Pity. It’s ugly, it’s selfish, and yet it’s oh-so-easy to slip into.
And it’s one party that you’re not invited to!
I’ve had a lot of pity parties over the past few months. And while I knew that they were completely uncalled for, it still remained difficult to pull myself out of my own head and focus on issues much more worthy of my attention than poor little Natalie.
There was an incident toward the end of the summer that I like to call my “Pity Party Wake Up Call.” And while I can’t say that I haven’t backslid into a few parties every now and again, I can say that this incident re-focused my perspective entirely.
It was late August and I was in one of my unemployment funks. My dad suggested that we go out for ice cream as a pick-me-up (what a kind man!). Unfortunately the ice cream didn’t perform the miracle that I hoped for, so when he and my mom decided to stop in Rona on the way home, I chose to sulk in the backseat of the car. (If you’ve read my Pizza and Prank Phone Calls post then you know I have a flair for the dramatic).
I laid down across the bench, clutching the car keys to my chest while my right arm flopped dramatically across my forehead in a “woe is me” fashion. I squirmed, whimpered, and muttered a few “why Gods” with a grimace fixed as hard as stone upon my face.
And then I opened my eyes.
Peering at me through the window was a rugged, good-looking man – probably in his early 30s – with concern written all over his beautiful face.
Mortification ensued, quickly followed by uncontrollable laughter. This poor stranger probably thought something awful was happening, yet in reality I was just feeling sorry for myself. So I was having trouble finding a job. Big deal! I live in a nice house, have a great family, money in the bank, and no debt for me to worry about. Oh yeah, and I experience about a hundred other blessings on a daily basis.
I gave a slight wave to the stranger to assure him that all is well, and that he needn’t worry about this peculiar girl having a psychotic breakdown in the car beside his. He laughed, waved in reply, and then he was on his way.
The embarrassment hadn’t quite worn off and I was in a hurry to get out of there, but unfortunately my parents took longer in Rona than my new friend did. When he returned to his car a few minutes later – casually glancing toward the backseat – I sat up straight, swept my hair across my face, and pretended to be engrossed in my fingernails.
I came very close to having another identity crisis/pity party a few weeks ago, when I started working part-time at a store. At the end of our shift one of my co-workers, a student in grade 12, asked me how old I am. “Twenty-six,” I replied.
“Oh,” she responded, “So…what made you want to work here?”
I wasn’t in the mood for being humbled. I tried to formulate a response that would allow me to maintain my pride, “It’s just for now, while I look for a job.” “I’m new to the area.” “I need a little extra income as I write on the side.” Blah, blah, blah, etc., etc. Why did I care so much about being justified? Does a person’s worth come from their place of employment? No, it doesn’t.
Prior to getting hired, I had spent a couple of hours at the Job Resource Centre before I decided to browse the shops in the plaza nearby. I saw that my current place of work was looking for part-time help, and since I had my resumes with me, I decided to apply for the job. As I got chatting with the manager and sales associates we built a quick rapport. While talking about caffeine addictions, living in a small town, and various others topics packed into 10 minutes, an important thought occurred to me: This is what life is about. Relationships.
I could fritter away my time worrying about finding a job that’s going to make me feel significant, or I can refocus that energy on the people that I meet and the friendships that I have.
Even now as I type this, a familiar refrain pops into my head…
To be known is to be loved
and to be loved is to be known
Otherwise what’s the point of doing either one of them in the first place?
I’m enjoying getting to know each of my coworkers. I like spending time with them and learning about their lives; taking a genuine interest in the things that they do and the people that they are.
This job is good for me. It’s teaching me to be thankful. It’s teaching me to be hard-working, to be faithful – even in the little things – and to do a job well done. It’s teaching me to find joy in all things, and to choose joy, even when I wish things were different. It’s teaching me to be a person who desires joy more than I desire my own dreams. It might not be the job I wanted, but I’m certain it’s the job that I need.
So please, if I ever ask you to come to my pity party, please RSVP with a resounding, “NO!”