Adventures in Culture and Travel

15 March, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day in Trafalgar Square - Giving notice to Seriousness.

Shannon was a wee bit drunk that day.
Perhaps one of my greatest weaknesses, what could even be my hubris, is my inability to let go of things. On vacation, I not only take my baggage, but also my "baggage." I'm someone who takes on a project and focuses solely on the task of finding a way to make it work. I won't insist I'm a perfectionist, (because that's a hard label to live up to) but I do tend to have the inability to set things aside as failures. If it doesn't work one way, I'll try and try and often futilely try again until either I succeed or destroy everybody and everything around me in the process.

That's a tall leprechaun!
You may wonder why I would post such an ugly truth about myself, however it came about as I thought about the perplexing style with which we apply for jobs here in America. As if some covert, and very un-creative group managers, within every company in America, got together and decided the most important question that they could ask of you to confirm you're eligibility for the job is: "What are your weaknesses?"

What a completely idiotic question to ask! As if anyone in there right mind is going to say "I'm a neurotic dreamer who continually tries to shove the square peg in the round hole, despite everyone else's screams in horror to the opposite." No we all say the same thing. "Hmmm... let me think for a moment,  (as we pretend to think of something good to say) my biggest weakness is I may be too hard working." It's at this point, both you and the interviewer are screaming "bull shit" in each of your minds. You're thinking, "I hope that's the right answer," and the interviewer is thinking "Wow, have I heard this before." If we were actually honest and told them, "I drink too much, and have a weakness for men and women with accents", we might reserves some space for ourselves to be normal in everyday life. We don't however, at least not here in America. So it took me escaping my corporate America and landing in Trafalgar Square on Saint Patrick's day, before I too was able to confront how miserably stuck up I was, conforming myself, rather than finding myself.
Saint Patty's Day in front of the National Gallery

We had just met our friends from Bristol under the clock-tower in Paddington Station when we headed down to the largest party of the world in front of the National Gallery. It's rather difficult to adjust, given the gravity of flying around the world, and being tossed into the world's large social event with tens of thousands of people who couldn't care about anything but drinking and having fun. Especially when you're an individual of efficiency and process. Across the pond? I was a fish out of water, and I'm not so sure I knew how to have this kind of fun any more. My last high-school party resulted in a self nose piercing and me vomiting in the street after chasing habanero peppers with beer.  My college history wasn't much better, and involved breaking hearts then finding my car the next morning at an ex's house after abandoning her to leave with another woman. In contrast, I was now grown up and serious, I repeated to myself like some brainwashed, corporate slave. One does not conduct themselves with such behavior, I told myself looking around with clear evidence to the contrary.

Somewhere I there is Bono and U2, I think.
As I queued in the mile long line, awaiting my pint of Guinness for the second, (or third time) in a sea of rock music, leprechauns, Guinness dogs and Irish green, I think it dawned on me. Who I am, and my weaknesses in life are no different than those of the thousands of diverse, dancing, vomiting strangers around me. Being an adult isn't about being serious and overcoming our weaknesses, it's about embracing them. Perhaps my younger self had it more figured out than I ever do now. Perhaps responsibility, jobs, and sadistic, self-mutinying interview questions turned me into this monstrosity of seriousness and logic? If I could just embrace myself, failures and all, regardless of what others think, then I'd be able to lay down my emotional baggage and leave it at Trafalgar Square forever. To confront the ultimate job interview, the job of living life, and respond by saying "I have lots of failures, and undoubtedly I will make lots of mistakes, but they're apart of who I am, and while I may not be perfect- there's no place I'd rather be, than right here- right now." As Elbert Hubbart once said "Don't take life too serious, you'll never get out of it alive."