By K. Hecht & A. Hosack, P. Berman
What if no one wants me? What if they hate me on sight? What if I just freeze up?
Claire was practicing job interviews with Shelly while Mrs. Carson played with their kids. Even though these were just “practice”, Claire kept having negative thoughts about being rejected. Shelly was asking Claire simple questions, but her fears shut her brain down and she didn’t know what to answer. Shelly had just asked, “Why did you want to be a dental hygienist?”
“Claire, why aren’t you answering me?” Claire had been looking at Shelly but not seeing her.
Claire was deep inside her own head. She was hearing her mother scream “loser.” She was huddled in a corner, pushing herself into the wall trying to disappear from the abuse. “Claire,” Shelly called out again. This, time, Claire heard Shelly’s voice not her mom’s. She looked up and said, “I’m so sorry, Shelly. I was caught in a fog. (1-minute pause) You are trying to help me, and I am letting you down. (1-minute pause) I am just so scared about these interviews.” Shelly took Claire’s hand and looked her in the eyes. “You can do this Claire. This is much easier than school and you did great at that. Come on, open your mouth and say something that is true. Sure, I know you were looking for a job that could support you and Davy. So was I. Don’t lead with that. Start with something you like about dental offices.”
What do I like? (2-minute pause) No one screams or hits me. It’s calm. I feel calm there. I want to work there. I do.
“Why do you want to work here?” Claire took a deep breath, thought for a moment about her fish, and then said, “Everything about your office makes me feel at home. I am like a member of a family of people who are calmly and efficiently helping to keep people healthy.” Shelly looked at Claire with a grin, “That was fantastic. You have earned a tickle party.”
Shelly and Claire ran into the room with the kids and began chasing them around, gently tickling them until everyone was literally out-of-breath. Lying in a heap on the floor with Davy, Claire stared up at the ceiling and reviewed her day. She still felt anxious but now, also excited. Shelly had helped her figure out why she enjoyed being a dental hygienist. She had shared her fears- and Shelly had taken her hand, not pushed her away. Shelly wasn’t disgusted by her “needing something.”
My mother was wrong. Nurse Karin, Ms. Alexandra, the Carsons and now Shelly, all knew she needed help sometimes and hadn’t seem disgusted at all. I needed help growing up, just like Davy does now. Maybe my mom just couldn’t handle it?
“Claire, are you ready for another interview question?” Shelly was scratching her son Marcus’ stomach and he was purring like a cat. Claire smiled. She was learning to be like the Carsons and Shelly; a loving mother. She looked at Davy and said, “If I answer another question, can I scratch you to make you purr?” Davy rolled onto her lap. “I will lay her quietly mommy while you answer your school question.” Claire stroked his hair and smiled.
“Claire, tell me what you like most about being a hygienist?” Claire thought for a moment and said, “I think I liked cleaning kids’ teeth the most. They always look so small in the chair and the noise of the machines can spook them. (1-minute silence) I like helping them laugh and suggesting they pretend to be cows with big huge mouths to open so I can see their teeth.”
“Claire, you need to say that. Kids are squirmy and lots of hygienists get frustrated by that. It might give you an edge with dentists if they know you enjoy working with kids.” “Kids are just naturally squirmy,” Claire smiled, kissing his forehead. Davy didn’t smile back, he just looked at her and pointed to his belly. She began to gently scratch it and he began to purr and rub his head against her stomach. Mrs. Carson walked into the room with a warm plate of cookies and milk for a mid-afternoon snack. She found two moms scratching the bellies of two contented little boys.
Do you have a friend, neighbor, or colleagues who might need help learning something you are know how to do? Could it be harder to ask for help than to accept it when offered?
Consider taking a personal step. Make the world a more accepting place by offering to help someone this week.