Daily Prompt: Attempt #9 (Aimless)
My Dad asked me for good comebacks over dinner, for when curious family, friends and others hear about our family’s exploits and passions and life-ways.
I’ve come to the conclusion that people will always, for the foreseeable future, ask what it is I am doing or am planning to do with my life, as if they perpetually forget that it is currently happening, that the answer has been told in variations hundreds upon hundreds of times at family gatherings – maybe secretly they are hoping for it to change to the one they want to hear or to something they understand.
I for one wish they’d ask wanting to hear the answer and know a little of the person’s experience, rather than carrying out the seemingly token social gesture of asking for asking’s sake and not really connecting to the conversation or individual past the first phrases of “What are you up to these days?” “What are you going to do after?” “What credential do you have and where is that going to get you?” “When are you going to get a real job.”
Here’s my answer: I am working full time at a job I love, with a fantastic team of people that literally fill the building with laughter and caring and support for everyone that comes in the door or over the phone. They are not ‘crazy’. Working in mental health is not synonymous with dealing with some unknown ‘other’ population in constant crisis, denoting suicide attempts, substance abuse and straight jackets. Mental health can and does affect everyone. People come in looking for help and support and information and they are just like you and me and your neighbour across the street. They are people with stories and families and skills and personalities and hopes and dreams just like all of us.
Just because you can make a joke about the family tree having perhaps a few nuts on it doesn’t make you special or immune, or tell me that you really care about what I’ve just said. Treating me like a walking encyclopedia of mental health conditions and resources isn’t really appreciated either. If it’s a cry for help, I will do my very best. But I don’t know it all; I am not a professional. And at the end of the day it’s your journey and you have to take those first few steps: visit your doctor, ask for information and support, go to a support group. I’m not saying it’s easy or fun but eventually you have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Trust me, there are people that care about you and professionals who are there to support you and resources out there to help you. Unfortunately, all of that can’t come to your doorstep and provide a magic solution, you have to create that first connection.
And as for my brother, he is a professional athlete. And he works harder than anyone I know. What does he do? The formula answer is to say that he rides his bike as fast as he can downhill. He trains with some of the best in the world. Mechanically, nutritionally, mentally, physically, he does all he can to be the the very best he can be to compete at the very top of his sport. He represents Canada on the world stage and works tirelessly to develop and maintain relationships with sponsors, trainers and other world-class athletes, building a solid network of contacts and support and a wealth of knowledge. He is his own trainer, manager and mechanic, travel agent and financier. He works incredibly hard all year. He is doing what he loves, and he is very good at it. Yes, he rides fast down hill, but there is so much more to the story.
People try very hard to bust our bubbles; they just don’t get it. The fact that my mom still does laundry for everyone at home is of great contention within some circles… Aside from the occasional load of laundry or jar of peanut butter, my brother and I are 100% self-sufficient, we make our own ways in the world, are happy and healthy and have sustainable routines and a wealth of transferable skills and support that in my opinion means we are pretty well-prepared for whatever life decides to throw at us, wherever we go and whatever we decide to do.
Forrest and I, Mom, Dad and Ruby, too — sorry I couldn’t fit you in! We are not aimless or helpless or waiting for our lives to begin or for our real jobs to start. We are living them, and we work hard every single day.
“If you really want to get to know someone, spend the day with them.” (Unknown)