I know I didn’t write last week. Between internship and exams…I’m struggling. But I’m here now.
To oversimplify the past two weeks, I have been to two weddings and had two exams. The exams I don’t want to talk about until I get the results but I do have some reflections from the weddings.
Before that though, I want to brag for a second and share a complement someone paid me this week. I was doing a magazine review and after showing one of the facilitators some of my work, he said I am “the truth” and actually stand a shot with going into advertising. *blush emoji* Comments like those are honestly so uplifting and encouraging to me. So thank you Joel.
Okay so the first wedding was on the 29th of April, between a Ugandan and Kenyan. They were such a fun loving couple and the groom was one of the few genuinely interested and enthusiastic grooms I’d seen. They had been co-habiting for years and already had a child, but there love seemed like that of a fresh couple. Goals.
On the morning of the wedding, I found out that my mother had gone behind my back and done something I very much would’ve preferred she did not do. I felt embarrassed and mostly angry because she hadn’t said anything to me and I had to find out through someone else. In the moment, I was flared up and caught in my emotions, so an attempted conversation between the two of us wasn’t very respectful or successful, mostly when she became upset as well. Now, after a calm conversation and the oh-so underestimated power of hindsight, I understand where she was coming from, and realize it wasn’t too big of a deal anyway. I’m ashamed of my inability to recognize these things at the time, but boy I was upset. So I spent the remainder of the morning with a big frown on my face, looking like I was about to explode, and not wanting to talk to anyone.
Until the church service when my cool and wise mentor Max told me simply to “let it go” atleast for the duration of the wedding and we would address it later. Now normally this is the over-simplistic and unrealistic advice that annoys me but in this instance it actually worked! I realized I was choosing to hold on to my anger and annoyance. And for whatever reason, probably seeking comfort, I was also choosing to display it on my face. When she told me to let it go, I took a deep breath out and decided not to let her (mom) ruin my day. This was after all, my second Blush wedding and I was darn determined to enjoy it. I didn’t, but atleast I was determined to.
I want to improve my ability to put perspective on things when I am caught up in the moment because darn, perspective has power. What matters today likely wont matter the same way in a week’s time, let alone a year. The power of hindsight. I don’t want to minimize things that affect me, but I think this would assist me in becoming a little less of a drama queen and doing things I’ll regret ten minutes later. This is probably what my brother has been preaching to me all these years.
The second wedding that I shot last weekend (May 6th) was between a lovely Ugandan bride, Doreen, and her bae Patrick. This day was fun and I learnt quite a lot. Also, I got to experience firsthand the power that letting go of expectations can have. If you stop expecting certain things from somebody, fervently hoping against all hope that these expectations come to pass and projecting ideas of who you think they are or want them to be and simply just let them be…then you can actually learn what the real person is like. And even form a beautiful friendship with them.
But that was not the most interesting thing I found out at Patrick and Doreen’s wedding. I found out how it feels to be invisible and the need for appreciation.
Now I am undoubtedly a very privileged person. I have both my parents, assured meals and shelter, and I am so fortunate to be receiving the best quality education one can get in Uganda. So many a time, I find myself on the receiving end of different services. Whether it’s cleaners, waitresses, or teachers, I get to benefit from the hardwork of others, regardless of whether I am offering them money in exchange for it or not (will talk more about that later). But during the weddings, I get to switch positions and be on the other side, whereby I’m the one providing the service. My mind does not change modes as fast as my body does, and I feel no different a person than I would if I were a wedding guest as opposed to just an assistant photographer. But that’s not how everyone sees it. I find myself striking up conversations with the bridal parties like they are my friends and get weird looks in return. Or I expect people to speak to me and treat me with the same respect I receive say, at school, but that also isn’t the case. To them, I’m the just the little girl in a white shirt holding the bags. Bumping into people from school makes that an even more awkward situation. Last weekend, one of the main photographers introduced me to the wedding MC, who is one of the biggest Ugandan TV and radio personalities. I was introduced as “Aidah, the intern” and the look and acknowledgement I received couldn’t have contained any more disinterest. I looked at him as I was being introduced, he nodded his head, but barely acknowledged me and looked at me like I didn’t have any worth. Not even when I smiled and said I enjoy his radio show did his stance change. My heart sank a little to be honest, and I wondered whether his reaction would have been the same if he had met me at GEMS, dressed in my suit and representing the school. That’s why when, after smiling at her and expressing my congratulations, the bride smiled back at me and asked my name, I felt a boost of love. I started to determine people’s niceness on whether or not they asked my name. Now I don’t blame or demonize those who didn’t, because Lord knows we are all guilty of that.
During the speeches part of the wedding, the groom seemed to thank and express his gratitude to all his service providers except for the media team. But earlier in the day, as we were leaving the gardens after the photo-shoot, the pregnant maid in honor said a simple “thank you” to us, saying we were awesome. This warmed up my inside in such a nice way and being the over reactive weirdo that I am, I replied with “ooohh, that’s so nice. Thank youuuu.”
This week I watched the Hank Green video titled ‘Sick and Tired’, where he talked about his appreciation deficit theory. He believes that by turning all transactions into something that can be quantified with money, we have lost the ability to transfer un-measurable value. What he means is that money alone is not appreciation for the work people do. Money is simply compensation. And as an intern, I don’t even receive that financial compensation, which makes the thank you all the more important. I’ve always been one of those people that believe that as long as one is being paid a fair amount for the work they do, nothing else is required. But humans need to know that they are valued and appreciated. We need to break the societal norms of how we interact with each other and let other people know that we are actually grateful for the things they do. John Green talked about the magic of an ordinary thumbs up, a breaking of the norm where someone is actually saying, “I see you and I think you are doing a positive thing.”
The reason this affected me so much is because I realized how I had been making other people feel probably my whole life. This year, our Literature teacher told us how amazing a reaction it can elicit when we call say, a waiter by their actual name or say a quick hello to a cleaner. At the time, I didn’t feel too guilty because in my opinion, I do try and treat everyone with according respect but now I really acknowledge the importance of humanizing people. Too often, I sidestep cleaners, or people that society has deemed lower on the ladder because of circumstances that are usually beyond their control.
May that too often turn to no more.
SONG OF THE WEEK: Slide by Frank Ocean and Calvin Harris