There really were no photos that go with this post, so instead, you get some of my favorite pictures I took in November.
It all started with a conversation at an October Social Saturday. There I sat with some of my close Hutchinson friends (names will be excluded for this blog entry) with a bowl of popcorn sitting in front of me, attempting to tempt me but failing thanks to the October’s New Year’s Resolution theme of Whole 30. Our conversation eventually shifted to brainstorming my November’s theme.
“You should give up shaming people,” one friend said.
“I shame people?” I genuinely asked.
And just like that, the others started pointing out past experiences. The first was the person who originally made the suggestion with his talking about my many failed attempts to get him to stop smoking and my various methods to try to do so. Then another friend added about my going on about how she killed Santa after she brought to an end a non-profit’s annual Christmas breakfast for youngsters to get to see jolly old St. Nick (It is just fun to say, “You killed Santa,” for I agree it was far from the mission of the non-profit and such, and there are tons of places to see Father Christmas). Then another talked about a guilt trip I gave to him an earlier Saturday night that encouraged him to carry his empty glass from our outside beer garden table to the bar to help out our server that night as we were getting to leave. The stories kept coming until I simply asked, “Why do you still want to hang out with me? Seriously?” They expressed their love, but that evening left me with No Shame November (a title given to the theme from the friend who originally threw out the suggestion).
So the month of November was spent with my doing my best not to shame anyone. Honestly, I don’t do it on purpose. As you can probably guess, I have high expectations for myself. Those tied to my dry sense of humor lead to my sometimes saying things that lead to guilt. Usually, I don’t purposely do it. Usually at least.
There were some successes. The one friend received a pass about my saying anything about his smoking. I worked up a blog post about Target’s upcoming departure from Hutchinson; however, it largely was a shamefest about this is what happens when people don’t shop local and rather drive to Wichita to do shopping they could do here in Hutchinson or, more often, turn to Amazon to pick up things they could have picked up at Target, so that post never saw the light of day. Then there were quite a few failures. Here are just a few of them.
November 1 at the Honors Student Council meeting. Some of my students were signing up for events and then either backing out on the last moment or just not showing up. It was a huge problem in my eyes for two events especially, for one was a tour of the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, and the names had to be submitted beforehand for background checks, so those few people not coming wasted time and money by those there. Then another was a trip to a conference where the person backed out a few hours before our early departure for really not a great reason.
What No-Shame Ryan Should Have Said:
Remember to be sure to check your calendars before you sign up for an event. It is important with some of these we have an accurate number.
What Ryan Actually Said:
We have had a problem this year of people signing up for events and then backing out at the last minute. I understand if it is an illness, but for some, the reason for backing out was not good, including with some of you already having previous engagements you should have known about before you even signed up. Like class for an example. Your backing out cost the correctional facility time with the background checks, and if the person backing out on the conference almost at the very last minute so he could work on some homework instead led to the program losing money, and if I would have known about it earlier, I could have changed out the large van for something smaller. Remember always your name is as good as your word, and that should always, always be on the forefront when you sign up for something.
We were on a phone call with my driving to work. My conversation partner was recounting a situation with frustrating people she had told me the night before. I had arrived at the parking lot and was needing to bring the conversation to the close.
What No-Shame Ryan Would Have Said:
I am so sorry you have to put up with that. Well, I have arrived. I hope your day is as good as it can be. Good luck and love you.
What Ryan Actually Said:
After finishing the story for her, she asked, “Did I already tell you this?”
“Yes. Last night when you called. And we had only a limited time to talk this morning, and rather than discussing something positive or something good, the time we had was spent reliving a bad situation again, and now I have arrived at work, and our conversation has to come to a close.”
I paused, “That was probably shaming, wasn’t it?”
She answered, “It was indeed.”
A text message conversation was taking place with a buddy wanting me to drive and visit him. He threw out a passive aggressive guilt trip about my never making the time to grab dinner with him.
What No-Shame Ryan Would Have Said:
Don’t worry. My schedule is a little packed right now, but we will get something worked out over winter break.
What Ryan Actually Said/Texted:
Ryan: Do you even have a clue what has been going on in my life with all of my responsibilities?
His reply: That came out wrong. I know you are busy. I have seen some on Facebook and Instagram.
Ryan: But you don’t ask questions really. Or try to pursue any more about my world.
His reply: I am so sorry that came out so badly. I figured you were really busy and would share if you wanted to.
Ryan: But rather than ask questions, we talked all about your life. Which the assumption that you had makes it seem like you don’t care.
His reply: You always seemed like you would rather leave your life alone. I guess i missed read it. I am very interested in whats been happening in your life. Thats why i look at your fb and instagram.
Ryan’s Major Rant/Shaming: Simply looking at those don’t count. Truly taking an interest would be asking questions to find out more. If you go back and look at our conversations, the majority of the times the focus is on your world. And you do have a lot going on. There is no doubt about that. Now though I need to get to work, but I will catch you later. And sorry by the way. I am working well over 40 hours a week while also taking grad classes for my PhD while also trying to live up to my commitments here while also trying to tackle some personal projects that continue to be thrown to the back burner while also trying to financially survive. But we will get together over winter break. That I promise.
And the situations could continue. Sure, there were times that I should have held my tongue, but November’s month’s theme was much harder than anything before, and it will be something I will need to work on. Even this weekend, I fell to shaming again when someone asked if the bar where Social Saturday takes place takes cards. My answer was that it does, but given it is a local business, he should really grab some cash so the hard-working owner could keep all of the money from his purchases rather than have a percentage go to the credit card company. Guilt instantly came across his face. I added afterwards that she would gladly take a card, for any purchase is better than no purchase; however, the shaming had already happened.
With that said, I did my best to hide my thoughts and great hurt about something else that occurred this weekend, which could have turned into a huge shaming of sorts with guilt likely being felt by the parties involved. Instead, I sat there, as stoic as I could be while trying my best to hold on to Don Miguel Ruiz’s second agreement about not taking things personally (The Four Agreements is a fantastic book by the way for those who have not read it). All of the words that wanted to be said were held back, for the action had already been taken. I just kept thinking perhaps my previous shaming of others had led to that moment right then. That, though, is a story for a time that will never be told, for as I had mentioned to the person in Situation II, we only have a limited time when it comes down to it, and that time we spend should be focused on the good rather than dwelling on the wounds from the past. Rather, we should learn from them and forge ahead with the knowledge gained, and rather than shame, that is what I will do.
When it comes to my problem with shaming others though, where things go from here are up in the air. Ever since that conversation in October, the shaming of others has been a topic on my mind, and No Shame November made it even more apparent. Looking now at this post, I realize it is even a public shaming of myself in a way for my failures with this adventure, but the first step is to admit the problem, right? And that is what is going on now. Now the question is how things will go with that next step. Only time will tell on that one. Needless to say, this month’s theme of sketching on a regular basis has been a cakewalk compared to November.