When you find yourself in a new group setting, it’s a great opportunity to learn about yourself.
In the first week, I assumed my usual role in a group. I was that person who perform mundane tasks in silence. During the first week, I changed hundreds of scalpel blades for the entire class at the instrument station.
Each table were supposed to be responsible for taking care of the instruments, but there are always some who do it for everybody, and there are always some who just like to pick up a scalpel with a new blade. The first time I came up to the instrument station holding a scalpel with a dulled blade, I saw scalpels with new blades already there. I thought “Sweet!” and grabbed some back to my work station. The second time around I tried to change the blades by myself and I couldn’t do it. Somebody nearby showed me how to do it and still I had a great difficulty and struggled every time.
As a kinesthetic learner, the best way to learn is to do it. I decided to be the blade person in the group.
Drawing by Tam Tran Valenti
It is my way of introspection, grounding, taking a refuge from the group dynamics, or just to standing up and walking away from the work station. I create a safe place for me by assuming an unremarkable role. It is a way of hiding and anchoring at the same time.
Every time I felt tired, frustrated, or just lost concentration, I left my table and went to the instrument station and placed new blades on scalpels. My hand learned the subtle angle to slide a blade into the notch and the pressure needed to pull the blade out. At the end of the week, I was a quick and deadly blade changer.
Then the familiar pattern emerged.
I took dozens of “dirty” scalpels left to the sink to rinse them and found one scalpel with a blade still attached. The used blade was supposed to be removed and disposed into a medical waste container by the user. One person failed to do so and tossed the scalpel with a dulled blade into a pile of scalpels.
I could have cut my hands rinsing it.
I felt the familiar rage rising up from my gut. I felt disrespected and taken for granted. My historical anger dating back to the old days started to bubble up along with this particular anger. I’ve been there.
I caught it in time.
Nobody asked me to change the blades. It was not my job. I was doing because it served my purpose. Did I do it because I wanted to be appreciated and loved, desperately trying to fit in the group by being useful? Then it’s an old pattern. It won’t work.
I reassessed the situation. I’ve learned how to change blades expertly. I’m already an integral part of the group and feeling safe. I don’t need to hide. It doesn’t serve me anymore.
By 10th day I stopped being a blade changer of the entire group and only took care of my work station. When I came up to the instrument station to change MY blades, I saw one person struggling with the blade. I showed her how to change blades and left for my work station.
Now somebody else is changing blades for the entire group.
Every day is a good day to learn something.