I had been grumpy and irritated with the consulting work I do for The Hindu Group. There were things that I wanted to be done and done fast given that I work only a few hours for them in a day. Over the course of my now 16 years of work life, one of the things I have realized about myself is that my exacting standards of perfection can’t just be imposed on everyone. I recognize it, and I still lose it when others can’t match up, try as they do.
So, I had been especially annoyed with the pace of work on the social media channels for this company. Can you imagine me? A social media strategist who doesn’t have any social presence? I laugh at the irony. I have kept myself away from FB, Twitter, What’s App, and I am on Instagram only because Travelling Birdy insists I should be there. When she insists, it is hard to say no. Especially when she has all my passwords, and can with a smug shrug of her shoulders just reactivate any account she pleases. LinkedIn is difficult to evade without losing my business.
But back to the work – I fumed and sent snarky emails when things were not moving at the pace I wanted. I received silence in return from the social media person who I was dealing with. And silence I hate. Detest. Despise. When I met her at the office last week on our weekly meetings, she was quiet, exquisitely polite, and the banter we used to share was gone.
Life is sometimes a reflection of what we give out. Over the course of the week, I pondered about it. Life reflects what you give out. Life reflects what you give out. Life reflects what you give out. And I am increasingly realizing that. Was this poor girl’s silence just fear? Yesterday I decided to find out.
“Why are you scared of me?” I asked her, not knowing if she was. Her response was immediate. “Because you can get so angry,” she said. I cringed. “I am sorry,” I said. “I am just pushing you to do better than your best. I work here only a little while, and I want to bring out maximum changes in that period. It’s that which makes me frustrated.” She listened.
“It’s not personal. Please.”
She nodded. “Do you still like me?” she asked, tentatively. I smiled while kicking my shins under the table. How can you terrorize a poor girl like this! “Of course!” I said. And she smiled, and her face lit up. “As long as you respond to my emails,” I mock threatened. This time, she laughed. And it felt good. I don’t think I make many people laugh and I think it is a priceless ability to bring out the smile in another. It’s not one that I possess. “Perhaps, you will thank me 10 years later for all this,” I said. “I already do, SM. I already do,” she replied. (She is one of three people to call me that).
And just like that, I found myself. Every day, I am finding bits and pieces of myself. We see reflections of ourselves in everyone we meet. I almost cried when a man without an arm and leg tapped on my car’s (Yes yes, not car, Birdy – Toopi’s) window, asking for money. I couldn’t look at the stump that was left of his arm without tearing up. I gave him loose change, and then I thought why? Why couldn’t I give more? What did I think then? “I will give Rs 10. I need Rs 30 for the parking fee.” Not like I didn’t have more money in the purse. This was what was lying around in Toopi. I was too lazy to consider turning to the passenger seat and taking out the money from that purse.
Of such is our life. I am circling in the sky of life, watching myself swirl faster and faster in deep eddies, and at every step, I am learning that when we catch ourselves being mean and petty, it helps only to love ourselves more. Only love ourselves more. To be kind with the ones we meet. And to be kind to our self. That is the toughest.