The Isolation Journals, Prompt #102

The prompt this week: Reflect on your earliest awareness of a disconnect between what the world said was okay and what you instinctively felt wasn’t right. How did you react? What action, big or small, did you take? Since then, how have your beliefs changed or stayed the same?

This was difficult for me because my childhood and youth were not ones of activism or seeking social justice at all. Instead, I feel I was always attempting to prove myself and my competence in whatever I did. To be smarter, to throw the ball farther, to be better than the others. I’m not sure why, exactly.  I didn’t come from an activist family, but rather I came from a family in survival mode. Seven children and a father who died too soon. For the most part, I was safe and had enough, but I wasn’t thinking about others. 

One example I noticed pretty early on. The world said it was okay to have people in positions where they weren’t fully qualified and that made me angry and responsive. Even as a child and teen, I noticed among teachers and others in authority. I remember in high school when our creative writing teacher promised we would put together an anthology of our work at the end of the semester. However, there seemed to be no plan to do that or any attempt to collect our work or recruit a team to help or anything. The end of the school year was quickly approaching. I don’t remember the conversation we had, but I must have approached him. However, the result was that I collected the work of my classmates and made the anthology myself, typing all the submissions on ditto masters and printing copies for the whole class using the machines in my business class.

Another example is when I worked full time during the summer after high school. It was a great job working in the nursing administration department of a hospital. I was an assistant to the administrative secretary of the hospital nursing administrator. Everyone was highly competent and I loved the satisfaction and pride this job gave me. (By the way, the job was part of a federal job creation program called CETA. I was eligible because our family’s income was low. That job, which paid minimum wage during the summer,  transitioned into a really high-paying part-time job that put me through college. Looking back, I think that was a CETA success story.) Anyway, at times, some of my hours were spent typing policy and procedure manuals for nursing supervisors of the various units. It was fascinating work. It was in my interactions with those supervisors that I noticed some were much more qualified than others. I remember more than once thinking I didn’t want to type policy and procedure manuals, I wanted to be the supervisor who could come up with effective policies and procedures.

How have my beliefs changed or stayed the same? First of all, by God’s grace and mercy, I have become more understanding of others, more lenient in my judging, and more accepting of others’ imperfections. When I was younger I was ruthless to my teachers and authority figures. Just the ones whom I felt were unworthy of my respect. (Oh, my, it’s embarrassing to admit that! What kind of warped evaluation tool I used to determine competency, though, I have no idea.) Anyway, grace has come to mark my acceptance of others now. I’m not 100%, to be sure, and I have a tendency to call out BS, but maybe I’m better at doing it privately now. An important addition to my thinking is that I have come to notice my own incompetencies and realize that others have to put up with me, as well!

Today is Monday, Day 153 in Bahrain quarantine time, and Prompt #102 in The Isolation Journals by Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO of FEED.