October 16, 2006

On being "open"

I’m not what you would describe as an “open” person or a person who “shares feelings” well. Mostly I replace “feelings” with a combination of wine, self-mockery, and ironic finger-quotes. (Never doubt the power of ironic finger-quotes to trivialize emotional discourse. I’m making them right now, just without my fingers).

In a clear violation of the ironic finger-quoter social contract, I’ve recently been encouraged by a wide variety of people to be less “closed off” and more “emotionally available.” Judgmental people.

So trying to share my thoughts and feelings is a new thing, and frankly I'm really bad at it. I think I need signposts, or maybe flashcards, or some other very clear set of rules that will tell me what is good sharing (I’m worried about my presentation tomorrow?) vs. bad sharing (Every single time you open your mouth I just want you to SHUT IT?).

For example, I sat through an entire hour-long meeting this morning with my zipper undone. You’d think any one of my four female coworkers in the conference room could have, I don’t know, subtly motioned to me that my underpants were showing, but no. I discovered this on my own after the meeting ended.

Showing your underpants at a meeting clearly falls into the “bad sharing” category. This is the level of obviousness I understand.

Then this afternoon I saw a homeless guy sitting on the sidewalk near my office building holding a neatly hand-lettered cardboard sign that said HELP ME GET DRUNK. If I hadn’t been walking with my boss, I totally would have given him a dollar.

Probably more than a dollar, because that’s the kind of openness I can get behind.

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