“Also, there are women all around.”
I half-smile like I am hiding some secret. He wouldn’t guess that secret is my fear.
“Start with the cooks who work here.”
You see this project of mine, it sounds wonderful in theory and it will be wonderful in actuality, but it’s scary as hell. How does one walk up to a woman she doesn’t even know and expect to receive the truth? How does this conversation begin? How is a world of secrets shed to a stranger?
The only correct answer is to start. I think I am scared to start so close to home, though. If I am awkward about these interviews, then I will be seeing these women every day after. This is why I am tempted to start somewhere else. Is it okay to just sit down somewhere and ask someone, tell me about yourself?
I know it varies from person to person, but is that generally acceptable? To start a bit of a conversation and then shake it up with a, “do you, by chance, want to tell me your story?” It makes an impression, that’s for sure.
Will it make them nervous to see me writing? Will they like it? I can start at NakoMatt maybe, that really nice lady from customer service is starting to recognize me. Maybe I can ask her if she wants to sit down after work one day and talk. Just talk.
I must be prepared for rejection. I cannot take it personally.
Something I need to pay attention to, something I must learn to gauge, is whether or not the gratification of talking about themselves is enough for these women. Everyone loves talking about herself. We are narcissistic by nature. However we also are defensive creatures and creatures of bargain. We guard ourselves, unless we believe that sharing swings profit in our favor. For some people, the excuse to talk about themselves accomplishes this. Others drive harder bargains. Some need to build trust first (how do I promise my trustworthiness?) others need to benefit emotionally, receive some kind of healing, receive the promise of happiness. This second option is not me. How do I make them see the benefit of being written about? What is the benefit? It is the memory, it is the food for creation, it is the sharing of ideas that not only is fruitful for the receiver but also for the giver. So the answer is I don’t make people see this, I tell them that is what I perceive, and maybe they will perceive a benefit for themselves as well.
As I learn to gauge this, I will still face rejection, however I will not have to worry so much about being offensive. That is the center of my fear in starting this project. I fear that I will offend. I don’t want these people to think that I view them as specimens. They’re not that at all, and if they are then everyone who enters and exits my life is. Rather, they are people. People who live lives that are highly generalized where I come from, highly misunderstood. By understanding snippets of each of their stories, that is all I will do: understand snippets of stories. I don’t plan to engineer any sweeping philosophies, rather I am intrigued to understand individual stories saturated with drama that I expect to be both similar and different in nature from that which is most common at home.
This brainstorming session isn’t a prelude to this project, rather it is a prelude to this conscious attempt to be proactive with it. I will spend more time exploring independently, but only to a degree that suits both my personal safety and the needs of New Life and Uzima. I will also force myself to practice CONFIDENCE when I have the opportunity to do so. As long as I tread with relative caution and utter kindness, I hope that I will be able to achieve instigation of conversation without being offensive.