I’m so uncomfortable everywhere I go. A lot of my discomfort seems to be the need to warm back up into being a real person. There’s a certain way to act at a job which is actually easier than being in the real world. Everything at work is very scripted for us. The answers to “Do you want to / Would you please / Can you help me out / Will you take the time to …” are all automatic responses crafted due to the relationship with the colleague whom asked the question. This is much easier than reality. Reality puts people on a level playing field.
For example, saying “no” to a colleague is easier because that “no” comes from a place of work culture. I am allowed to say “no” because I am perhaps their boss or I have some kind of seniority which puts me in a position to logically be unable to assist. Generally, I have permission from a pretend hierarchy within a pretend organization to act a certain way, carte blanche.
Until recent years I’ve had very limited personal interaction with the real world. My world was my own and nobody was involved unless I allowed it, like a boss. I did not have local friends asking local favors. I did not have a husband or a wife to consider and was singularly in control of everything I did in my free time, my reality. I could not own a pet animal because they would demand of me food in their bowls and regularly petting. I built a world all my own to meet my demands and escape those of others.
Telling a person “no” in the real world is nothing like telling this to a person in work culture. There are no rules in the real world, or at least there are not supposed to be any rules. When I find myself out there with people I am initially awkward because I am still operating under professional standards.
Perhaps this is best explained by defining what “yes” or “no” actually means in reality. These responses are the result of our actual desires and for me this feels a bit harsh. In the professional world “yes” or “no” are actual fakes. Professionally we are all frauds. I am not cooperating because I want to but because the professional hierarchy tells me if I can or cannot. As most of us should agree we are all at work against our will doing things we would rather not do. If you asked a person if they really wanted to go to work at 7 AM every morning and they were allowed to be honest, the answer would often be “no.” But since we are trapped within a societal requirement in exchange for money the answer is usually “yes.”
Therefore when I find myself finally free from the chains of corporate bondage I am at a loss for words. It takes me days worth of being around real people with real hopes and dreams to remind me that I can now truly speak my mind and make honest choices. It’s learning to walk again after a violent tragedy. Corporate America is a cannibalistic violent tragedy. I think most people sum this up as Social Anxiety. They actually fear the freedom they suddenly feel when left outside of the structure. I do not feel anxious. I just feel confused.
It’s about the true meaning of answering a question. Your friends ask, “How are you?” Your answer is staggered because you have been in the Thunderdome for so long you aren’t sure what your true answer really is. Because your co-workers, colleagues, associates, managers, bosses, and political fuck buddies have asked, “How are you?” all week and you’ve responded with an earnest smile, “I’m great! How are you!?” Because that’s how it’s done in the Thunderdome. That’s the script given from the classes you’ve attended.
What’s worse and really tips this over the edge is that people in professional circumstances actually believe it. They really think you want to be there. They honestly think you’re doing great. They truly believe you like them as a person and want to attend Happy Hour after professionally slaving away for nine hours alongside of them. They believe it, so you believe it and pretty soon it’s the most fake circle jerk you’ve ever involved yourself in.
When becoming free of those chains I am left with a curious wonder about how I am. How am I? How am I really? Well, I do not know because I then realize I’ve been answering myself with the same cheery script. I’m in the circle jerk. I have become my own colleague. So, how am I really, for real? I don’t know. I do not know! It takes days to know. To wake up from the coma of this planet’s customer service epidemic. I’m great. I’m good. I’m well. I am in a rage. I am angry. How are you?
It’s that emotional explosion that happens when you finally cry. To weep if you are not a person who weeps. It’s that thing that happens when you relax and watch a sad movie. That thing when you are really into it and are overtaken with true emotion from this touching film. That moment where there are tears on your face and you are whaling with sound, but you are still disconnected. There is nothing but a feeling of mon capitaine in your head as if he or she was a disconnected observer. Who is crying? Who is whaling with this screaming sad rage? T’is not I. T’is the body I inhabit. I am fine. “I’m great! How are you?!”
To tell a person “no” in reality actually holds water. It actually means “no.” That’s a “no” from me, the real me, the person I think I am. No, I do not want to do that. No, I actually do not want to. And that is strong. That is unscripted. Maybe this is why rapists think “no” means “yes,” because in corporate America it actually does!
To actually say it and mean it is so out of style. To not say it because it’s what people say or do. That is an individual making a decision whether it’s in response to grabbing a cheeseburger with a friend or helping them load the U-Haul van for their move. That is a decision! That is terrifying because it means truth between human beings!
Whether it is “yes” or “no” it is sharing truth and we are not as used to that as we used to be. It’s rather ironic that we seem to live in a world that is more rude today than ever before. You’d think more people told the truth and hurt those feelings more now than ever. At the same time it doesn’t. It feels more fake now than ever. Perhaps because it’s all very black and white. There is less room for gray in a world which demands more gray by law. There are 58 gender options on Facebook and people are more unhappy with their labels than ever before. We are either too honest or too fake. The customer service is not earnest. It never quite was, but it is less now than ever before. It’s just a script. It’s just brainwashing.
How are you? I don’t fucking know. Do you really care? Let’s go get a coffee and talk it over. Let’s run off under the waterfall to make real decisions with each other. Let’s decide if we really want to get a cheeseburger or let’s be big about it if one of us honestly hates cheeseburgers. Love me for my erratic emotional behavior and enjoy the unscripted mind. Let’s shake ourselves out of the scripted choke hold and remember what “yes” and “no” really mean.