It's halfways through the summer and I find myself looking for some sort of temporary work. This is something I've never been good at. It's a bona fide challenge. My introversion shines really bright here as I try to humble myself while I simultaneously "talk myself up." It's a tough inner balance.
I glanced at possible summer jobs in May and June, but hoped that I wouldn't necessarily need to try to track one down. Now there's a month left of the summer and I am searching through Craigslist and whatnot for labor and whatnot. I've applied to Walmart, some custodial positions, and a warehouse.
I've never sold anything; I've never worked in a restaurant; I've never lasted more than a couple months in a service job. Despite my current desperation for social interaction, applying that energy to sales or service is really tough. It wears me out and I've been trained in too many leadership and educational realms to throw on a happy face and market something I don't believe in. But I fear that I might have to turn that direction if I'm to find any work for August.
Either that or farm work or something.
Anyhow, months after finishing my Master's degree, I am humbling myself in more ways than one: I've alienated most of my friends; I'm separating from my wife; I'm looking for menial work; I'm finding it very hard to motivate myself to do practically anything.
Humbling of this sort is par for the course and probably good for me. But it's hard. Here's to hoping for some good luck, that some employer can look at my overqualified resumé and see something they actually like.
I listen to a lot of podcasts, but for the last few years, this has been my overall weekly pattern to follow.
I've been trying to find cheap activities I can do with my daughters this summer. ON Saturday, we watched a few events at the BC Summer Games in Abbotsford. My daughters really wanted to see some of the equestrian events, so I watched some horses perform their para dressage. I took this photo using the 12x telephoto attachment on my phone, which creates these oddly saturated photos that are clear in the centre and highly skewed at the edges. Despite its limitations, it takes some unique, lomography-ish photos, like the one embedded below. I think it's interesting because the horse's face is crisp while the rider's face looks deliberately blurred, but that's just how the lens works. No "tilt shift" filter here.
When I was in middle school, I had a crush on a French Immersion girl. She had this long, curly hair and clearly intelligent eyes and seemed to buck the norm a little. Somewhere along the way, I don't know how, I decided she liked horses. So I read horse books in the library in case I ever needed to know about horses in a conversation with her. I learned about Appaloosas and canters and bridles and whatnot, but the information never really came into use. The imagined horse conversation with her never came, but we became friends in high school based on other interests. And there I learned that we would be terrible for each other. But I held on to some of that horse knowledge anyhow, which has been useful for my daughters who seem to really like horses.
So the blog post begins from the top again.
For years, I've tried to see opinions from the opinionator's perspective. When I was religious, for example, I felt it important to understand how non-religious people saw the world and deliberately sought to understand my faith from "their" perspective; now, as a secularist/humanist/whatever, I think it's important to understand and remember how religious thinking frames one's overall mindset and do my best not to dismiss religious ideas. I think I'm fairly good at maintaining two separate truths in situations like this; empathy is something I'm generally at peace with, and it tends to work for me.
However, the social media echo chamber is a legitimate concern. On Twitter, etc., it takes effort and dedication to "follow" people who piss you off. I recently came face to face with this when I unfollowed a Twitter user whose raison d'etre had morphed into an anti-feminist MRA mouthpiece. I followed them for a long time despite my differing perspectives on things, but I could no longer handle (what I saw as) their closed-minded vitriol. It's perfectly OK to close out toxic people and perspectives; it's my right to do that. Right?
However, when I unfollowed them I simultaneously closed one more door to an alternate opinion and way-of-seeing-the-world, and I'm not fully at peace with that. I hate vitriol, but I want to understand the different ways our society disenfranchises different people. As much as I tend to see Men's Rights Activists as inconceivable, misguided, entitled whiners, I still want to keep myself open to perceived injustices. That's part of their angle on the world and the more clarity I have about their perspective, the more I'd hope that I won't fall into similar entitlement traps.
I think of this a bit when I see those articles about "Who are these Trump supporters," where writers try to make sense of Donald Trump's popularity in a population of people with whom they themselves likely have very little crossover. On reflection, I realized that I do not "follow" any Trump supporters that I know of in any of my social media feeds. I have "othered" that portion of the population and chosen to view them through my chosen people. In the case of Trump, just like with MRAs, I've justified closing my feed to their perspectives because I perceive them as misguided and intellectually and empathetically shortsighted. But I don't know if that's really the right thing to do.
As somebody who values empathy, I'm also aware of its weaknesses. Empathy doesn't help in every situation, and sometimes we can mis-aim it in careless directions, or people might aim it at us when we don't need or deserve it. Empathy is important in all relationships, but it's a skill we need to hone and practice every single day.
The following quotation, embedded below, describes a situation when empathy might be a little misplaced, since people might use your empathy as a tool for injustice.
In this case, it's important to remember that even if we can see something from somebody else's perspective, it doesn't mean they can see it from your perspective. The ability to empathize could be a rather narcissistic, assumptive skill; we assume we can do it and that our perception is accurate, and this very much might not be the case. Just because we feel that we're empathizing doesn't mean we are. Empathy is a sort of essential relational delusion that brings us together under seemingly common feelings and perceptions. We need it, but it's not necessarily accurate.
I guess what I'm struggling with right now is the fact that I feel as if I empathize with numerous different people and peoples, but I could very well just be narcissistically assuming something completely off-base.
I may empathize, but there's no way to prove that I can do it.
That means I have to trust myself. If I feel like I'm working hard at it, and if I'm trying to learn and practice empathy more, I also need to develop the self-confidence to trust my perception. And trusting myself has always been a very hard thing for me.
My empathy depends on my own self-trust.
Today I spent a little time in Vancouver for the first time since late November. I had to pick up my daughters from the Airport. I parked our hideous pickup at Scott Road Station and took the SkyTrain downtown, aiming to find my way to YVR.
This was easy to do because I like walking.
And when you really like something, it's hard to see why people think it's so weird. My students in Hope laughed at me when I'd walk the five blocks to downtown Hope for groceries; my fellow teachers raised an eyebrow when I told them that I regularly walked five kilometers from my home to the Mall of Arabia in 6 October City; when I told party-goers last weekend that I walked an hour and 10 minutes to the party, they looked at me like I must be hiding something. But I'm not. I enjoy my walking time. I really do.
But back to my story. I made it downtown and meandered a little.
And I got back on the SkyTrain to YVR. When I met my daughters and mother-in-law at Arrivals, they wanted to go get some food with some other in-law members of the family. They chose the Cactus Club in Richmond. They didn't have room in their car, so they offered to send someone else to come out and pick me up. And I said "No." I wanted to ride the SkyTrain and walk.
And by the time I was finished my SkyTrain ride to Richmond, which only took 20 minutes or so, I'd written this rant:
I'm the #WalkingSnob. Unless #WalkSnob is better. How would I know?
I don't know how to hashtag.
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