I am alone, often. Don’t mistake this as a cry for company, I like my silent spaces and will paint them in deeper silence more frequently than I realize. I am I think strange in liking my silent spaces, no television, no background music, no white noise to distract me; only me, the clacking of my nails on the keyboard and occasionally the roll of my lighter as I fire a cigarette, or a candle.
I have always been this way, always liked the silence the quiet of empty beaches with only the waves for company. I have always liked mountaintops in the winter with only the crunch of snow as your feet break through icy top layers or you slide across the top during a solitary run on slick ski’s. I was always able to dance in a silent studio, without music except what I heard in my heart my body following a rhythm all its own.
Don’t mistake me, I like people truly I do like people in small doses. I enjoy a night out with friends; a great meal with magnificent wine is my idea of a fabulous way to spend money and time. Given the right group of women (or men) I could sit up all night and talk, I know this is true I have done it. With some people, I can spend hours on the phone and have far ranging conversations that touch on nearly every aspect of life, from children to government misconduct. I am not I don’t think a hermit.
Nevertheless, I love my silent spaces and have never felt the need to fill them. As I have grown older, I feel as if I am growing in. I am looking for balance; you know that ever-elusive balance we all seek in life between our mental, emotional and physical well-being and what the world requires of us. The requirements of paying the bills, keeping a roof over our heads and the lights on and if you live in one of the hot as Hades during the summer months keeping the air conditioning pumping, at least at a reasonable temperature so you don’t look like the Wicked Witch of the West or the Polar Ice Cap, you know…melting.
Growing in, what does that really mean? For me it means I am finding myself less and less likely to be tolerant of the bad behavior of others, this is especially true of what I perceive as the ‘entitlement’ syndrome. What is this you ask; well you should ask as this it is a growing phenomenon within society today. There are many infected and this nasty and pernicious disease of the soul spreads into both their personal and professional interactions touching all they touch and leaving an oily residue behind.
Growing in, I find what it means is I am unwilling to sell myself short or cheaply. What was acceptable even five years ago is not any longer “just part of the package, just part of the business”. I have ten, maybe fifteen years left to work, I love what I do, at least I use to truly love what I do. I worked very hard to carve a niche for myself in what had always been a man’s world, I had put in my time and when I say this I don’t just mean the years I mean the 70 hour work weeks and the millions of air miles. I now find I am truly unwilling to accept the disdain from some asshat recruiter who calls me with an opportunity but then has the nerve to say the following to me:
“Would you be willing to pay your own expenses to Philadelphia for a face-to-face interview?”
This for a 4-month project!
Then had the nerve to say to me, “Your rate is too high, I can find someone for half that price at an all-inclusive rate.”
“No, no you cannot, not with my level of experience, not with US Citizenship which you stated is a requirement and not with my references. But you know you should go ahead and try, call me back when they screw up the project my rate is double when I do project remediation.”
Yes, I did say that. I don’t know if that particular recruiter understood half of my response, however since it was in writing he can look up the big words.
Growing in, I find has created a great big question mark in my life. That question mark is leading me down the path of questioning what I really want to be and do right now and for the remainder of my productive / working life. What are the other things I truly care about and that matter to me? My independence in work, yes that matters. Being able to take time to myself, yes that matters. My silent spaces, yes that matters a great deal. The questions though are these:
Does my independence trump stability, focus and being able to chase other important dreams?
I am alone, often. This is not a complaint, not a cry for company. I like my silent spaces. I like my growing in. I like I am questioning my new places and maybe yet again reinventing myself, what I don’t like is I am being forced to this by an environment unkind to people like me, people of a certain age, certain gender, certain type; people who are growing in like me.