I think people underestimate me. I’m tall, quiet, shy, polite, and have a hard time telling people ‘no.’ I don’t exactly look threatening. A former patient of mine said I was as cuddly as a teddy bear. Not even joking about that one.
So I think that people may not believe me when I tell them I can do something.
This morning and afternoon I worked at my second job at a nursing home/rehab center. (Remember I’m a physical therapist). After receiving my list of patients, I was immediately told by another therapist: “Don’t even bother going to see HER before breakfast. She NEVER works with anyone. You can try, but she’ll say no.”
I smiled sweetly at this therapist I’d never met before and thought to myself: “Just watch me.”
Within ten minutes, I had the patient laughing, smiling, and telling me all about where she’d gotten her nails done and how long ago her 50th wedding anniversary was.
Afterwards, the other therapist was shocked that the patient had worked with me. That she’d been wrapped nice and tight around my little pinky finger.
I don’t think people realize just how persuasive and sickeningly sweet I can be. It’s felled many a snarky patient.
But besides that one therapist underestimating my abilities before she’d even see me work, she passed judgment on the poor patient simply because she hadn’t wanted to do therapy before breakfast. Is that really fair?
There is a great deal of prejudice against the elderly these days. Far more than the up and coming generations. We treat them like children, speak to them like they’re babies, and shove them around like a piece of overcooked steak on a dinner plate. No wonder they’re a bit testy! I would be, too!
I’m awfully tempted to write a book from the perspective of a nursing home patient. I know many other therapists who do the bare minimum with their patients, telling themselves it’s okay because they’re old and not expected to do much.
Excuse me. No.
They have more to teach us than we can teach them. My patients in the nursing home love me. I’m going to go ahead and toot my own horn. But they also know that when I come to get them, it’s not going to be an easy session. Because I won’t give up on them. Just because they’re old doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put just as much effort into helping them as a young athlete with an ACL tear. If I believe that they’re going to get better, and I push them because I believe in it so much, then they’ll start to believe in themselves, too. And they do. It never fails.
Why am I ranting about this?
Because I think that so many people also underestimate writers. We get that scornful look when we tell people what we do, as if being a writer is a blight on humanity, and only those who can’t get a “real” job fall back on writing as a means of supporting themselves.
I hate to disparage any writer. I’m sure I’ve done it in the past, but I really try not to. The sheer amount of time required to produce any amount of creative working is immense, and it irks me when we tell these people that they’re not good enough, even if we don’t like their work. That they haven’t contributed anything to society.
Hello? Go ahead and tell Anne Frank (if she were living), that she didn’t make a darn bit of difference in the world. Or tell that to J.R.R. Tolkien. Or J.K. Rowling. Or Shakespeare. Or Jane Austen. Or Charles Dickens. I could go on for days.
Where would we be without writers? Without the dreamers of impossible dreams?
Don’t underestimate people. We can’t afford to. We have no idea what kind of talent and drive we’re squelching when we try and hold people back from pursuing goals that may change the world. (And this goes for writers AND the elderly).
Don’t underestimate me. Because behind this quiet, shy, introverted demeanor beats the heart of a warrior waiting to strike.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia