Not necessarily at the same time.
Not necessarily connected.
So, anyway, there I was, at work, running the drop-in lab and wondering what the heck???? I have eight computers, one of which I hold for myself so that I can shoot resources to the people working on the other computers. That means that there are seven computers available.
Today, six people dropped-in, three regulars and one site employee who I am feeling bittersweet about helping because, well, I love him and his family like crazy (especially their new baby) and would do anything for them, but if he finds a new job I will no longer be able to groove with them. And, it is wonderful to help him and I will miss them and it is as it should be. All righty.
The other two people were complete computer novices, at either edge of the working edge spectrum. Fascinating to work with each of them.
There was a half-hour when no one was there and I was catching up on stuff and a friend stopped by, not to work, but to chat. He told me that a certain behavior of mine has always bothered him. You can imagine how eager I was to learn what he disliked about me.
He told me that he has always been uncomfortable when I am flirting with someone, and that it especially bothered him that I was not discriminating (his word) about who I would flirt with. But, he needed to tell me that he read an article recently that talked about how politeness is often mistaken for flirting. That common, ordinary courtesy and friendliness and being polite and engaging is something that most people do not either recognize or practice. He said that he had misjudged me as a shallow person, someone who was careless with other people's feelings, but mostly shallow.
And, I sat there and listened to him talk and talk about this, and I could see that our friendship was not quite what I thought it to be. I guess the truth is that none of our friendships are all that closely aligned to what we think they are or want them to be. And, then we had a laugh about it and some more chatting and he left, with promises from both of us that we will get together for lunch in the next few weeks.
It was only later that I thought about what it means to be friendly and comfortable with other people. I foster that with my clients because by the time they get to me they have been disappointed by the others who they sought out for help. So, not only am I totally in love with my work, it extends to my clients as well, but that is not what he, my friend, was talking about and it is not the energy about this that grabs me.
I should probably Google to find this article. For now I want the idea to percolate within me. Why should being friendly, fun and engaging be misconstrued as being sexual? I do not get it, except that I kind of do. I think that common courtesy is all too often missing in the way we treat other people. Our families and friends are relationships that are complicated by repression of, or decisions to avoid dealing with conflicts and disagreements. You know, if you cannot get along with your aging parents or your stupid and selfish sister, or your friend that hogs the conversation, or that other friend who is always trying to borrow things from you, then the familial and social conventions are compromised. There is a false and strained relationship that might appear to be mutually supportive, but is most likely a hidden, steaming and rancid stream of discomfort, judgement and misunderstanding.
So, if you expect to have to be polite to your family at the major holidays, I get that, because I have done that myself. There were times when I would reach out to the sister-in-law who disliked me, want to share time together, during which I always held the hope that I could figure out what the hell she so strongly hates about me. Not dislikes, but actually hates. I digress, but she is the sister of my ex that tried so hard to hurt me, something that shocked me, although it should not have, as every attempt to befriend her was used against me. Optimist that I am, I held out for some opportunity to turn that relationship in another direction. Anyway.
My point is that I truly get the practice of being nice only on the surface, with no heart to support it. Yet, I never considered that it could be seen as flirting. All these hours later, it still stings a bit. I just have to wonder how many other people, even clients for gods sake, think me a stupid, uncaring, careless and phony asshole. I hope it not many, and however many there are I hope they read the same article and cut me some slack.
Or, maybe I do not. Care. All that much. This is making me feel defensive and a little feisty. I have the weekend to get over myself. I am not important in the world in anything close to that respect, so no big deal. I just think the whole issue is interesting and I suspect that I might remember this sometimes and sort of examine how I am with other people. I wonder if any of the people I know think that I am flirting with them. Man, I hope not. Crazy stuff.
As for regret, that concept is what helped me make a decision about the job offer from Tuesday.
I decided by thinking about what I would regret more. Would I regret not taking the new job or would my greater regret be about leaving most of the work I am doing now.
The new job makes sense in every way. It would be an opportunity to do exactly the work for which I have been training. It would put my certifications to use, active, every day.
Staying where I am makes sense, too. I am doing work I love and am really, really good at doing it.
So, I will be declining the new job offer. I am going to wait a week or two and then make an appointment with the director of that program to officially tell her and to explore a couple of less intensive options. Maybe being an on-call advocate or volunteering a couple of days each months. Maybe she would have some ideas. Maybe I will think of more ideas. What is not a potential maybe is that she will be disappointed or upset about my decision. People are the focus of the work there, it is the mission that fuels everything that happens there.
Still. This is such a blessing, to have two choices of work to do. Work I love. Man.
I am just thinking that when I started this, I needed to spew out both issues, the mistaken flirting and holding regret. They did not seem connected when I began, but they do now. Life surely is interesting.