Month: May 2016

Don’t talk it down

 

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I was talking to Emily the other day, and she was saying how much she is enjoying her job lately – she works at a little art gallery in Capitola Village, right by the beach near our hometown. The funny thing is, it took her a while to fully embrace it.

She said when she first started there, she kept thinking, “This is only temporary, it’s just a little job while I figure out what my Grown Up Job will be, or what I want to do with my life.” Then, when anyone asked what she did, she would tell them through that lens – “It’s not a forever thing, I’m working there while I look into other career paths and figure out what I want to do.”

Then, one day, she’s working in the gallery, and she just has a moment of happiness and fulfillment. She loves it there. She loves her job. She loves being by the beach and close to her home. Then she thought: Why do I keep acting like this amazing job is only temporary? The more she thought about it, the more she realized how it was perfect for her – she has an art degree and an eye for design and new trends – she’s great at sales and has sales experience – she has a flexible schedule in a beautiful town where it can be hard to find a job… There is nothing wrong with this picture.

Even if she had another job that didn’t line up with her background the way this one does, the bottom line is – if it makes her happy, that’s all that matters. Period.

Now, since she had this shift in how she viewed it, when she tells people about her job they react totally differently.

“What do you do?’

“I work in an art gallery in Capitola Village – I get to use my art degree and see the most amazing local pieces, and it’s just down the road from my house and across the street from the beach – I love it.”

People are all of a sudden walking away thinking, wow Emily has such a cool life! Rather than, well, Emily is still in a transition period right now, I hope she finds what she wants to do. Not that it matters what people think, but it makes Emily feel better to not talk her situation down, and people have a real picture of what’s actually going on. She liked her job this whole time, but realized she had this weird perspective on it for some reason. Once she allowed herself to love it because she loves it, not because of what it might mean on paper or compared to some Pinterest article, everything changed. Why can’t this job be a forever thing? Why act like you haven’t “made it”, when in reality, you have?

 

I had the same experience. When I moved to Santa Barbara, I figured I would work as a receptionist in a dentist’s office or something – I just wanted to live here. I had no idea there was a tech community, or that I would ever enjoy working in that world. Now I’ve been working in the industry for about 3 years, and I really like my job. However, since I got a master’s in sociology, it feels like a failure somehow to be working outside of what I went to school for, especially since I’m passionate about that subject. But I’m also passionate about living in Santa Barbara and having my own apartment and visiting family and friends. That’s what my job allows me to do, while challenging me and showing me new skills I didn’t know I had.

It took a long time for me to allow myself to be happy where I am in my career. I still have moments where I think, what the hell am I doing here? But most of the time I feel really lucky and accomplished.

Talking to Emily was a great reminder – what we say about ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s important to focus on where we are now and if it is making us happy, and to not judge our life by some standard that isn’t even important to us. What is more important to me – having a fancy title and making a certain amount per year, or having a flexible schedule, an amazing boss, and great benefits? It’s hard to remember to compare things with my own priorities, not someone else’s. Once I look at what I have accomplished and how it is making me feel, things start feeling better and better. I just need to allow myself to appreciate it, and not get sucked into a narrative (“work shouldn’t feel like work”; “if you’re not doing what you love, quit now”).

I recently went home to visit my family, and went with a couple of childhood friends to a local dive bar in town to catch up. I (of course) ran into a bunch of people from our graduating class that I haven’t seen in almost a decade – it was crazy.

I was chatting with one guy and he asked what I did. I said “I live in Santa Barbara and work at a tech company. I don’t know why I work in the tech industry, but I do! Haha!” (I may have had a beer or two.)

I have a hard time with being self-deprecating, so my knee-jerk reaction was to be like, “My job is so random, right?” instead of remembering how great it is.

His reaction was like, “Oh, bummer” basically. I was like, wait. Stop it. My job is awesome.

Then I remembered my conversation with Emily while I talked with someone else. They asked what I did. “I work in Santa Barbara at a software company. It’s pretty awesome – I get to travel sometimes and I really like it.” Totally different conversation – same job.

Isn’t it weird how we can sabotage ourselves? I need constant reminders.

So here is my challenge to both of us – don’t talk your shit down. Don’t be an asshole either, and brag all night about your life, but be truthful! If it makes you happy, it makes you happy! If it doesn’t, say that too – but don’t rob yourself of a good moment for no reason. Let’s start measuring our success on our own terms, and by what makes us happy – not what we think we should be doing.

 

Does this happen to you too? Maybe with another category of life? I would love to hear from other self-deprecators!

 

 

Who were you in high school?

 

I bought my tickets to my 10 year high school reunion you guys. What.

And I am surprisingly (and maybe unrealistically?) super pumped about it. I don’t know what my deal is, but I never thought I would be the person who would look forward to their high school reunion. Maybe in high school I wanted to relate to all the teen movie underdogs as the awkward quiet girl, so I saw myself that way – and that’s kind of how I still remember myself. I was chatting with my sister about it the other day and had this realization – the person I thought I was in high school wasn’t really who I was at that time, in reality.

That might sound confusing, but bear with me on this little rant…

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Do you have an image of who you were in high school? I feel like everyone is always shoving the stereotypes down our throats, and I at least still use the one I identified with at the time as a lens for all my high school memories. In my mind, I was quiet and shy, maybe a little awkward, and terrified of being embarrassed and being in the spotlight. I had a couple close friends at a time, and I was’t outgoing by any means. The whole time I was miserable and counting down the days until it was over.

When I actually thought about it, I realized that I am not only nothing like that now, but I also probably wasn’t really that way at the time either. I was probably pretty much who I am today, just way more insecure, and quite unhappy. (Which makes sense since, in my opinion, high school sucks. I was immediately happier in college, because, duh – living on my own and sex and beer and a whole new world.)

When I changed my perspective, I started to remember a lot of things that didn’t match my “quiet girl” persona. For example, I always remember staring out my algebra classroom window, wishing and fantasizing that I had a boyfriend to distract me from everything (did I mention I didn’t have my first kiss until spring of senior year? Like I said, unhappy). What I remembered recently though was that we always had an intense card game after that class with a big group of people and had a blast while pretty much distracting everyone else from doing their homework. Not exactly the quiet and shy and miserable existence I usually remember – I was the same social person I am today.

I also forget that I wasn’t completely terrified of being in the spotlight – we used to perform at rallies and I was the host of a lot of them in student government. Sure, I reluctantly participated, but I remember feeling confident enough and not completely losing my shit when I had to wing it or make fun of myself in front of the entire school. I usually had a good sized group of friends, and cute guys would come hang out at my house, and I was invited to parties… things were definitely not as bleak as I remember them when I dug a little deeper into the high school memory vault.

It’s hilarious, because I always tell my friend that she was one of the prettiest, most popular girls in school, and she always says I’m crazy. She probably has a similar story in her head about being under the radar or unnoticed, because I’m sure that’s how we all felt at that age, at least sometimes. But from my perspective she was this force of nature as a 16 year old, and I always wanted to be more carefree and influential like she seemed to be.

Looking back, I was doing just fine and being myself, considering my circumstances. I wish I could go back and tell my teenage self to:

  1. Chill the fuck out.
  2. Stop being so terrified of guys. They’re like spiders – more afraid of you then you are of them, right?
  3. You are adorable and you are going to love your freckles all of a sudden once you hit college, so just start rocking them now.
  4. Wear whatever you want.
  5. Yes, for the last time, he was flirting with you FOR CHRISTS SAKE.
  6. Have more fun, even if that means going out of your comfort zone.

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Do you have an image of who you were in high school, and do you think it was accurate? What would you tell your high school self if you could?

 

 

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