The birthday post

Today is my birthday. I always become very introspective around this time every year. I suppose that’s a normal thing to do…reflect on the year. Consider what you’ve done or maybe haven’t done. This is probably compounded by the fact that my birthday is in December, the month when people begin to collectively do the same thing. It’s been a pretty good year. It’s been a busy year. I feel like this year kind of got away from me. That’s probably why I’ve been thinking about time and balance a lot lately. Things seem to move so quickly, and I don’t seem to have enough time (or energy) for all the things I want to do.  If you asked any supervisor I’ve had at any job, they would probably tell you I’m great at these things because they only know me as an employee. And I’m a damn good employee.

But what about all of the other ways I identify myself? That is where I get stuck, and I can only assume that many other people have the same struggle. I sometimes lose direction without the structure of being an employee, and that sucks. Even today, I took the day off work, and I laid in bed for at least an hour trying to decide what I wanted to do with my day only to find myself in a coffee shop with my laptop doing this. Don’t worry. I’m seeing Lady Gaga tonight, so it’s not an entirely lonely day.

Creativity and art, and having an outlet are important to me. That’s why I have this website and it’s really not very good if we’re being honest. That is also why I spend a lot of time observing the art and creative outlets of others. I admire it and am envious of their drive and talent that I have convinced myself don’t have. But there is so much more I want to do that I only think about because where would I fit it in the time that I have? If we’re talking about numbers alone, I probably have the time. It’s finding the energy that becomes the problem. If you’re an introvert, and you have a job that involves dealing with people all day everyday, you can likely relate. Working with the public is exhausting in general, but it’s a million times worse if you are a more introverted person. It drains you to the point, that you don’t have much left by the end of the day, and you look forward to the weekends because you can close the blinds, and watch an entire season of a TV show on Netflix and (this is key) speak to no one except maybe your cats. Harrison has a hard time understanding this. He likes to tell me that I’m the only person standing in my own way, which is true, sort of. But then it becomes a question of self-care. Do I sacrifice that for a while? I don’t know what the right answer is.

I’m a millennial. One thing that is true of millennials is that we crave meaningful work. I only find that to be true of my job a small part of the time. The rest of it is corporate bullshit, office politics, and “leaders” making shitty decisions.

I could get a new job, and believe me, I’m working on it. It’s hard to sell yourself with a piece of paper. It’s a cruel guessing game they play in HR departments everywhere. All of us are sending in these documents, hoping we used the right key words, so a computer will tell a human they should maybe take another look or call us or (holy shit) meet us in person. I hate every piece of that process.

In the meantime, I need to recalibrate the amount of energy I put into my job and shift it to other areas of my life. It is in my nature to work hard and care a lot, sometimes to the detriment of myself. I get it from my dad. Work, contribute to a 401K, retire happy. Minus the mountain of student loan debt that is going nowhere fast, I’m doing those things with about a C average. I have to start finding things that fulfill me. As I get older the regret starts creeping in, and I do not want to be on my death bed thinking about all of the things I wish I would have made time for. The happy retirement piece might be questionable if I keep going the direction I’m going.

This is a sad birthday blog. Sorry. I’m happy. But I’m trying to figure out how to be happier as I plant myself solidly in my 30s. Being an adult doesn’t have to be plagued by things you have to do but don’t really want to, right?

Work trip recap- when I did some serious #adulting

When I told my parents I was going to a conference for work, my stepmom’s response was, “That’s a very grown-up thing.” I think my parents forget that I’m almost 30 and that I occasionally partake in grown-up things. You know… like have a functional relationship with my live-in boyfriend, pay rent, care for pets, contribute to a 401k… shit like that. I don’t know this this will have anything to do with the rest of this post (I’m winging it). I mostly thought it was a hilarious response.

Since I am an “adult,” I (maybe selfishly) used this trip as an opportunity to work towards finding some answers for myself about a few things– not only about my “career,” but some other recent life developments. Sometimes, simply being away from home and by yourself can provide fresh perspective.

Can you tell the words “adult” and “career” make me a little uncomfortable?

One of the presentations I went to while I was at this conference was about fear and the role it plays in different parts of our lives, not just work. This one hour presentation forced me to look at some things I had been going back and forth on in my mind, and ask myself if the direction I was leaning in either of these situations had to do with my own fear or if it was something else. I’m trying not be too long-winded about my boring life, but maybe this will help someone.

Situation 1) I was presented with the opportunity to sing in a band, but after going to a rehearsal to try it out, I was really leaning away from it. I had to ask myself if this was because I was scared of doing something I hadn’t done in a very long time and was out of my comfort zone.

Situation 2) My manager at work told me that she thinks I should apply for a leadership training program. My immediate reaction was that I would absolutely not do it. I had to ask myself the same question.

I came to different conclusions for each of these situations. My biggest aversion from being in this particular band was not a fear of not being able to do it. I knew I could do it, and I knew I could do it well. I just didn’t want to. My biggest fear was that saying no would let some people down, but ultimately, I knew that saying yes would put me in a situation where I was dragging myself to rehearsal every week to sing cover songs that, for the most part, I find annoying. The saxophone player would continue to ask me for rides and would not reciprocate if I needed the same. I love singing, and I miss performing. But this wasn’t the right outlet for me.

In the second scenario, that was definitely fear. I’ve spent a lot of time at my job trying to fade into the background and not be noticed. I work hard to do well, but I tend to avoid risks or putting myself out there in ways like leadership opportunities. So, the day I got back to work after the trip, I asked my manager for the application.

I felt a sense of optimism at the end of that week. I felt a new sense of legitimacy in the work I do everyday, while also recognizing where my particular employer is behind. I also felt a new sense of confidence in myself and my ability to work through decisions and the anxieties I have that sometimes stop me from doing things that could benefit me.

I’m afraid a lot. I have hard time with new people at times, and I have serious fear of screwing up or sounding like an idiot. Letting that control me, I’ve realized, is a really good way to become stagnant in life and work. As much as I love and cling to stability and routine, doing the same shit all the time sounds real boring, and being an adult can be really fun and sometimes even exciting if you let it.

Hooray for being a grown-up!