A lot of the Grand Meetup is repetition. That isn’t a criticism. With nearly 600 people here, you inevitably end up doing a lot of talking, and depending on who you’re talking with you either catch up on the same things over and over, or you meet someone for the first time and give them the overview on you. And depending on what questions you ask, you can hear the same sorts of things over and over. I quite like it. This week, I’ve been asking everyone “How is your GM going?” and getting a lot of interesting responses back. Something I like about this question is I can ask the same person this question at different times in the week, and get different answers. It’s also been an interesting jumping off point for more questions that are utterly dependent on how people interpret the question and consider their own circumstances. What I mean is, some people are having a really fun GM, and you can ask them what sorts of fun things they’ve done. Some people are having a hard time at the GM, because they’re introverted, and this many people around them all the time is difficult. It’s a chance to extend some empathy, and maybe just stand quietly for a little bit so they don’t need to keep talking. Some people are enjoying the GM but missing their family/pets/own bed, and they want to tell you more about their amazing family/pets/mattress.

I started thinking this morning about narratives. The GM really affords you a chance to create your own narrative for your peers. We really only see the vast majority of this population once a year, so you can present yourself differently than you might with people you see everyday. You don’t have to be the person you were on the first day at the office. You have freedom of expression, and freedom to reinvent yourself as much as you’re comfortable doing. I usually wear jeans or yogas at all GMs, with various t-shirts and hoodies. But ever since my hair went curly and I’ve had to start doing my hair every single morning, I’ve started putting on actual grown-up clothes. People have noticed and commented on it (in a very kind, flattering way), and it’s fun to be able to change my image this little bit.

That got me thinking… my narrative has been pretty much the same for years now. I love to tell people about my kids, and I’ve had some really awesome conversations with other Automatticians about their kids (and one amazing discussion about the anxieties of pregnancy and how it changes you forever), so most people – I think – expect that my family is the focus of what I talk about when I talk about me. I am not eager to change that.

But as a thought experiment, I wondered what other interesting things could I talk about as well? Here’s a short list of other narratives:

  • We have moved 3 times in 3 years, and will move once more this year.
  • I’m a dual citizen with Britian.
  • I have a visual art degree, and like to draw and paint (but don’t get to much).
  • I have an English degree, and enjoy reading.
  • I’ve sat on two boards of directors (is… is that the right pluralization of board of directors?)
  • We enjoy travel, and have taken the kids to about 30 states, including Hawaii and roadtripping from New York state to North Dakota (and back… twice).
  • We took our first house from a two bedroom/two bath 1930s house to a 3 bedroom/3 bath modern house (Bob did 90% of the work).
  • I have 12 Happiness patches (see below), which are representative either of teams worked with, or particular division things.
Top to bottom, left to right: Core Happiness, Hermes, Totes Def (a Happiness way of agreeing or +1 something); PUG, Woo Support, Serenity; Wut (when Karen gives you this face, you’ll know why), Andromeda, Elm; Chiron, Jetpack, TOS.

What are some narratives about yourself that you could start sharing, but perhaps don’t because you are used to the narrative you have?

One response to “Narratives”

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