days have become almost unbearably tense and overwhelming for me. It’s not even the customers that worry me (I actually love interacting with customers for the most part). It’s the higher ups, the co-workers, and the situations where I don’t know what to do. A few seem to pop up within every shift and I’m always making stupid mistakes. Like letting the popcorn burn, not counting change properly, or giving someone the wrong size order. It doesn’t help that I have massive insecurities in regard to retail work and that I have terrible social anxiety. Unless I can trust every single person I’m working with on a shift, I’m going to be nervous and tentative. Then I’ll start making mistakes. I have yet to reach the point where I am comfortable with most of my coworkers and these things often take a lot of time with me. Sometimes I never reach that point. Either way, there’s a lot more tension than I’m readily prepared for.

That’s not to say that I’ve never been in positions of power, respect, or comfort. I have found amazing support systems, been a leader in organizations, and become a lot more confident in myself in many areas. When in those positions, I often still tend to find the outcasts and loners. The kids who don’t quite “fit in”. I know what it’s like to be on the outside and alone and I don’t want anybody else going through that. But, right now, I’m back at the bottom again. In all stages of life. And, when at the bottom, I’m doing what I do best. Lay low. Stay quiet. Apologize a lot. Bring out the doe eyes. Try to appear as unobtrusive, innocent, naive, and kind as possible. Hope that it gains at least some sympathy. Silently evaluate, analyze, and work my way up the ladder again. It’s a longcon. But it works.

But, when I’m at the bottom, things can be hard. I get a lot more pity than empathy. A lot of judgment. My communication skills are poor and I come off dumber than I am. People think I’m weak. Insecure. Scared. I’m underestimated everywhere I turn. And I get walked all over. When I’m at my best, kindness is appreciated. It’s nice, it’s calming, and I am alway grateful for the aid. But when I’m at my bottom? That’s when I really need the help. That’s when I need people to be patient with me, to see past the exterior, and to just be kind. Compassion is one of the great character strengths a person can have. Somebody to say “Hey, we all make mistakes” and laugh it off when I do something dumb. Instead of glaring, scolding, and making me feel like a failure. Somebody to go out of their way to ask if I’m okay when I feel like utter shit about myself. Or to just lend a hand and say “you got this”. Simple little things like that. Even just letting a hiccup be a hiccup and moving on. Instead of harping on it, judging it, and then scrutinizing me. I already think everyone hates me. I don’t need confirmation.

I’m not saying that people should be coddled or babied. Nobody deserves that and that’s a little demeaning. All I’m saying is that people should treat each other kindly. Look out for one another. Show patience and understanding. Practice compassion. Even if somebody frustrates, annoys, or irritates you. Just try to see where they’re coming from and be nice. Can’t do you any harm. When I graduated High School and when I graduated College, it was not the naysayers and critics I remembered. Well, I remembered some of them. But the people I was grateful for, the ones I fondly remembered, and the ones I am still thankful for to this day….they’re the ones who showed me compassion when no one else did. Who saw the good in me before everyone else caught on. Who believed in me, inspired me, and pushed me forward. Who just lent a hand when things were hard.

The reason I’m talking about this today is because, for the first time in awhile, I finally caught a break at work. Most of the people I was working with were supportive, kind, and patient. They shrugged off my little mistakes, trusted me to do my work correctly, and helped me when things got hard. Nobody kept a wary eye on me or criticized me for everything I did. It made a huge difference for both my work and my self-confidence. I try so hard to be that person for others. Someone who shows compassion, when others either judge or ignore. Have I succeeded? I don’t know. I hope so. Either way, it’s an important trait to have and it really absolutely means a lot. I know it’s said a lot, but one kind word can mean a hell of a lot to somebody. I know I have never forgotten the people who showed me compassion. Going all the way back to Elementary School. It means a lot to me.

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