The look of horror and shock on his face almost made me stop talking but I didn’t. That was because it was more important for him to hear what I had to say than to let his version of reality remain untainted.
“Dad, why would they do it and how could they say you are weird. Everyone is weird.”
I think my son was around eight or maybe he was ten when we had this conversation but the truth is I don’t remember. The real date might already have been immortalized in a blog post here but since I can’t remember it doesn’t really help.
That is the challenge of having written almost 10,000 posts, all the important stuff is mixed up with the narishkeit you have already posted.
I don’t remember what prompted the conversation but I remember telling him that I had been fired more than once and that some people thought I was weird.
It bothered him because he thought I was superman and among the coolest men anywhere. I appreciated that and part of me liked having him think of me that way but I thought circumstances called for reality.
Circumstances Called For Reality
One of the hardest things in my life has been my proclivity to compare my professional life with my father’s. The man worked for one company his entire life.
He started at the bottom and then worked his way up the ladder. I remember celebrating some of the promotions with our family and the pride I felt in my father.
Dad didn’t brag about these things. If I knew about them it was generally because someone else mentioned them. All he said was that if you worked hard and did a good job we could do it too.
I believed that…for years and then experience made me question it.
Because after I had some real life work experience I saw the rules weren’t always applied evenly and that some people got away with crap that others couldn’t. It felt like some people could do whatever they wanted and there were no consequences.
I could tell you the stories about why I was let go and I can promise that many of you will nod your heads in sympathy because I was collateral damage in a pissing contest between partners.
Another time I was replaced by someone who made 30 percent less than I did.
Two other situations were created by mergers and acquisitions in which my job was moved or absorbed by someone else.
Technically I could have offered explanations to my son about these moments because they weren’t really my fault but I didn’t want to teach him how to make a clock when all he needed to know was what time it was.
But the biggest part was my not wanting him to feel like he was trying to match a standard that always seemed out of reach.
An Ordinary Man
I didn’t realize my father was an ordinary man until he had a major heart attack and I hopped on a plane not knowing whether he would be dead or alive when I landed.
It sounds kind of silly to say that, especially since I was 35 but it is true. It is also true that his words about hard work and being accountable for our actions have stayed with me.
Because any time something happened to my position I heard his voice inside my head and wondered what I did or didn’t do to contribute to being in this position.
It was hard not to look back and wonder what I could have done better to make myself invaluable. It was only after deep thought and time that I was able to accept sometimes things happen and we aren’t responsible.
I didn’t cause the merger or make the company close my office to move it to a different state. It wasn’t always me.
That realization did wonders for me but I felt an obligation to try to help my son avoid walking the same path I had.
Do People Think You Are Weird?
I told him that some people think I am weird and that I have been called many other names too. Heard these things my entire life in large part because I have never been afraid to stand out.
If I had something to say I usually said it and as I have grown older I have become far more bolder about it all.
He asked me if I worried about it and I said only sometimes. That is because there is a very small group of people whose opinions matter to me.
But I explained there have been moments where I have wondered if some of my social media activity could bite me in the ass because it might not always be understood or interpreted as I want it to be.
Sometimes I tweet things or write stuff on Facebook that I think is funny but people might not agree.
When he asked me if that meant I would be more careful about what I posted I said I think I might be and sometimes it makes me sad.
Because I am happiest when I just write with reckless abandon. Let those who like me do so for all of me and not just the self censored stuff because that is not me.
I told him I wanted my children to be themselves and to remember that being different than others doesn’t always mean you are weird it just means you are different.
And that is ok.
What about you? Do people think you are weird?