Greeting Card Dilemma
Change and social customs are both unavoidable parts of human life. That doesn’t mean you have to like them. They both can cause stupid, pointless stress that is difficult to understand.
“I know things change, but why is this change so difficult? I know people, and even sort of like people. Why do I get so nervous when required to participate in their rituals?”
Without change we would get bored, and without social customs we would all feel alienated. But these things are still stressful. To see this, all you have to do is consider the greeting card.
Why are they called greeting cards when they are almost always used to say goodbye? A friend moves away, or a colleague moves to a different job, and everyone is encouraged to sign a greeting card for them. This is a simple thing that always causes me worry.
I understand change is inevitable, but still don’t like it when people go away. People moving on is an event that conjures up emotions. I even worry a little when people I hate go away. Sure, I’ll be glad they are gone, but part of me will still miss them. Emotions are the worst.
Then, with my mind and my heart already compromised, I must go through the ritual of actually signing the greeting/going-away card. I know it’s not that big of a deal, but that doesn’t make it feel any less like a test.
Sometimes I try to get to the card early, before other people have gotten to it. This presents the problem of the blank slate. The card is so nice and pristine. There are no other signatures to show how big or small to write. No other signatures to tell me where to write. I could put my name anywhere, in any size! I could ruin the whole things with my giant signature. Or I could just leave an ugly little scribble in the corner. The freedom is paralyzing.
I wish instead of greeting cards we could all just agree to use a piece of lined paper. More like a guestbook than a greeting card. Then everyone can add their names to the list. It would be so much easier this way, but I don’t believe people would like it. Names on a list mean nothing to most people. But if you take those same names and spread them haphazardly around a card it suddenly becomes a touching gesture.
Signing cards for people gives me pointless stress, so sometimes I put it off until everyone else has signed it. This is no better than signing it first, because you have to see what everyone else wrote.
Sometimes people write great little messages, leave inspirational quotes, or produce cool drawings for the greeting card. These are the same people that stand in groups in parties and make jokes. I am the person who stand in the corner and thinks about jokes.
You might think this would make writing on cards easy, but you would be wrong. I never know what to write on greeting cards, especially when I know it will be compared to what everyone else wrote. I don’t want to be directly compared to the cool people. Greeting cards leave no other option.
I know it’s not a big deal for most people, and can even be pleasurable to some, but I hate signing cards for people. At the same time, I am a person who wants to participate in social customs. I feel bad when I don’t. I wish there was something I could write on all cards that would be appropriate for any situation. That way I could participate with less overall stress. So far, the perfect message has eluded me.
For a long time, I went with “Good Luck!” but this isn’t always appropriate. “Good Luck,” is a great message for someone who is moving. It is not so great a message for someone whose grandmother just died. Plus, it is a very common sentiment. If it is appropriate to write “Good Luck,” then someone else will write it, too. This means I am usually in competition with several other “Good Luck” writers. And they probably have better handwriting.
Then I tried for a while to just go with my signature. No message. This works ok, I guess, but it seems lacking. I don’t want to come across as cold or impersonal.
So I think I will try something new for a while. Whenever I am required to sign a card for someone, instead of putting myself under pressure to write a cool message, I am just going to write, “Hello.”
It is a greeting card after all.