Everyone has a gift, maybe two. Whether inherited from, or ingrained by, a parent, or a defensive mechanism you’ve adapted over the years, this gift is something that defines you, even if you don’t know what it is. My gift is empathy. I got it from my mother.
Empathy is a gift of understanding and sharing the emotions of others. When I see someone going through something, I can put myself in their shoes and have a good understanding of what they are going through. If I am about to say something, I can intuit how my words would influence the person I’m speaking to. It’s never perfect, and everyone can do it to some degree. But, like math, some people do it more accurately, and faster.
I’m lightning fast and rarely miss the mark, if I take the time to use my gift. It’s something that can take awareness, which can easily be turned off. (Ask anyone who’s been offended by me, especially on the internet, where my gift is far less effective.)
Empathy in Service
The best is when you get someone in the service industry who has natural empathy. Like Joy, a waitress I had the pleasure of being served by recently.
Joy never made any conversation about her. Based on what information we gave her, she asked questions that had us opening up about ourselves. And when our friends showed up and asked for drinks, Joy delivered those drinks without a word. Later, she told me that she didn’t want to interrupt us, and since our backs were turned, thought of how pleasantly surprised we’d be to turn around and discover our drinks on the bar.
It’s not a trick that would have worked on everyone, but she probably wouldn’t have used it on everyone. She read us, put herself in our shoes, and delivered a great experience.
Joy said that she loves her job. She found a place where she gets to use her gift daily. My favorite jobs were also in customer service, where I got to make the world a brighter place, one person at a time. (My gift also made me good at security, as I knew how to not piss people off while telling them what they’re not allowed to do, but that’s less enjoyable.)
As a writer, I sometimes struggle with this. I don’t get to give people that great customer experience. And a lonely job isn’t one for an empath who craves interaction. However, I also have the ability to understand and express a wide range of characters, and situations. There’s something special in that, if I can find an audience who doesn’t typecast me by the first of my works they get their hands on.
I’m not just “The Jadepunk Guy”.