Peeved. A polite way of expressing annoyance. Working with children and adults I am privy to a lot of stories, and am stunned to realize that in spite of Toronto, Canada, being multi-ethnic and a hub for business professionals from all parts of the globe, some are still being told to ” remove education, experience, background and personal, practical knowledge” from their job applications. And it is not only emigrants who experience this; mothers returning to the work force too find well meaning (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt) counselors offering equally crippling advice.
We own our past, and through story not only keep hope and love and other positive emotions alive, but also allow others to recognize us as whole human beings. Asking people to deny their positive self, to ignore or remove the training or experiences of which they are proud is equal to asking people to shut down a whole portion of themselves. It is demoralizing and inhumane. When anyone obliterates a portion of his or her self in order to appease others, it is really a form of succumbing to bullying.
This isn’t about the oft quoted “cab driver with a PHD” – no- it is about “ordinary people”, feeling disenfranchised and confused by the commonly given and rarely verified suggestion that they “dummy it down”. WHY? That isn’t a rhetorical question. When a workforce is frightened of “over qualified” then the workforce is frightened, period. We take kids in preschool and kindergarten and encourage them to share, give them mixed messages by High School about standing out from the crowd and growing into themselves, all the while admonishing the ones who may, in fact, take chances as they grow, and then need to remind them that it IS ok to brag a little when they are applying for jobs and Universities- and toss around words like empower and self esteem- but- , educators and parents alike now marvel at the way the pendulum has swung: from “failure is not an option”, all the way to ” we must teach them to embrace (?) failure” ! Hey!- There are things and people that I want to hug- failure is not one of them; accepting that a situation did not turn out as hoped and yes, trying again, is very different from embracing failure. For to me, embracing failure denies the option of trying again. And again. And again.
And that is why we need our stories, our past, our sense of place. To remember that life moves in waves, that surfing may be fun but it is also both difficult and challenging, and that while who we are at any present moment is not solely determined by our past, our past needn’t scare others from participating with us in our future. Yes, I’m using the “royal we” old school style, ’cause when I send this out there, into cyber-space, I am hoping that the message reverberates, causing more than a splash, and encouraging others to move away from proscribed notions of how things are “supposed to be” and refocus on how they are, whom we are meeting, and how we could, indeed, actually help one another.