Smart End

TBB has been clear about what needs to happen to me.   She’s not at all sure how it would work or where it would happen, but is is sure that it would be the best thing for me.

I need to get thrown into the smart end.

When I was in Australia, I first reported to someone in the Senior Executive Service (SES), the government’s designation for those who would be directors or vice presidents in the corporate world.   As I was leaving he gave me an evaluation, noting how I didn’t just do the technical consulting, but how I also did team management and public relations so well that I surprised him, far exceeding expectations.

He was sure that I existed at SES level.

The second time, I reported through a Computing Service Officer(CSO) 5, the top level of bureaucrat in the technical area.   He wanted to keep me around, filling a slot that would be perfect for me, as a CSO 4, one level below him.

When the big boss heard this, he laughed.   He knew what was happening; to be a senior executive you had to have vision, but to be a service officer — a sergeant — you only had to look down and keep order.  CSO 5 couldn’t imagine anyone could ever be bigger that the pigeon holes.

I realized this as I negotiated the medical system today.

The clerks and even the physicians assistant I saw understood different as deficient, broken because you couldn’t follow the nice, clear, simple rules.

The doctor, though, figured out smart easy.   Different to her, just like the SES leader, wasn’t broken, it was interesting, compelling and powerful. We quickly ran through a number of topics, from TED talks to systems, moving fast and fluid in a way that respected and lifted both of us.

When my mother was in the hospital for a couple of weeks a year before she died, she suggested that the reason I was there so much in the hospital was because I liked talking with smart people.

I was there as a translator, of course, getting her out of two different rapid response emergencies, one to ICU where we had to talk to palliative care, and getting her home on Christmas Eve so I could make my parents their last Christmas together here.

She watched me negotiate the world for her — “You spoke for me, you spoke for your mother, when are you going to speak for you?” my father would ask from his deathbed — and saw me interact.   There was more than once when I was asked if I worked in heath services; I knew the questions to ask, understood quickly, and worked as part of the care team.

Just like Startup Weekend when I found a very smart partner and we made something out of nothing to create a winner, when I am with smart people they get the joke, understand the nuance and see the world in a vibrant way.

My health issue today was essentially stupid.  I didn’t understand the kind of pain a simple buildup of cerumen could cause.  It had never happened to me before. 

I resisted getting help, and then went through two different offices, one plebeian and  routine where I was shut down and a second advanced and sharp where I was heard and engaged.  The difference was crystalline.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that,
but the really great make you feel that you, too,
can become great.
—Mark Twain

I deal with small people and they end up making me feel smaller than they are.  They see difference as brokenness, see me as weird and busted.  If I can do the complex things I can do, then surely, doing the routine things that they enforce must be easy for me, right?

Throw me in the banal end of the pool and I will sink and die, trying to find ways to break into the small, narrow conventional mindset of people who don’t see possibilities beyond rules.

It is only in the smart end where I have the depth to be big, fluid and beautiful.   Today, the smart doc and I instantly discussed Aspergers and she immediately valued the fact that humans don’t all think alike, are not neuro-stereotypical.  “Thank God!” she intoned.

The TED talk the doc referenced is below.

Every time I get pulled back into doing the tiny and flattened, I get creamed.   I am neurodiverse, no doubt.  I am “not easily distractable, overly social and do not suffer from a deficit of attention to detail.”  Call it ADD, trans nature or anything else, squeezing into a normative mindset hurts me.

For me, faster is usually better.   Skip through it, make it concise and crisp and we can have high bandwidth conversations that baffle those who resist the gracious and elegant fludidity of change.  Give me new, keep me engaged & growing.

Smart people understand that I understand them and that means I am worth understanding.   Other people just want what fits in their holder, what is amusing and affirming to what they already believe.  I have to be about affirming them, not about challenging them.

The more time I spend trying to help people get over the same damn ant hill, the more I decay.

TBB is right.  The solution for me is not learning to more effectively live in a world defined by others, fitting in better and becoming less challenging, less myself.   The solution is diving into the smart end where people can see, understand, value and mirror my intense and witty mind.

How do do that, though, well, that’s not something we understand.  She just knows if I can’t, she will have another transperson to write off, and that makes her sad.

I resisted going to get tended to today, knowing how tough it would be and never expecting to meet someone smart, sharp and fast who would connect with me.  I just don’t carry those expectations.

And that is hard.  How does one dive into the smart end if the expectation is that the pool is almost dry?