Writing the list of things that give me energy got me thinking about myself. (This post might not be interesting to you, especially if you have never met me. But I hope it might motivate you to reflect on yourself as an individual, too.) It's been interesting to step back and analyze myself as a person in various roles and groups.
First, the process of listing those energy-giving parts of my life really awakened me to the fact that I'm an interesting person. Or at least I think so! (I'm not going to waste writing time trying to be humble, because I don't think I'm being prideful either.) It was nice to deeply feel passionate about a few of the items on the list; editing, for example. I really enjoy correcting grammar on a page and rearranging words and sentences to flow better. Meetings also give me energy, because they often bring out creative ideas, and I love forming plans of action and delegating. Kent pointed out that he doesn't know anyone else who likes meetings, which caused me to look at the whole list and admit that no one else I know would have that same list. I felt like I was remembering that there is a "me" underneath my roles of wife and mother and Latter-day Saint, etc. Those roles certainly force me to grow and be a better person, but there is still a me that is different than all the other wives and mothers (etc.) out there. Even though I posed the question last month about the real me, I hadn't given that subject more than a few days' thought; so it was interesting to find a big chunk of the answer in just making a simple list.
Second, I was recently with a group of friends and we were talking about a variety of topics, many of which came around to parenthood and birth stories. I started to realize that my experience of life is very different from my friends'. Ever since I was a young girl, I've assumed that most everyone thinks the way I do. (Here's where my pride becomes apparent.) I figured that if others saw the facts I saw, they would obviously come to the same conclusion as I. Over the years, I've learned that isn't necessarily true. Take political parties for example. I've come to understand how people can look at one issue and vehemently take opposing sides on that issue. I attributed most of that disparity to the different backgrounds and lifestyle choices of various parts of American culture. Still, I generally held that people raised similarly to the way I was raised, with similar schooling, who share the general principles of my faith probably agreed with me on most issues--and non-issues too. But as I sat and listened to my friends share stories from their lives sprinkled with, "...you know what I mean...", I found more often than not that I did not know what they meant. Not that I couldn't understand what they were explaining, but that I often did not experience things the way they did. Let me give an example.
Two of these ladies were sharing parts of their experiences giving birth.
Okay; detour. I have to comment here on this topic. I find it interesting how frequently women come back to birth stories in their conversations. I don't think it's a right-of-passage thing so much as it is a very defining and life-changing moment in a woman's life--the labor itself and the effect of a baby to change just about every aspect of the mother's daily life--and it's something many of us have been through and can therefore use to relate to each other. I usually enjoy the stories themselves, but sometimes I wish that we talked more about ideas. Maybe this is another way that I differ from many women.
Back to the birth stories example. One friend talked about staying focused on her husband for support during a scary decision she was faced with at the delivery of her son. My other friend shared how she absolutely could not have gotten through labor and delivey without her husband there, and the group in general expressed how difficult it must be for military wives to have a husband deployed when their child is born. They all agreed they could never do that. I suddenly realized that though I had been through basically the same event as these women in giving birth, I did not experience it at all like they did. I was certainly glad that Kent was there for each birth, but more because it was an exciting thing for him and because I needed someone to take pictures! That sounds weird to say, but it's true. I don't doubt that I could deliver those babies--both my natural and my anesthetized deliveries--if he had been gone for some reason. When I later talked to him about it, he readily agreed that I didn't need him there (and it didn't bother him that I thought that way about it).
So I've started paying more attention to interactions with my friends, and I've learned that I am in the minority in many respects as to my way of thinking and experiencing life when it comes to my general group of friends and associates. Is it because I am attracted to people that are different from me? I do have two friends that I can see eye-to-eye with on just about everything, and I appreciate that aspect of those friendships. So maybe it's because I really am just more unique that I've always supposed. I think I like that, because it makes other people all the more interesting to me. I want to understand their thought processes and how their experiences have shaped who they are.
That's one reason I enjoy blogging. I think people generally open more in their writing than in person. (At least that's my experience because although I'm never opposed to it, I rarely have a heart-to-heart with anyone besides my husband or God. I simply don't make enough time for developing those friendships. I would like to, though.) Those of us who blog generally wait until we have uninterrupted quiet and thoughtful time, which doesn't happen face to face when small children are running about or waiting for our attention. For that reason, I really want to develop the art of great conversation. I don't want to waste the few moments I have to really get to know the people around me by simply talking about how their day went, etc. I want to find out what has shaped the people around me who I care about and with whom I find camaraderie, and yet who are apparently so different than I am. I think there is great value in our differences, and I want to learn from them.
Any tips for developing a great conversation in five minutes or less? I often want to discuss art or cultures or articles I've read, yet I worry that my first sentence about a topic that no one else has researched would be a quick conversation killer. Maybe that's why I like book club so much: everyone comes prepared to discuss the same topic, yet we enjoy each other's view points as we open new angles and possibilities to each other. If only my busy mom schedule would allow me to join/start some other groups.
What do you think? Am I way off here? Do we all feel quite unique, or do you find that you easily relate to your friends and associates?
(P.S. Anyone who made it to the end of this long and meandering post should get a prize. Go ahead and give yourself a spoonful of ice cream. What flavor did you get?)