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September Surrender: Day Twenty-Two

What I’m Letting Go

We have a ‘mentor’ program on my show team. My boss pairs people up for a few months so we can get to know people we otherwise wouldn’t know. It’s a small team regardless, but it’s a good idea to see everyone as an individual outside the newsroom. It took me a while to get the hang of being a ‘mentor,’ though. At first I just corrected everyone’s scrips and let them know how to be a better writer. Down the line I completely threw that out the window and just started asking people to hang out. I’m no teacher. I don’t even know what I’m doing half the time. So I figure ‘mentoring’ people and hanging out with them can be one and the same.

My partners and I would shoot the shit mostly about work stuff, but we get into life stuff too. It’s my favorite topic of conversation. And I used to be vague about it a lot of the time. Instead of drawing from my own personal experience, I’d try and make my points as reflections of society, as if everyone thinks the way I do. When I was in therapy, my therapist pointed out that I say “you” a lot after a direct question about how I feel. I try not to get too hung up about every little thing I say, as I’ve worked hard to fortify my filter to only say what’s appropriate in the appropriate setting. But I have let my guard down a lot in the past year or so, letting people into my own little world as long as they let me.

The thing that plagues me is wondering how much is too much? Where is the line between sharing and oversharing? How will I know I’m not just running my mouth and saying things people don’t give a shit about? I remember one time years ago when I was in college, I went down to the Jersey Shore one summer night by myself to walk the boardwalk and break the town border. I had called one of my friends to talk. I blathered on for forty-five minutes, talking about God knows what, not giving her a single chance to enter the conversation. I could hear her getting annoyed and frustrated with me, and yet I couldn’t shut the fuck up. I got off the phone thinking I had done something wrong and it was never spoken of again. Why would it be? It was an insignificant portion of both our lives, yet here I am sharing it with you here.

What I really need to get over is feeling like I’m somehow ‘selfish’ for sharing stories about myself, or sharing how I feel. Because it’s not like that. How else can I expect people to get to know me if all I’m being is one gigantic mystery? It’s not that I’m afraid to tell people things about me, I just don’t think they’re interested. It’s a strange back and forth I have with myself with thinking I’m the most interesting being on the planet, and believing I’m a nobody with nothing of merit to share. Neither of these things are true. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I’m a human with thoughts and feelings, just like everyone else in the world. But I’m also an adult who knows how to carry on a conversation. I ask questions, I don’t interrupt, and I don’t bring everything back to me without acknowledging what was said to me first. Learning to trust myself on this would be quite beneficial so I don’t have to keep sharing my neuroses with the internet.

What I’ve Discovered

The program we use at work has its own messaging system. It’s very useful if you need to tell someone something quick, something discreetly, or you just want to shoot the shit. And for someone who loves using words as much as I do, it can be one of the more fun ways to speak with someone. It’s how my friend *Lara and I got to know each other when we started working together over ten years ago.

Anyway, even though we all know the IT department can monitor our conversations at anytime (probably), the ‘toplining’ mechanic is also used for a work bitching tool. Sometimes you just gotta get it out, especially when you’re in as high-stress of a work environment as the news industry brings. It can be a great way to share what’s going on in real time, especially when some of the more unbelievable aspects of a job are occurring right at that very moment.

Lately, I’ve been lining one hour of my program then going back upstairs to my desk so I can copyedit the rest of the show. In the middle of the final hour of programming, I get a topline from a colleage.

“ASKFHASFNSDF,” it said.

I lol’d and asked her what was wrong. She expressed frustration with the current ship we’re all on, things I’m not about to repeat here because it’s not my story to tell. But I understood where she was coming from. I also was a little surprised she chose me to share these things with, as it was the first time we toplined all day. But I let her talk it out, get out the annoyances until there was nothing left to pour out. I asked questions where I could, offered advice where I could, but at some point I knew that the resources in my toolbelt could not provide her the answers she needed in that moment. So I sent this:

“i don’t know what to tell you dude. just know that you’re doing a good job and whatever skills you’re getting, through work or with people, will be carried along with you forever.”

The conversation kind of petered out after that. I knew she wasn’t expecting me to say the magic words and have everything work out perfectly for her, but I guess me being there to listen was enough. That all I was able to provide, and it was enough at the moment. I realized though that it’s okay to not have all the answers when someone shares things with you. Being a kind ear can help someone just as much as offering them advice. Letting them hear what they share out loud can help them find their own conclusions to things they may not have thought otherwise.

It’s okay that I’m not a guru that has all the answers. Thought I’d share that in case you might have thought different.

What I Hope to Find

My apartment is so messy right now. Well, not so much ‘messy’ as it is cluttered. I received two Amazon packages back to back which I unboxed and have left the items in my foyer. Last week I took out my vacuum and Swiffer dry dust mop and have not touched them since. My carpets are full of cat hair that I just try to step around. Only yesterday did I take last week’s laundry that was sitting on the couch and finally put it away. This place certainly looks lived in. It’s not a place I’d feel comfortable inviting anyone over to right now.

I’ve always preferred living alone. Only Child Syndrome. I was jealous in college because my best friend there had a roommate who never showed up the first day. We converted her room into a “dingle,” pushing the two beds together for one giant superbed. From then on, I never had a roommate ever again. I always had my own individual space, even if I live in off-campus housing. I’m not sure what me living with someone would even look like at this point, but I do know that having a shared space is something that’s desirable. Just as long as I have my own spot to make my own, we’ll be good. I never understood why Carrie was so mad at Big for wanting his own apartment in the first Sex and the City movie. Sounded like a dream arrangement to me.

I’m still learning ways I can open myself up to certain things I want, knowing that compromise is always around the corner. I don’t have to be closed off, but I don’t have to open my home when it’s not ready for two people. Even if it’s been open to them in the past, there’s still a lot more preparation left to do. I can’t give one hundred percent if I don’t feel like I’m personally complete yet. It’s probably why two people who know each other inside and out are able to walk by one another with only a small nod of acknowledgment. Maybe they’re just not ready to share everything they once did. Maybe that time is still coming. Who knows.

There’s a lot more I could get into on that, but it’s not quite my story to share. I’d love to one day open up and tell you all about it, though.

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