Last night I was chatting to a young friend who has just submitted his PhD thesis for examination. Clearly the process of writing up has been tremendously taxing for him. And he is certainly not unique in that experience. His supervisor had said to him that writing your thesis is one of the most taxing processes you will ever experience. And I know that has been true for many people I know across all disciplines.
Except it wasn’t for me. And I know it isn’t that taxing for everyone. But I have huge respect for those for whom the process is so demanding.
I’d be very surprised if a reader could pick up on the extent of emotional effort it had taken the author to write. My point is that the quality of the product is not dependent on the emotional cost. We just seem to be wired differently.
Over the last few days I have felt as though I have slain some of my personal dragons. By this I mean I have managed to deal with a few situations which are a big deal to me with relative ease and with little procrastination. I know that those same situations would be seen to be mildly irritating to another person. More like swatting a fly than slaying a dragon.
It fascinates me that similar events can be experienced so radically differently by two people.
It occurs to me that we need to be true to our own experience, but to hold it in perspective of what we know to be true for others. We should celebrate the dragon slaying moments. Regardless of the objective magnitude of the situation – if it has felt like a big deal to us, then we should celebrate those times when we have stood up and done what needed to be done. Likewise, when we have done something with far greater ease than others, gratitude seems like an appropriate response.
We also need to be compassionate to those we are walking alongside. To recognise that even if something isn’t a big deal for me, it doesn’t mean that the other person is somehow at fault. Likewise, to know that the person walking alongside me may not really understand quite why I am donning my armour and pulling out my best Georgian sword to face the fruit fly they are seeing.