People as people

I adore challenges. Usually, however, I take too many on at any given time, and then I over-commit myself to groups or projects, and then become distressed later on to find that each needs things from me. Then I become demand-resistant about everything (demand-resistant is a truly exceptional way to describe me, most of the time, and its concept comes from one of my favorite blogs, “The Happiness Project”).
I get too excited about too many things at once, and typically I am passionate about very few things– however, those few things, when they come to meet me, are all-encompassing. I love it, but I am unrealistic about the hours in a day.
One challenge that is inviting and also does not take any extra time or energy, other than the mental energy it requires, is to see people as humans before anything else. Ironically, I feel I have no trouble doing this with my patients and clients. I honestly do try my hardest to view them as people, with fantastic, phenomenal histories, before people with a disability or disease. However, with other people, people I do not treat in music therapy, I have the hardest time seeing in any other way than being identified as a group member in which I meet them. For instance, I went to church this morning and someone sitting in front of us introduced herself to my boyfriend and me following the service. The first thing I thought was, “Oh man, she’s going to try to convert me or preach to me or something along those lines…” Granted, I have had a tumultuous relationship with religion, and the majority of people I come to know as being church-goers usually make me hesitant to trust that they will let me think as I may about religion and the church. But I should have recognized this sometimes-irrational prediction, and given her a chance before making that judgment. (As it turns out, I did leave our conversation thinking that she was on the other end of the spectrum as me.) I challenged myself in going to the basement for a brunch the church was giving. Almost always I leave immediately, but I wanted to see if I could connect with people I find, frankly, threatening. My boyfriend and I sat at a table with a family we didn’t know, and, per usual, I sat back, absorbed and considered the people around me. They all talked about church, of course, which is exactly what usually lends itself well to silence on my end; if I don’t know someone, and if they’re talking about something about which I know very little, I’ll let them talk it out until there is something to which I can relate. Sometimes the part about finding something to which I relate doesn’t happen, and instead of putting in my work and exploring a different topic, I just pout and let it lie. (I know, how infantile, but people exhaust me.) This morning, I didn’t. Even though they talked about church, and though I initially had little to say, I figured out something that could engage them and integrate myself into the conversation.
So hard. I wonder why I feel so differently about my patients and clients than I do anyone else.

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