Recently, I was feeling a bit blue. I felt as if others did not appreciate my accomplishments to the degree they warranted. Like most of us, I hold down a job that can be demanding and requires extreme knowledge, concentration, or effort to be successful. I have written a total of 10 complete books (4 published and 6 pending publishing). I have multiple other books in progress. I am a skilled software programmer and website developer who can program in multiple languages. I run a podcast where I develop episode ideas, managing the recording, edit the audio files, handle distribution/uploads, convert audio files to video clips for YouTube, and more. I have my hands in many pies, as the saying goes, and deal with a number of things that many people out there have no clue about. And as I accomplish something significant in one of these areas or reach a key milestone I get very excited but it seems that even the people closest to me don’t share that same level of excitement or appreciation for what I’ve done.
But, just as I was starting to feel resentment for those around me that failed to recognize the effort involved, the accomplishments achieved, and the personal investment in what I’ve done, I had a conversation with a close friend that made me realize something that helped put my feelings into a different perspective.
My buddy is a music guy. He eats, sleeps, drinks, breaths, lives music. He works as a band director for a local school. Music isn’t just a passion for him but also a means of income, his livelihood.
I am a musical idiot. I know nothing about music but other than it plays on the radio and that I prefer rock music over any other genre. I don’t play an instrument. I went to a school that did not have a band or band class. I know there are chords and notes in music but couldn’t tell you anything more than that. I can identify several words that are associated with music but would be hard-pressed to define or explain them if asked.
Well, my friend had come to our house to visit and play Magic the Gathering with me and two of my sons. During a game, my buddy started talking about some musical arrangement he was working on for the upcoming marching season his students would be performing. He only mentioned it briefly before changing subjects.
It was little more than a comment in passing to me at the time it was made.
Later, after we had finished playing, my buddy and I were chatting and got onto the topic of feeling appreciated and respected by those around us. He mentioned his arrangement stuff again and how the conversation didn’t go anywhere when he first brought it up.
I explained that it was hard for me to get as excited about it like he was but I simply didn’t understand what any of it meant. I heard him say it but because I have ZERO musical knowledge or skills the effort involved for what he had done was completely beyond me. Some of the terms used were unfamiliar to me which meant I had to clue what he was saying and if I didn’t understand the words then it would be difficult to understand the effort and skill required to achieve what he had achieved.
No sooner than I explained why I struggled to match his excitement for his achievement did I realize that the same if probably true for those around me who don’t seem to get as excited about my accomplishments.
My wife isn’t a programmer. None of my kids are programmers. My wife doesn’t write books. None of my kids write books. My wife doesn’t manage a podcast. None of my kids, not even the one I do the podcast with, manages a podcast. My wife doesn’t do web design/dev. None of my kids do web design/dev. My wife doesn’t to IT Security or Identity and Access Management stuff. None of my kids to IT Security or IAM stuff.
I am a black sheep even among my own family.
But because I operate in an area that is so different than the areas that they know it would be hard for them to understand what has gone into the things I get excited about. When I reveal a new web app that contains 2 million lines of code, nobody in my house understands what that means or what level of effort it took to put that together.
I mean, I was happy for my buddy that he was happy about what he did as I’m sure others are happy for me. But not understanding what he had done made it difficult for me to be excited about it. I can be happy for him without being excited. And the same is true for others when it comes to my stuff. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t disappointing when others don’t share in the excitement with me but at least now I can better understand why that is.
Simply put, I cannot expect others to share the same level of excitement for my accomplishments when they don't understand the magnitudes of those accomplishments.