My boss, who is an amazing human, taught me all about public servitude today with a story.
This is how it goes:
There was once a maintenance man who worked in a park. He worked in several parks, but he was always in the same parks every week. People in that neighborhood used to see him every week. They got to know his face. They observed him over multiple weeks. They saw what he was doing.
One day, people started bringing him cookies.
You are a public servant. You work for the good of the public and its wants and needs. You are out in the community. People see you. They know your face. They know what you’re doing; the good parts and the less than ideal parts. Part of our goal as public servants is to build community. You help build that community. You are apart of that community.
Get the cookies.
I am almost always single. It’s just how things are. Now I am in a relationship. That shift has made me think about the things that have changed in my life and the things that have stayed the same.
These are the things that I continue to do that I think would be easy for me to mindlessly stop doing in a coupled state.
1) Buying flowers. Now that it’s spring and we’re headed into summer, I want flowers in my house all the time. I feel no shame in buying bundles of them wrapped in cellophane that are meant to be given to others. Flowers instantly make me feel happier and brighter. I guess I could wait for someone/my significant other to buy me flowers as some gesture of romance or affection or kindness. Or I could just give those things to myself.
2) Spending time alone. I am an introvert through and through. When I took the Meyers-Briggs I scored a zero for extraversion. Being in a relationship usually means having a built-in adventure partner, and that can be a huge positive in life. I still find times though where I need an evening to myself, reading or relaxing or mindlessly watching Netflix and not feeling bad for not talking to anyone. This keeps me balanced and able to give my full attention to people when I am with them, whether it’s my partner or someone else.
3) Going to things by myself. I may be in a relationship, but I’m still relatively new to the city I live in and I haven’t become close with any new people since I’ve been here. I find this to be a huge flaw in life. My brain knows that relying on one person for all of my entertainment, fulfillment, buddy-buddy needs is unrealistic and potentially setting myself up for huge disappointment. I like to have a varied support network of a few individuals who know me well and that I can rely on, and vice versa. Which means every Thursday I pick up one of the free papers with event listings to see if there’s anything that interests me, and I go to the museum by myself on the first Friday of the month when it’s free, and I peruse the internet and make mental notes of things that sound cool and that I think like-minded individuals will also be at. Then I go to those events and smile and make small talk and hope that I meet a new person or two that has friend potential and try to non-creepily become friends with them or run into them again. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Eventually people start to stick.
4) in the same vein, I continue to focus on personal growth. I make new fitness goals. I read new books (and try to sneak some non-fiction in there). I make things. I go for walks. I meditate. I think things and write things.