I usually get a couple of responses to my columns each week. Often it's my old teachers, telling me how proud they are to see my writing published (though in actuality they're probably shocked to see that I'm able to have a job which requires some kind of a deadline). Other times I get emails from people who are able to commiserate with my experiences, and those are the kind of emails I enjoy the most. After all, I often expose the most private and embarrassing parts of myself to help other people feel like they can be silly and awkward and get themselves into impossible situations without feeling like they're alone.
Unfortunately, this level of honesty and self-exposure (combined with a self-deprecating sense of humor) occasionally leads to another type of email, the email where the writer is worried about me, or at least worried about my self-esteem.
I would like to reassure those people that no one who has ever met me in person has ever worried about my level of confidence and self-esteem. There's a lot about me that I love. In fact, aside from my son, there's absolutely no one in the world that I love more than myself. And to be totally honest, when it comes to certain things, such as who gets to hog the majority of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I love myself even a little more than my son.
Right now at my work I've been entrusted with orienting a new hire. I'm very proud that I've been trusted with this level of responsibility. My boss probably gave me this assignment because I work hard, can get obsessively detail-oriented, manage my time effectively and, while I don't actually stay as cool as a cucumber, I do manage to stay cool enough not to scald the top off of my work mouth.
I'm only a couple a weeks into this new assignment, but I'm enjoying myself immensely, and have found that I'm good at it for a reason totally different than any that my boss had probably already considered. I have a great talent for making those around me feel comfortable. I love all people, all types of people, and just want people to be feel comfortable. At work I can make my stressed co-workers laugh, find the humor in the most terrible pools of bodily fluids, and if I snicker a little at someone's spilled coffee, people know there's no judgment in it, since I myself probably just finished falling down the stairs to the cafeteria.
I'm good at holding hands and giving hugs. I'm probably the best person I know at throwing Jello parties for a child who's just had their appendix taken out. I'm a good mom. I'm good at reading bedtime stories, though terrible at putting together one of those child-sized desks that comes from the department store.
I sincerely believe that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. I'm willing to share my own weaknesses through this column, so that you can reflect — and laugh about — your own. Just because I have weaknesses doesn't mean that I don't also have my own strengths, the problem is that they're not quite as funny.
At my work I have a co-worker who is know for being a man of few words. He can be very quiet and thoughtful, traits which are often mistaken for being a very serious man. When I can make this man laugh, either in person or over the phone it makes me feel proud of myself for the rest of the day.
The idea that my column, running just once a week in the local paper, might make even just a couple people laugh is enough to put a spring in my step.
Zoe Abel is also good at plowing through a good paperback novel, adding the perfect amount of bubbles to her bath and gorging on peanut butter cups. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.