What If You Don’t Want Your Work to Define You?
If you’re a workshop-goer, do you hate that moment at the beginning when you go around the circle and everyone says a few words about themselves?
This is rarely as free and informal a process as it’s intended to be, it’s pretty common for people not to even hear what other people say about themselves as they’re too busy working out what they’re going to say themselves. It can be a bit of a minefield — if in doubt, you tend to say what your work is, maybe how it is that you came to the workshop.
What if you don’t work and don’t wish to explain the fact?
What if you don’t want to be defined by your work? Say, you’re an off-duty therapist at a self-development workshop, hoping to quietly be on the receiving end for a change. What if you have the kind of job that everyone feels obliged to comment on, one that immediately pigeonholes you or causes people to see you first and foremost as, say, the rocket scientist or the cleaner?
It’s easy to feel silently, invisibly paralyzed by the situation — compelled to present yourself right, comparing yourself, not sure what the rules are or how to conform to them.
What if we just turned up in the same place, at the same time, and told each other our names?
There’s a radical anonymity there, a bypassing of the social, an opportunity to just be.
It means you can’t latch on to the bits about people you relate to — whether or not they have kids, for example, or work in a similar field as you, and pay more attention to those people at the expense of others.
What you think is important about yourself may not be. Even if it is, not being allowed to say it may lead to all kinds of other interesting discoveries and connections.
When you’re caught in bubbles of people like you, and many of them not actually physically present but presenting selected parts of themselves in online spaces, it’s possible to forget that there’s something like common humanity.
There’s a tendency now for people to appear in states of heightened emotion and talk about connection a lot, but this is still in a sense a solitary performance to an audience, because the input of the others on the other side of the screen is not felt — interaction comes only in the form of chosen comments and reactions.
The infinitesimal, and often involuntary, communications made with the body when listening to someone, and how they affect the speaker, all this is missing.
It’s these communications between us as we speak that reveal our common humanity as it is (rather than what we project it to be), that enable the unexpected as we end up connecting or disconnecting with unpredictable others, revealing differently… communicating more than we knew we knew.
We’re so much more than what we choose to communicate, and sometimes those are the important bits.
Then there’s the second moment dreaded by many — when everyone hugs at the end — but that’s a story for another day.
Sarah Luczaj (PhD) is a counselor/therapist, Reiki master, writer, poet, originator of the Creative Regeneration process (which brings together meditation, focusing, free-writing and intuitive painting) and co-founder of the terrealuma healing refuge, on a wild and secluded permaculture farm. She facilitates Creative Regeneration in various ways, from live group sessions, through month-long online courses, to 6-month intensive one-to-one activations, to get people plugged back into their natural state of bliss and power. Sarah is mainly based in Glasgow, and has two daughters.