Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore my host family! I have the entire upstairs to myself, and they respect my privacy. The entire church has been so welcoming and wonderful…I have no complaints!
Well maybe I do. They’re just not the kind of thing that I’d ever say out loud. They’re petty little things, like people talking with food in their mouths and parents who don’t teach their kids to say “please” and “thank you.” These are the kinds of things I only mention around people I trust can listen to me spill my guts without taking those guts and eviscerating me publicly.
Jordan and Maria do this for me. Jordan’s the Youth Pastor, and we spend enough time together to be thoroughly sick of each other by the end of the day. And yet somehow we almost always end up having dinner together, often with Maria (my host’s grand-daughter) and laughing into the evening.
There’s a young woman in the church who works in telephone customer service for a large company. She has to “keep a smile in her voice” no matter what the customer says. It’s emotionally exhausting! If a supervisor overhears her and her co-workers venting to each other about customers, even when they’re in the company cafeteria far away from the phones, in a secure building where the only people who can hear them are their fellow workers, the supervisor chastises them.
This is counter productive. Everybody needs to vent somewhere, and the best possible place these people can vent is at work to each other! I think all the employees would be so much happier and better able to “keep a smile in their voice” if they could just spend twenty minutes of their day venting with each other.
One of the college guys just came home for Christmas. He’s a Resident Assistant in his dormitory, and they have meetings twice a week. Once with just their building, and another large meeting with all the Residential Life staff on campus. They are not only permitted, but encouraged to vent during these times, which are behind closed doors and far away from prying ears. They get to hear the truth behind incidents that came up during the week, instead of hearing through the whispered grapevine things that may or may not be true. The staff makes it very clear that everything they talk about is confidential, and should not be talked about outside where there is even the slightest chance to be overheard.
One of the moms in the church is a writer. She was telling me how frustrating it is to have to maintain a positive and upbeat persona in public, whether it’s online or at a book signing or convention. Some people like to throw rocks at anyone in the spotlight, even if it’s a tiny spotlight on a little known, mildly successful romance author. There are several sites where people can leave reviews of books, and although this writer hasn’t had a problem, her friends who write erotica or GLBTQ or other so-called non-traditional, or at least non-mainstream romances are plagued with people who put up negative reviews before the book is even available to the public! On Goodreads, people can name their bookshelves things like “Authors Who Stink” and they can pick a book they hate and put it on this shelf. Everyone who looks at that book’s page can see that someone labeled it “Authors Who Stink.” There is no vetting or moderation of comments. People can say anything.
This writer was venting to me mostly because we were sitting alone, waiting for the kids to do something (I forget what) and she knew I wouldn’t take her spilled guts and eviscerate her. The only time she interacts with other authors is online, which is the worst possible place to vent when you’re trying to maintain a mature and professional demeanor. She does see others at conventions, but with so many people around you can never be sure when an innocent comment might be taken the wrong way. Sadly, she has to be careful about what she says around both her GLBTQ writer friends and her Inspirational writer friends. There isn’t much crossover there, which is sad.
I’m a big proponent of “Why can’t we all just get along?” However people will always have differences, and opinions and times when they just need to vent. Instead of trying to smother these feelings, we should help people let it out in a safe way.