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Condensed

Life In A Neat Little Package

By Janis RossPublished 14 days ago 3 min read
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Condensed
Photo by Mildlee on Unsplash

"In three pages or less..."

"In one page or less...."

"In one sentence or less..."

It's amazing how many things in our lives are expected to be condensed into these short little pieces. How are we supposed to take years, months or decades of experience and distill it down to a bare minimum?

This can range from the seemingly innocuous icebreaker "What song best describes you?" to the more intense task of writing an obituary.

I had a few experiences recently that reminded me of the difficulty of this task.

First was in my writing. I recently finished the third draft of my latest novel, which means that I'll be doing a quick round of edits and then looking for beta readers - people who give feedback before a book is either sent to an agent or publisher or self-published. But in order for me to find readers who enjoy fantasy and might enjoy the story that I've written, I have to write a synopsis.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "She's written a whole novel, why is a synopsis hard?"

Dear reader, I've been asking myself the same question. I've resorted to googling an outline, which is already been helpful, but I still am finding myself struggling to summarize the important points succinctly (read: in as few words as possible). I was somewhat relieved to find that other writers on my Tiktok struggle with the same issue.

But it also made me think about other places in my life where I've had to condense things, such as my resume.

I recently updated my resume to keep it up to date. Because I've been working in the same field for so long, I hadn't needed to update my resume frequently. Because of this, I still had in my head that my resume had to be one page long. Since I've almost been a teacher for ten years, that was a lot to try and condense into one page. Thankfully a friend with more experience told me that three was what the standard, and I updated it. However, I still struggled to find the right words. I ended up getting a professional to overhaul my resume, and now everything fits in those three pages.

It's still wild to me that nine years of teaching all fit on three pages. Yet when I think back on those years, I have countless stories and experiences. Students from my first year who are now in college. Co-teachers and mentors who helped me to become a better teacher. Distance learning during COVID. Struggles to balance teaching and my personal life. Stories that could fill a book, and yet they're drilled down to a two-sentence blurb and three bullet points for each role.

Two of the people that I've lost within the past few years - my Grandmother and my friend from school - had obituaries written for their services. My grandmother was older, so hers was much longer. My friend from work was younger, but she had done so many things that I didn't know about. But from knowing them, I could see their impact on the lives around them was greater than what was able to be fully expressed in the small amount of writing given.

It's a reminder that you can't judge people by what little you see of them, whether it be in writing or on social media. People are forced to pick and choose what they share with the world, and it's often that we pick the things that make us look the best. But there can be a world of things that we don't see; private struggles, those character-building life events that aren't necessarily pleasant or something that we want shared.

Sometimes those things reveal themselves despite our best efforts, and those times remind us that everyone around us has their own things that they're dealing with - good or bad.

So I challenge you, reader, to take a step back. Don't take people at face-value; this condensing of our lives can leave out so many important details. If you can, take the time to explore the broader picture instead of only looking at the condensed version.

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About the Creator

Janis Ross

Janis is a fiction author and teacher trying to navigate the world around her through writing. She is currently working on her latest novel while trying to get her last one published.

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