It’s such a simple truth, and yet so often forgotten. We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
Our own journey, context, beliefs, values, desires, and dreams are collectively a rather nebulous filter through which to view the world. Yet that’s how it must be, for each of us. Stumbling along, assuming everyone’s experiences are, if not the same, similar enough to our own that of course we all understand each other perfectly. How could we not? When in reality, how could we ever?
We see this underscored every day on the world stage, whether demonstrated in tragedy or politics, how different we can be, how different our views, how strange things seem from thousands of miles away.
But it’s the every day differences, the smallest minutiae, that can seem almost startling.
I had a conversation recently with someone I hadn’t seen in a while, who expressed their surprise to learn that I was still working for myself. Or, as they put it, that I hadn’t “found a job yet”.
Oh. Was I supposed to be looking?
I haven’t been employed by anyone other than myself in over 12 years. It’s been so long since I’ve been an employee I’m honestly not sure I’d know how to play the part.
Yet for the person with whom I was speaking, being an employee of someone else wasn’t just a personal choice for them, it was seemingly the only choice for everyone.
Just as I can’t imagine ever again playing the part of servant to another master, she couldn’t imagine not doing so. We’re the same age, living in the same city, working in the same industry and yet…worlds apart.
I work, but I don’t have a job. I don’t want a job.
I generate income, but I don’t have a paycheck. I don’t want a paycheck.
Some people do want these things. This is what my recent conversation reminded me. Not everyone feels the same way I do about working for someone else, helping build someone else’s dreams. I’m selfish. I like to work on my own dreams. Not everyone is as selfish as I am.
Some people are genuinely happy to be an employee, to be part of a larger something.
Others, like me, are happiest to only work on their own something. Whether big or small, as long as it’s theirs.
And then there are those who want one thing, but settle for another. Caught in the in-between. Stuck there forever, likely, unless they find the courage to un-stick themselves. They work every day, doing something they hate, believing this is the only option they have.
Because they don’t see things as they are.