I think by far the most challenging aspect of my job is the personal interaction required. My job is not merely comprised of the physical act of performing services, but complicated by the need to effectively communicate with people. I have to understand what they are asking for — which often requires translating what they ask for into what they want. Once I’ve managed to find the wavelength that each client operates on, and feel relatively confident that I understand what they expect from their actual service from me, I then have to find the right wavelength to converse with them.
This means that on any given day I have to play Zelig to six to 12 different personality types that parade through my life.
At least I have my little solo studio now, leaving me to deal with only — usually — one personality at a time to bend and shape myself to. But doing the chameleon act several times a day can be exhausting. Especially since it’s not as simple as putting on a smile for a stranger who will be gone in five minutes — like the incredibly cheerful folks manning the local Starbucks drive-thru. No, I have to sit face to face and hold hands with each individual.
This leads to a very intimate type of interaction. I get to know each person, and they get to know me. I’m sure they often feel they get to know too much about me. I assure you that I often get to know too much about them. It’s like some sort of long, slow Vulcan mind-meld.
For the most part, I genuinely appreciate the experience. I think that human contact is important for people. I’m glad to be able to offer my clients a hand to hold (literally) and a patient, non-judgmental (I truly do my best on that) ear, balanced with honest input. And I think that, in the long run, I am a better person for all the people who have bent that ear and given me personal insight into perspectives and belief systems that might have otherwise gone unappreciated by my personal experiences and background.
But some days require shifting between so many different ideologies, it can get a little dizzying and downright exhausting.
At this point, I wouldn’t be able to tell if I’m schizophrenic. With a job like this, who can tell who the voices in my head belong to at the end of the day?