When I was an early teen in high school, I had a somewhat humiliating experience at school that confused me. It wasn’t publicly humiliating – thank goodness, but it was enough to make me slightly wary of saying hi to this person again.
A family friend who was a bit older than me (maybe 5 or 6 years older) whom I had known quite well acted as if he had never known me. I still to this day don’t know if it was intentional or he was just joking around to make me feel awkward.
He was in the courtyard of my high school, talking to his cousin. I walked up to him to say hi and to find out how he was going as it may have been a year since we’d seen each other last. When I said hi, he looked at me blankly as if he had never met me.
“Sorry I don’t know who you are.”
There was silence while I figured out what to say next. I may have then stuttered my parent’s names and how we used to go to the same church. There was no possibility in my mind that he wouldn’t recognise me because we had grown up together through similar church circles, had played in the church orchestra together – there were too many other events where our families had been around each other for him NOT to remember me.
I knew he would definitely remember my parents because he and my dad played a similar instrument and my parents had been his Boys’ Brigade leaders. Yet still there was a half-smile and a cock of the head as if he had no idea who I was. And again repeated ‘sorry,’ with a shrug of his shoulders.
My best friend was standing next to me while the conversation unfolded and she could see the awkwardness. She dragged me away. I was so embarrassed about the encounter. Humiliated even. I explained to her ‘that was so weird. This guy knows me. We’re family friends!’
I didn’t know if he was being an ass and playing a game on me to embarrass me, or whether he had a brain injury that I didn’t know about.
For me, all I remember was the burning sensation of my cheeks with embarrassment and confusion at not being remembered or recognized. I also felt uncomfortable that it had played out in a public area in high school. While not many kids were around, I still felt humiliated. What a loser to say hi to someone who didn’t remember you.
That memory popped up into my mind this week after I hung up on a call that upset me.
It upset me more than I expected because of events leading up to the call.
Last October, you may have remembered I wrote a post about how I needed to change. It was a post that many of you resonated with.
The post was written because I had put up for far too long with something I had the ability to walk away from. But I was hesitant. The circumstances became so dire I made an ultimatum with the business and myself because I just couldn’t keep working with really bad pay conditions.
And so I was in a position where I needed to find something to replace that income. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but knew it would find me… or I would find it.
The solution… or so I thought
I thought I had found what I needed before Christmas. Which was going to be great timing because: Christmas, Back to School Costs, New Laptop for Esther and all of the bills that don’t take a holiday during the holidays. Ha!
I had two interviews, emails, brief calls about the work I would do. It all sounded so promising, but once I had done the work, the communication ceased. Documents that I needed to sign weren’t sent and while I delivered what was discussed, the other party did not. In fact my phone call on Tuesday morning was met with, ‘Sorry, who are you?’
This time, I wasn’t embarrassed. More stunned about the situation and incredulous that I had found yet another dead end, and had possibly been used in the process.
I shared my photo on Tuesday, with my tear streaked face because running a business and being a freelancer is not easy, and there are times when you run a business and it downright sucks and all you can do is cry. While I have tried to not have all my eggs in one basket… when some of those baskets disappear and there are no baskets coming in to replace them… I get a bit anxious.
On Tuesday I realised I had wasted my time and I had been let down. My confidence was low. I’d found another company that didn’t value what I did. It also put me in a tough spot because I’m not sure when or if I will get paid for the work I did in December.
Faith in action
Leading into this year, I have been praying for a better 2018. A year of stability with work. And so far… it’s been a bit uneasy. Yet the words that have been spoken into my life have been to Be Still, Trust God and Rest in Him, because I’ve been a bit like the hamster on the wheel and haven’t got anywhere.
I’m not doing so well on the Be Still part. And the evidence of my trusting could be seen from that teary photo. I have been trusting – but I’ve been trusting in an outcome, not on God. The rest or sleeping is coming easy. Sleep has been my escape because I’ve been exhausted.
But this is what faith is all about. It’s trusting when there is confusion. It’s trusting when it’s painful and upsetting. It’s trusting when things don’t work out (how you think). It’s trusting when things don’t seem fair.
I know I’ve got to confidently hold to the promises in scripture. But I’ve been a bit like Peter walking on the water, and I feel like I’ve been swallowed by the waves.
Your comments encouraged me on Tuesday. They really did. They reminded me that I wasn’t alone – as many of you have cried tears of despair before, and were able to share tips on how to recover from such upsetting calls. I will compile a list into a blog post because there were some great suggestions.
Where to from here
I will continue to plod along with my existing work opportunities. I have a terrible habit of focusing on the bad, and not praising the good. I’ve acquired two new opportunities that excite me and really challenge me – but they haven’t completely replaced what I’m looking for. But I’m grateful and hopeful.
If your 2018 hasn’t quite gone how you expected, know that you’re not alone. A promise of a new year doesn’t equal a promise of a year without problems. Problems build character, resilience and your trust in your creator. And it can be hard, painful and unnerving because you realise while there are some things you can control there are many things that you can’t.
When work is a bit crazy, being still and pausing is the next best move. And have a cry to let out the emotions. (I can say from experience, it helped)
How has 2018 gone for you so far? Had any wins? Ever had someone not recognise you or remember you?