I feel strangely compelled to write something but I’ve got three little themes competing for attention. We’ll see where this goes.
I’ve been thinking about how much my life has changed since I’ve been on Facebook. (How’s that for an opening?) For the longest time, I partitioned my life pretty carefully. At work, I assumed one role and I chose to keep most people at arm’s length so I would only divulge things to a select few. I kept my dancing a total secret for many years. Of course, a large part of that was the body image issue since I was very overweight and just figured everyone would laugh at the image of me on a dance floor.
The first account I created was for my dog. And I only did that because there was a particular thing I was following and you had to have a Facebook account to see the page, so I created one for my dog. He didn’t post much, because, well, he is a dog and typing is a bit of a problem.
Since it turned out not to be too creepy, I eventually took the plunge and created my own page. Very shortly after doing so, I reconnected with a good friend from my high school/college days who I hadn’t seen or heard from in about six years. The ability to reconnect with old friends was an instant draw. Then, I started getting hits from people at work and family and some of my dance friends. At some point, worlds collided and I was outed by a post from the studio that tagged me before I knew how to turn that feature off.
That turned out to be liberating. Rather than hiding the fact that I danced, I embraced it. And it grew beyond that. I’ve discovered that I want to have connections with people. I may be an introvert but I’m not a recluse. But, being an introvert just makes it harder for me to form that bond because I’m still reluctant to share personal information. And there is also the fact that I tend to take on certain roles in the different places in my live. At work, I’m one person. I could be freer at the studio. Around family, there was another person. There’s a lot of commonality but I still found myself limiting how much I would share.
What I found with Facebook is that I could share the little details of my life and sometimes with my own style (quirky?) that you get a taste of here. In that way, Facebook becomes my vehicle for small talk which I just can’t stand. If I want people to know that I love the State Fair, I just post a picture or two of us at the Fair. It also creates opportunities for my Facebook friends to share experiences. Oh, I went to the Fair on Thursday. Yeah, what did you do/see/eat? And, by doing so, I can show each group that I’m more than perhaps what they see of me in person.
And it works the other way as well. You don’t have to ask an old friend “what’s new?” because, if they are an active poster, you’ll know. It is strange but, even without actually seeing or talking with them, I feel more bonded to my friends who are active.
I’ve friends with some of the people who work for me. I know this is a somewhat controversial thing and I’ve handled it by leaving it up to people to friend me. I’ve never sent a request to anyone who works for me. Yeah, there are certainly risks of blurring the lines which I get but there are strong positives. Boss/employee is not all we are. Everyone is a human with life outside of work and with issues and problems and things they love and are passionate about. The use of Facebook allows each of us to see the other as a person and not just the boss. One of the leadership expectations we are hit with is that as a “leader”, you should take a genuine interest in the people who work for you. Well, seeing them as people with lives outside the office is the first step. In that sense, I do believe Facebook has helped create better bonds and I think it has helped. I see more upside than downside.
To give you an example, last night at the studio, the part had a theme of rebellion since OwnerGuy and Z were out so the bosses were gone and the inmates were running things so it seemed like a natural them. I think Kid T just came up with it because it gave her an opportunity to wear what she normally wears outside the studio. She’s definitely got a unique style. But she brought in some temporary tattoos and we all played along because a temporary tattoo is perfect for wannabe rebels. Tats are actually relatively mainstream among the young now. I mean the new instructor has one and she’s hardly the type of person you’d expect to be inked. But, they weren’t as common back in the day so we all jumped at the opportunity to have a little fun. I couldn’t resist taking a picture and posting it on Facebook. I wasn’t really thinking of the deeper meaning but it just seemed like fun and it is something they wouldn’t expect me to do.
And Facebook was the gateway to this blog. If Facebook is for small talk, this is where I get to go deep into my mind and dump out feelings and other things that I don’t feel comfortable sharing with people I know.
But maybe all of this sharing had made it easier for me to say things when I need to. Case in point was today. I had an employee suggest that I schedule one on one sessions with everyone. I didn’t want to do that because I have them with my boss and they are worthless, but I decided it was a good idea so I finally started doing them a year or so ago. Today, I had one with one of my younger staff members. Without going into a lot of detail, I’ve got two groups reporting to me. In the group she’s in, I’ve got lots of talented people but they don’t have a lot of opportunities to interact with others outside the group even though they are capable. Well, I decided to give her a “growth opportunity” and an chance to present some of her work to a wider audience. I’ve tended to do that by default but I need to change that. I could tell right away that she was on that border where you really want to take the chance but you’re afraid of what might happen. Now, I presented it as a choice and if she had really shown total reluctance, I would have backed off but I could see it was intriguing so I keep gently pushing. Eventually I got around to saying what I needed to say all along which is (a) I wouldn’t have asked her if I didn’t think she could do it and (b) I would be there as a safety net and I wouldn’t leave up there all alone if questions came up that she wasn’t ready for. Or in other words, I had her back. These are certainly things that I felt and believed and sometimes you just assume that people know that but sometimes they really need to hear it.
Which brings me back to dancing since most things do. We were working on Waltz last night and we do a develope and we spent a lot of time working on that. It looks simple but to do it right, I have to remember to keep standing up because if I lean forward with her, we’ll tumble over. She told me to get all my weight on the front foot but keep the back toe on the group for balance. Then, I can extend but what I found I was doing was instinctively tightening up because she was falling and I needed to catch her. But that’s the wrong reaction because it limits what she can do. So I have to get into the right position, extend to let her do the step and then remember not to tense my arms. Of course, I can’t let her go too far or we’ll tumble. So there is that sweet spot where she can do the move in a big, showy fashion and I’m providing the needed support. Oh, and while remembering all this, I have to keep time to know that she’s there for a three count (six count when we do it in Viennese Waltz). And this is just one step in one dance and I’ve got nine dances with lots of patterns and they all have all these little technical details to remember and sometimes it just makes my head explode. And then I get all “I can’t do this” and “why am I doing this” and “why is this so much work” and “I’ll never remember all of this”. Fortunately, my rants don’t reach the level they used to but Kid T has to be the one to tell me the types of things I was telling my staff member. That I can do this and so on. I still don’t know for sure but it does help to hear someone tell you that you can do this (when it feels authentic).
Wish I could wrap all this up with some nice neat bow and come to some meaningful conclusion, but I’ve got nothing. I do always find it interesting when my life puts me in different positions in such a short period of time. Last night, I was the not so confident student with doubts that needed to be reassured. Today, I was the person who had to do the reassuring. But I do think being the unsure student makes me better able to be the reassuring force when I need to be. Well, off to dance again today.