birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Negative Nuance

Interesting that we get to write today of someone feeling misunderstood. I was just speaking to my spiritual director today about how we can both sometimes feel misunderstood by those we hoped/thought knew us. In my case, I was thinking specifically about colleagues at my workplace. But I want to start with misunderstandings between my husband and I.

David and I have many aspects in common—faith, ethnicity, age, educational status, general political priorities, outlook on life. But—we communicate quite differently, even as we have learned to reach mutual ground. For some reason, he’ll often say some stream of observations, and in the midst I’ll say “No.” Eventually he’ll stop and say “So you agree that XYZ” and I’ll say “Yes.” And he’ll say, “So the answer is ‘yes’ WHY did you say no?” And all I can think is that our communication rhythm is different—he’s making assertions in a stream when I ‘m hearing them individually. Early on I joked that we just don’t banter well like I do with some of my other friends.

So, maybe our communication isn’t effortless and natural. And we can certainly do better. But in the long run, despite some detours, we get the job done.

But the place where the sense of misunderstanding that stings most sharply is my workplace. In our small grade group of planning, I’ll [say] something that’s important to me about teaching—more play, more project-based learning. And most of the people in my “cadre” just look at me like they either don’t understand why anyone would find values in these—or that they just don’t much understand what I am laboring to say. Or that worse—they feel the satisfied complacency of the New Guard and really don’t see value in what I have to say. Perhaps this kind of miscommunication is even more frustrating than that of my husband. Because I want to feel I have something of value to offer to an intellectual community. When my ideas fall on deaf ears, it’s a bit like I’m not even there.

Progress Not Perfection

First Two Weeks