Some days you go to work and it’s the same old same old. I’ve been doing the same thing in my career for 20 years. The technology changes, but it really is the same every day. At least I’ve always worked at places where what I was doing actually makes a difference in the world, so the monotony has meaning.
This week I got to do something fun and exciting – not related to programming at all. The company I work for is a leader in nonprofit software solutions, and one of the best things about them is how they support the nonprofit community and support employees who give back. With my involvement at Hear Indiana, the company decided to film a video about my volunteering. They sent me the interview questions a few weeks ago, and I had plenty of time to look them over and get my brain going.
If you know me, you know my brain (and therefore my speaking) often goes on tangents, so having the questions and my answers prepared in advance was really helpful – and really insightful. Quite honestly, there were some things in there that really gave me a good introspective look. For example, it never really occurred to me what my first influences with the concept of “giving back” were. I kept going back to when I was so sick with Crohn’s as a child and how I look back on that experience and what I remember was the sheer generosity of people, near and far, a lot of whom I didn’t even know: Those who kept me in their thoughts or prayed for me in whatever belief system they had; The staff in the hospital, especially some of the nurses, who not only took care of me physically, but were willing to hold my hand during scary procedures; The staff and donors to the Ronald McDonald House, where my parents stayed since we lived an hour away from the hospital; My classmates, who even if they were told by a teacher they had to do so, made funny and interesting get well cards for me. As I have grown older, I may have become more cynical in my views towards other people, but I really do believe that people as a whole are good, and I have this experience to remind me of that.
So, why do I volunteer at Hear Indiana? Why do I share my story? Why do I write this blog? All very interesting questions and all come back to the idea that my fundamental belief system is that people are good and people should always help other people when they can. If my story can help someone else who is going through a similar struggle, or educate someone about hearing technology, or inspire someone to not give up, then everything I do is worth it. The same is true as to why I have chosen a career in nonprofits. Do I always agree with the missions of my customers? Absolutely not. In fact, I vehemently disagree with many of them. But what I do believe in is their right to exist and their right to believe in what they do, even when that is not aligned with mine.
Thank you to Rachel and Steven for spending the last couple of days helping me remember why I love my job and why my story is important. I can’t wait to see the final product where they will edit my tangents to make me sound competent and like I might actually know what I’m talking about.
In other work news, my friend Gabe came back to visit from our Australian office this week. The last time I hung out with him, my implant had not even been activated for even a month, so everything was new and exciting. Last night we had happy hour with a large number of coworkers and I found myself able to participate in conversations that a year ago would have been completely lost. I was also very clearly hearing better than some of the other people in the room too – to the point where I may have been speaking too quietly because I could likely hear myself better than other people could hear themselves.
After the big gathering a group of 7 of us remained and went to a different bar where we had outdoor seating. In the past, a group that big would have been overwhelming to me, but last night I was able to follow almost every conversation – and participate – even when multiple ones were going on around me. Even after it got dark and lipreading wasn’t really an option. There were moments when I just stopped and listened and it was glorious. It was wonderful to be able to really connect with people that I didn’t know very well, and to chat with Gabe again. Unfortunately, since he left Indianapolis, I have not had a coworker that I am as thrilled to eavesdrop on. Thanks everyone, for a wonderful night.