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Odd Jobs April 24, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

How much time and energy do we expend in the course of a given day, week, month, year (or lifetime!) devoted to the never-ending task of trying to encapsulate our essence into a nutshell so we can regurgitate “our story” to others?

Who assigned that odious “odd job” to us?

How old would I be if I subtracted from my current age all the time I’ve wasted trying to get them to get me?

We tend to think that we must share “our story” with others . . . so they can understand “where we are coming from.”

Why?  Do we owe them an explanation for our existence?  Of course not.

Trying to explain who we are (or, rather, who we have been at various points in the past) is a bit like chasing individual droplets of water over the dam.  Our “reputation” is a figment of the imagination.

In truth, we have as many reputations as acquaintances and NONE is accurate.

What purpose does sharing “snapshots” of our life serve?

Even if we spent ALL DAY, EVERY DAY trying to explain who we are to others, they still wouldn’t be able to step into our shoes to see the world from OUR perspective.

Not even if they scratched their heads in perplexity for perpetuity.

The impressions others hold of us have  more to do with who they are than with who we are.

So, why do we bother?

It is not their job to understand us . . . that’s our job.

We are the only expert on our life because we are the only one who has walked in our shoes.

They (no matter who “they” are) do not have enough perspective to evaluate OUR actions.

So why do we care what THEY think of us?

What THEY think of us is none of our business.

Of course, the converse is true too:  We cannot effectively evaluate the actions of others using our life experiences and preferences.

Anytime we catch ourselves thinking, “Wow! If I were X, I would NEVER do that!” . . . we need to step firmly back into OUR shoes.

Just be.   And you’ll soon see . . .

The world keeps revolving on its axis even after we stop monitoring its every movement.

Go ahead . . .

Cross that Odd Job off your To Do List today.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  My Life in 250 Words * What Makes You, You? * Sidey’s Weekend Theme ~ Odd Jobs


1. Richard W Scott - April 24, 2012

I’m not sure (in my case, anyway) that spending time to try to get people to “get me” would help. I don’t “get me” all that well. )

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

That’s exactly where I’m at today, Rik.

I spent an inordinate amount of time yesterday “explaining myself” to others. Time that could have been far better spent on other projects and priorities . . . including understanding myself (and my underlying motivations) a bit better.

This morning, I took a GIANT step back to regain perspective on who I am and who I want to be.

2. suzicate - April 24, 2012

Just as the world is ever changing so are we. I had someone once ask me in disgust, “why do you guys always get big dogs?” I didn’t feel I owed her anymore of an explanation than she owed me because she has cats. Still, I felt the need to answer and replied because that’s what we like. Maybe, I should have just given her a strange look…ok, I know I already have that strange look about me!

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Yes! Perfect example, Suzi. And perfect response . . . “Just Because.”

Seek first to understand (yourself) and then to be understood.

3. SidevieW - April 24, 2012

Maybe we want approval?

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Exactly! When we approve of decisions and choices we have made, we rarely waste time seeking external approval from others. We don’t need their “rubber stamp.”

In contrast, when we do not approve of our thoughts, words, and deeds, we tend to look around for someone who would have done “the same thing” . . . if they were in our shoes.

But they aren’t in our shoes, so their opinion is of no great weight.

Whenever we are seeking approval from others, we need to take a long hard look at our internal motivation for doing so. Often, we will find an inner conflict we alone must resolve.

SidevieW - April 24, 2012

yes, when you are confident of yourself and making the right choices for your life you don’t need the external approval

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

When I’m comfortable with a choice (e.g., being a vegetarian), I never feel compelled to defend that choice by getting defensive.

When I am NOT comfortable with a choice I’ve made or plan to make . . . I find myself looking around for others to nod in agreement or approval. Time that might be better spent getting a bit more “educated” about my options.

4. sufilight - April 24, 2012

Good points! I gave up trying to explain myself years ago and it was with my last relationship. We are all who we are, and what others think of me is none of my business because we all see as you suggested from our perspective/filters.

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Good for you, Marie.

BFF and I talked about this issue today. Most of the time, he understands where I’m coming from . . . that’s good because many of my decisions concern us both.

In contrast, a neighbor across the street (or a stranger on the street) who doesn’t understand me is less of an issue because the vast majority of my thoughts, words, and deeds will not impact them at all.

Likewise, I need not concern myself with any decision by any one else that doesn’t impact DIRECTLY.

Our life decisions are our business, which need not be put up for a vote. 😀

5. kateshrewsday - April 24, 2012

Seeking approval: a dead end 😉

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Yup . . .
“Turn around . . . you’re going the wrong way!” 😀

6. Piglet in Portugal - April 24, 2012

Do I care what people think of me? Yes, because I live by certain values. Can I change their opinion, it depends on how it was formed.

People seek approval for their actions. For example a close friend has just left her husband and returned to England. Did I approve, No, but it was her business not mine. I still supported her while trying not to judge and stayed neutral.

Well, I’m off to France now so see you all in a few days 🙂

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Have a FUN time in France, PiP!

I live by certain values too . . . for example, NOT eating animals. But it makes absolutely no difference to me whether others agree with that choice, or not.

My diet = my business. 😎

7. loubyjo - April 24, 2012

I spend alot of time alone which i am quite happy to do as some people are quite happy being busy but why do either have to expalin to the other why we live that way

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Yes! Exactly. Lots of people on the street enjoy getting together for potlucks twice a month. Sometimes we join them. Sometimes we don’t.

Several neighbors feel that we SHOULD attend ALL social gatherings on the street ~ we feel they should let us mind our own business. 😉

8. barb19 - April 24, 2012

Great post Nancy!
We are forever changing – our views and opinions are not static and we shouldn’t expect it of others either. Live and let live – just be the person we are – unique!

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Exactly! If I spend an hour (or more) explaining to someone else why I made a certain decision . . . what happens when I change that decision? Should I send out an APB (All Points Bulletin) to keep them up to date? 😉

Consistency is over-rated ~ we like to be able to predict what others are going to do. As soon as we let go of the need to know . . . we can go with the flow.

Aah . . . that’s better!

barb19 - April 24, 2012

Feels good, doesn’t it?

nrhatch - April 24, 2012


9. aawwa - April 24, 2012

So beautifully put! Thanks

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Thanks, Lorraine. Here’s to being WHO we are! 😀

10. Andra Watkins - April 24, 2012

I just write because it seems I can’t stop myself. That I do it in public means a few people read it. However they take it is how they take it. I can’t care about that, or it would cause me to pause when I write.

I wish more people were genuine. But, people can tell the difference.

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

I enjoy people who are genuine . . . rather than those switching masks based on their best guess of who/how I want them to be.

So glad that your move is almost behind you. Hope you love your new place and will share more pics with us. Loved the look of your new home office.

Andra Watkins - April 24, 2012

It’s funny that I’ve read several bloggers recently who ‘bemoan’ how popular their blogs have become because they can’t write what they want. I’m like, WHY NOT? Be who you are. It’s so much better than the alternative.

We close on the old house tomorrow. It feels like a big exhale. Almost there.

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Oh, that is so exciting! We closed on our last house (sale) on Valentine’s Day 2009.

A big exhale is right . . . aah!

My “tagline” when I started SLTW was “No Rules. Just Write.” It’s my guiding light. If I want to sing out . . . I sing out. Anyone who isn’t interested can “tune out.” 😀

11. jannatwrites - April 24, 2012

I don’t get out much, so I don’t do a lot of explaining 🙂 The one I encounter most is about work – where do I work? What do I do? etc. I feel like what they really want to know is how much I make! (Enough to pay the bills.)

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Sometimes it’s just “polite banter” to find common ground . . . that’s fine with me. How else would we get to know one another enough to become friends?

Other times, though, it’s a “cross examination” to find some way to rule “for or against” us . . . or, as you’ve noted, to find out how much we make. Nosy Parkers! 😉

12. Perfecting Motherhood - April 24, 2012

Good points. Why are so many of us focused on looking back rather than forward?

One thing that bugs me in America is what people ask you within a few minutes of meeting you. “What do you do?” As if your job defines you, your personality, your views of the world… It irks me every time because there are so many things we do every day and our job is just one of those things.

In public settings, that question makes sense though, because people usually have to spend a few minutes for other people to understand what their job entitles, so it’s perfect for small talk. But I wish people used other questions to discover the other person, such as sunrise or sunset? Favorite food, music, movie, book? What do you do if your pastime? Anything that shows you really want to know the person’s own interests.

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Those are such good questions . . . so much more interesting that the standard, “So . . . what do you do?”

Next time I’m at one of those inane cocktail parties, I’m going to make a point to ask more “telling” questions:

* What did you do on the BEST day of your life?
* What’s one thing you’ve never done that you want to try?
* If you only had one year left to live . . . where would you go and what would you do?
* Etc.

Then, when they all run away from the crazy lady in the corner, I’ll be able to drink in peace! 😛

Perfecting Motherhood - April 24, 2012

I can soooooo imagine people being caught off guard with any questions off the boring chart. And yet, wouldn’t these make for great conversation starters?

bluebee - April 25, 2012

Oh, Nancy, your comment here really made me laugh – you never know, you might just find yourself the person at the party that everyone wants to converse with!!

nrhatch - April 25, 2012

@PM ~ Most “small talk” is a waste of time. These types of questions might really generate conversations worth having.

@BB ~ Glad you got a chuckle out of it! I do sometimes ask these types of questions of my nieces and nephews . . . but seldom with casual acquaintances.

That may change . . . starting NOW! 😆

13. Patricia Caviglia - April 24, 2012

Great post! I do a lot of explaining and I don’t know why I feel that I need to. I’m working on it because actions speak louder than words.

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

This morning, I took a GIANT step back from a few LONG conversations I had yesterday and asked myself, “What was THAT all about?”

With just a bit of self-examination, I realized I was seeking EXTERNAL approval because INTERNAL approval had not been granted/attained.

14. Team Oyeniyi - April 24, 2012

Another of my favourite “we are individuals” articles! I do not have to fit anyone’s definition of who I should be!!!

nrhatch - April 24, 2012

Thanks, Robyn. When we know WHO we are, we know HOW to live . . . without seeking external approval and accolades for past, present, or future actions.

We know we are ENOUGH . . . as is!

15. Booksphotographsandartwork - April 25, 2012

Very interesting reading all of the comments on this subject.

nrhatch - April 25, 2012

I do wonder how much of my life I have wasted . . . engaged in futile conversation.

16. sweetdaysundertheoaks - April 25, 2012

I just follow my heart, it almost always gets me where I need to be. I don’t HAVE to explain nothing to nobody anymore but sometimes I feel the need. Fingers still crossed today for Tigger and you and BFF.

nrhatch - April 25, 2012

That’s what we’re doing with Tigger at the moment . . . following our hearts.

Got several *WINKS* from the Universe yesterday . . . so I think we are on the right path again. 😎

sweetdaysundertheoaks - April 25, 2012

Happy news Nancy!

nrhatch - April 25, 2012

He’s eating well, drinking well, eliminating well, and his fever is definitely dissipating. And . . . he didn’t throw up today! Yay!

And he loves one of the low carb canned foods we bought him. Double Yay!

Vet tomorrow at 1:30. Fingers (and paws!) still crossed.

17. Pocket Perspectives - April 25, 2012

Go tigger! such hopeful news!
Keep in mind that vets are often giving opinions…a vet recommended things that we didn’t do…and our dog continued to live many more years after we didn’t do what was suggested. We never went back to that vet…changed his name…the vet’s…to Dr. K….
And, go Nancy too…your exuberance about those useless odd jobs and unneccessary convesations really brought a chuckle here…..

nrhatch - April 25, 2012

Thanks, Kathy! We are cautiously optimistic that we’ll have a better vet visit tomorrow than we had on Saturday. We like this vet quite a bit . . . he’s very caring and compassionate.

And thanks for your thoughts on this post too. Ever since writing it yesterday (when I was “running on empty”), I’ve wanted to smooth off a few rough edges. I finally got around to moving things around a bit to improve the flow.

As I am often wont to say: Aah . . . that’s better! 😀

18. Three Well Beings - April 26, 2012

I really appreciate the way you’ve said this…and oh, if only I could get that time back! I have spent a lot of time, way too much time, thinking that I just wasn’t clear. I “tell the story” one way, don’t get the reaction I hoped for and say it again another way…once I moved away from this habit, and I guess I’m still shedding it to some extent, I feel lighter and you’re right…I really do have more time. Or at least more head space! 🙂 You really nailed it! Debra

nrhatch - April 26, 2012

Thanks, Debra. Some people will NEVER get where we are coming from. That’s OK. They don’t need to understand why we choose to do what we do. 😀

19. William D'Andrea - April 26, 2012

Personally, people never ask me to “explain myself”. It could be that when I do express my thoughts, I’m very clear, and what I’ve said needs no further explanation. Nobody ever asks me “What’s your story?” It could be that I’m just a very dull guy.

As for me telling my story? In the past six years that I’ve been on the internet, I have written and posted many stories; more than 25 on fanfiction.net and I have 26 projects on webook.com. Along with two published novels. There are also all those entries I made in the WTF? project when it was on webook, and now on facebook. I suppose I could say that those projects and entries are “My story”; and there’s more of it to come.

However, it would be very helpful for me to continue telling my newest story, if I could get some feedback on “The Aztec Redemption” which is posted on webook.com, under my penname MrBillyD
Thank you.

nrhatch - April 26, 2012

Good luck with The Aztec Redemption, MrBillyD. I hope you find some writers/readers to provide you with feedback. I no longer provide feedback on Works In Progress ~ especially fiction.

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