As I prepare to deliver another training at work, I could not help feeling like a fraud. Working on the brighter side of Losantiville is a reality I could not have imagined in the past. Why should I be here? What did I do or not do to deserve a life here? There must have been a mistake.
In the eyes of every coworker, an unrecognizable image of myself is reflected. Do they see me? Can they sense my strangeness? I play both warden and prisoner in the prison of my life. Sometimes I am too harsh in my punishments and delusional in my accusations. Who could get it right?
My girl, Shawni, in HR seems to get it right. She has an apparent certainty about her. She glides through the customary phrases of “good morning” and “how was your weekend”. Her stories seem to charm. Perhaps, her ostensible self acceptance presents a model to her peers. A model I seem to be unable to emulate.
Before Grandmother passed away, she would say to me, “teach people how to treat you, Maria.” If she were here today I would ask her to define “Maria”. I question my own existence these days. I look at my hands with the awe of a newborn child. The suspension of disembodiment weakens my stomach. I hurry to the bathroom, dizzy.
The training begins in five minutes. I cannot see straight. Luckily, my teammate is presenting with me. He is up first. I have time to compose myself. I wish I had gum.
“Maria, you want to take that question?” My teammate, Joseph, asks reaching for a lifeline. The entire room is focused on me. The eyes of both men and women most of whom have white faces and mysterious backgrounds await a response. They all seem to have studied the same secret scripts.
“Sure thing, Joe. Application servers are tools for creating, deploying, and managing one or more software applications from a single location.” I sounded like a dictionary. Half the room stopped paying attention when he called my name. Maybe they were multitasking. I always offer them doubt’s benefits and reserve its hindrances for myself.
I have given presentations on the same technologies year in and year out since college. I could give the entire presentation unconsciously: Maria, the corporate robot. Is this what my mother envisioned when she promised I could be anything?
Joseph passed the presentation to me, and I took the podium. The presentation ended without error. Surprisingly, he did not cut me off once during my portion.
“This job is only temporary,” I tell myself. Yet, temporary feels like an eternity these days.