Putting On a Happy Face

Recently, I posted something slightly negative on my Facebook page.

Feeling really grouchy & irritable today. You know, more so than usual. Thinkin’ it’s a good day to keep my head down and buried in work.

A friend responded.

Oh, dear – and you seemed so happy yesterday! Hoping it’s a temporary grouchiness and you’re already feeling better. <hugs>

Seeing that post really did help. Those virtual hugs aren’t just data. They’re emotion.

And that emotion that transmits via social media is why I’m generally careful about what I post. There’s research that indicates mood spreads via Facebook (check it out here), and I have no desire to add to the negativity in the world so I put on a happy face. I do the same thing at work, most of the time. I smile. Pretend I’m not hurting. Pretend everything is OK. And I bet others do the same thing. Does that give others a skewed view of our true selves? Probably. Does it serve a purpose to share those darker feelings? Maybe. Probably depends on why you share your darker feelings.

The reality is, my 18 year old daughter ripped my heart out about a year ago, days after she graduated from high school. Recently, I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of prom and posts about senior events and graduation. Those memories will forever be tainted for me, because they feel like a lie (yeah, yeah. I know they weren’t truly a lie. But they FEEL that way). On top of that, we had to have our 13 year old yellow lab put down last month. And now it looks like we’re going to have to have our 14 year old miniature schnauzer put down, likely on Saturday. If, that is, I can bring myself to make the phone call.

So, no, I’ve not been happy. I’m hurting and angry and disappointed and frustrated. But that’s OK. Those feelings are natural, legitimate feelings. We should not be afraid to share them with others, but neither should we let those feelings wrap their tendrils around every aspect of our lives. Do your 500 friends on F/B need to know that you’re feeling a little down today? No. But a quick post to let people know how you’re feeling is OK. Maybe you’ll even get a virtual hug that makes you feel better.

But remember that there is life outside of Facebook.

Acknowledge the feelings.

And then practice a little self-compassion.

 

 

5 Things I Learned In a Job I Hated

Over the winter I was told about a job in North Carolina. I have family there. The climate is pleasant. Beach. Mountains. It was, oh, so tempting.

Except for one small thing.

I love my job. Well, I don’t love my JOB. Much of what I do is monotonous and boring. But I love the people I work with. I love having a nice environment. I love having equipment that works. And occasionally I really do love the work I do. And so, I did not apply for the job in North Carolina. Because what it all boils down to is that finding a job that you love is a very rare and wonderful thing. And I would not know how to truly appreciate my position without having experienced one I hated.

Still, I am thankful for the Job I Hated, because it taught me these things:

  • People Matter. The other support staff in that job supported me and encouraged me. Without them, it would’ve been difficult to face each and every day. Now, I’m fortunate to work with people who sincerely care about one another. Now, I am told on a regular basis that I am appreciated.
  • Tools Matter. Doing your job is difficult enough without trying to “make do.” Computers have to be updated. The way I look at is this: a trucking company doesn’t buy a fleet of trucks and expect them to last forever. They need oil changes, new tires. Same goes for offices. It also helps if you have a chair that isn’t broken.
  • Respect Matters. I am an educated, intelligent person. Being treated as a human being and not a piece of office equipment is always appreciated. I don’t expect anyone to bend down and kiss my feet, but if I question something, it’s because I care, and think I may actually want to do a good job.
  • Environment Matters. I once worked on the 3rd floor of a building with no air conditioning. This was back in the day when women still wore pantyhose every day. I had to ask and convince my boss to let me not wear pantyhose the week it reached over 110° in our office. It’s not a matter of mere comfort. It’s a matter of being able to focus and do the job.
  • Flexibility Matters. My kiddo missed out on stuff because the hubs and I both worked in inflexible jobs. The number of school activities that end at 5 pm baffle me. Why not end at 5:30 so Mom or Dad can get off work & then pick the kid up? The Job I Hated was difficult to leave early. Heck, it was hard to even take vacation without a fight. One year I was told the week before vacation that I really couldn’t be spared. Uh, what? At the Job I Love, I still catch myself justifying why I want to take off. My co-worker told me shortly after I started that I didn’t need to do that. My time off is just that: MY time off. No explanation required.

And that is why I didn’t even explore the possibility of working in a wonderful climate, near family that I love and miss. Because I have a Job I Love, and thanks to the Job I Hated, I appreciate it.