In November, the day after the election, I arrived at my children’s school for pickup to a sea of gloomy faces. I had a particularly good writing session that day and was happily eager to share the high from that experience.
A parent I had rarely interacted with came up to me and said “How you holding up?”
Holding up? I didn’t know what they were referring to. It was as if someone died. Maybe someone did and I didn’t know.
“Holding up?” I asked.
“About the election?”
So this is what this was all about. I’d stopped following politics months before as my blood pressure was skyrocketing and interpersonal relationships were impossible if the subject of politics came up. I had no investment in the results either way. I liked neither candidate.
Without skipping a beat, I replied cheerfully, “Not my religion!” My children attend a Catholic school so this sort of reply is not shocking or out of place in this location, unlike the rest of Seattle.
“Amen!” the other parent replied and they moved along to find another parent to commiserate with.
I’ve noticed more of this sort of behavior in the last two months. People want to complain and be miserable together. Politics aside, people seem to want to talk about how miserable this year has been. I understand. People want to connect with each other. Making fun of the latest political mess up or shared sadness over a celebrity death seems to be the lowest common denominator.
The tone of most interaction is akin to what I call the social worker tone. I’ve had a bit of experience with social workers in my life. When they ask you “How are you?” they ask with a concerned look on their face, with a tone in which you could only reply with something negative. Believe me, I’ve tried to answer in a positive light and it usually comes back with a “But really, how are you?” as a reply.
I want to connect too--and ask my friends, I’m not immune to complaining---but I want to move past this sort of interaction. A great man once said, “Complaining not only ruins everybody else's day, it ruins the complainer's day, too.” I’m going to work on this, especially this New Year. Because well, if you really want to know, I’m absolutely fantastic! I’ve had an amazing year. I stretched out of my comfort zone to start a writing career. I shared thoughts I’d been frightened to and had nothing but the kindest response! I spent the year learning more about myself, moved to a closer understanding of my family and friends and starting hearing God’s voice just a little less faint than before.
I am great and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us.