On Being a People

Seth decided to hold auditions. It doesn’t matter for what – my nieces were crazy about the idea. He told them to have their people get in touch with his people to set up the audition, or that his people would be in touch with theirs, or something along the lines of people being in touch with people. One of my nieces promptly declared me her people, and I was swept up in a world of pretend phone calls and scheduling with my younger brother’s people, another niece.

In the course of playing, somehow, what I do for a living came up. As I explained my job as a secretary/administrative assistant and how I basically take care of the little things for the team I work with, one of my nieces exclaimed, “You’re a people in real life! That’s so cool!”

Normally, I might have had a positive reaction to her enthusiasm, but instead I resentfully noted it was much cooler to have people than to be people, because frankly, I was tired of being a people. I was coming off several weeks of having responsibilities added to my plate simply because they were things no one else wanted to do and hey, I was there.

I think they call it grunt work, and the thing about grunt work is … I’m very good at it. I’m very good at doing the things no one else wants to do – things like organizing paperwork, filling out payment receipt slips and accounting logs, talking to customers who are upset because they’re not getting answers, persisting in getting answers for those customers, coordinating between the teams I work with to resolve internal issues before they become external issues, calling external partners to get necessary information, greeting and directing and distributing calls and customers and messages and mail, hauling boxes out to the recycle bin, mopping up the floor when the ceiling is leaky, being the dictionary and writers’ manual… I’m very good at grunt work because I’m willing to do it – even when I’m not particularly sure what I’m doing, because I figure I’ll learn something new along the way. (And I can’t think of a time when I haven’t learned something new when given a new challenge.)

Normally, I enjoy being a people – I enjoy being the girl who knows what’s up because she’s involved in all of it – but … sometimes, I feel like a dumping ground. I feel like I have no value as an employee outside of my willingness to do whatever needs to be done, like my value is entirely locked up in what I accomplish for others.

And I wonder – I wonder if I will ever accomplish anything myself, or if I will always be a people. I wonder if I will ever do meaningful things, or if I will always be freeing up others to do them. I wonder if all of this wondering means it’s time to make some changes in my life, or if I just need to ride this season out until I enjoy being a people again.

It doesn’t matter. Right now, I am a people. And since I’m in it, I have the grace for it. I have the grace to be for others what I may never be or have for myself. I have the grace to be a people.

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