On Patience

Dear Patience, 

As I write this to you I find myself feeling defensive, frustrated, and tried. My shoulders are  tense and my jaw is tight. But I’m not upset with you, Patience. You are virtuous and not to blame. Our relationship is fraught because of me and my reluctance to trust you. My life will be a lesson in learning to appreciate your value. 

When I was a child my mother scolded me for being too quick with my actions. My first boss told me to hold back on sending my emails. My ex-husband urged me to think before I spoke. My girlfriends still tell me to slow down when I meet a potential partner. Yet, time and time again, my haste makes waste. I have always been in a hurry, and I’ve exhausted myself with this arbitrary and constant rush for Arrival. I want my love story. I want my career success. I want my summer house in Beacon and a fridge full of organic food.

The more I live, the more I understand that there is no Arrival. There is no ending other than death. Everything else is just a moment in time, a piece of the story, and a chance to begin again. As I embrace you and your ways, I can see there is a deep comfort in living a life of Patience. Good things always come to me when I have the presence of mind to take a moment before speaking, take a breath in an argument, or just be still.

My enthusiasm for life is charming, but it’s also dangerous. Are there jobs I have taken because I was tired of looking? Yes. Men I’ve stayed with because I didn’t want to be single? Absolutely. More and more I see what you have been trying to tell me the whole time! If I just wait a second, life will bring me where I need to go. It’s preparing me and it’s guiding me. 

So now I’m left sitting here with my coffee. A woman so firmly in adulthood that she is reflecting on the importance of restraint. What more could signal maturity than reverence for forbearance? What I have to do now is to let go and allow the things I cannot control to unfold as they may. I need to let you take me where you have always been taking me.

But now we are getting into my relationship with Trust. Which is a whole different letter. 

With growing affection, 

Amanda 

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Who Sucked Out the Feeling?

In 1996, when I was about 13 years old, I purchased Superdrag’s Regretfully Yours album in Westfield, New Jersey. I was with my best friends at the time, Kelly and Diana.  I think it was a Sam Goody or a Coconut Records. The CD was packaged in one those oversized plastic containers that made them hard to steal.

I was really excited about the purchase. I didn’t have a lot of disposable cash, so an album was actually kind of a big deal. I had heard the album’s most popular song, Sucked Out, on the radio a few times and I was VERY excited to have the ability to listen to it ALL the time. (This was before streaming, kids.) I tucked the album into my quintessential 90’s canvas-army-green-cross-over bag and carried on with my life.

Fast forward to my junior year of college. It’s 2003 and I am at a theater party celebrating the close of a recent run of The Heidi Chronicles. I didn’t work on the show, but I was heavily involved in the club so it was normal for me to be there. The party was in a campus apartment. The residents had built, by hand, a full wooden bar in their living room. I was bartending with one of my friends and having a grand ol’ time. My friend, Matt, was hitting on my roommate. No surprise there because my roommate, Maggie, was stunning and charming. But she had other ideas. She mentioned to Matt that I, like him, was a huge fan of the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas and obscure 90’s alternative music. This was a seemingly harmless move.

When he heard I liked 90’s alternative music, it was a “challenge accepted” moment. I remember playing a “trivia” game as we poured our friends disgustingly sweet drinks loaded with cheap alcohol. One of us would name a song, and the other had to name the corresponding band. I ended up winning because of Superdrag. On his turn he said to me “Who Sucked Out the Feeling?”, and I responded “Superdrag. And the song wasn’t called Who Sucked Out the Feeling? It was called Sucked Out.” He smiled and looked impressed. I had won! That was the first time he asked me to marry him. (I told him I would think about it.)

That night ended up being a big deal. It was the first of many, many nights my now ex-husband and I would share together. That moment was coming for us, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

As we all sit at home in quarantine, with our lives on hold, we have time to think. One thing that I keep mulling over is that nothing is really ever on hold. I bought that CD in 1993, and with the knowledge gained from that listening experience ten years later I caught the attention of someone who would play a huge role in my life. We were careening towards our destiny.

I think we have some level of free will in this life. And I think that is on balance with a path we are destined to walk. Lessons we have been put here to learn. Connections we will make. You might take the long road or the short road, but you’re going to get there. You don’t have to force it. You only need to show up. You only have to be open to what is waiting for you, and open to the idea that none of it will be as you expected.

I hope this comforts you as it comforts me. Our lives are not being wasted right now. Whatever pain this pandemic is bringing you, it is not for nothing. Maybe you are connecting with yourself, your family, or a hard truth. Maybe you are reading a book that will help you land a job in a few months. Maybe this is forcing you to reevaluate what matters to you, helping you build a happier life in the future.

I don’t know what your path is, but I know that nothing will ever stop it. Keep surviving, keep trusting. Time will tell us all we ache to know.

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A Sunday in Ordinary Time

I grew up Catholic, and in Christianity there is a calendar called the Liturgical Calendar. The calendar includes different time periods like Advent (Christmas), Lent (Easter), and also something called Ordinary Time. Lately, when people ask how I am doing, this idea of Ordinary Time immediately pops into my head.

I would say that, on the whole, I have lived a blissfully normal and ordinary life! I think my experience is relatable. I’m a very basic 36 year old woman living in Park Slope, and I embrace that. I’m not a rock star, and have no plans to be one. I find myself in a curious position. A time of stillness. An Ordinary Time.

I get up, make coffee, and I go to work. Maybe I go to yoga. I’m often in bed by 10:30pm. It’s certainly not dull! I adore my friends and I deeply like my work. I enjoy my dance classes and my COOP shift. I have hobbies! At the same time, there is more quiet in my life than there has been in years. More nights alone roasting vegetables in my kitchen and then curling up with a book. More sleepy Sundays where I don’t put on makeup and only leave the house for boxing class. There are less texts to go out drinking. There are less exotic Instagram posts.

Nothing is wrong. And at the same time I struggle to just be here.

I worked really hard for this Ordinary Time. It took years to find a job that pays well and that I enjoy. It took years to learn how to go on dates without also going on an inner-crisis-cruise. It look years for me to make friends in my neighborhood. It took SO MUCH WORK to have this stillness. Now that I am here… why am I a little disturbed by the peace?

Perhaps with Ordinary Time comes the knowledge that your existence is not special. The life blueprints you drew up when you were 20 do not match what you have built. You are just like everyone else, and instead of being upset by that you find relief in it.

There is also discomfort stemming from the tiny nuggets of work left to be done. I have time to think and to self-reflect. There is a lot of NOISE in all this quiet! My mind sometimes races inward examining all the things in my life that could be better, and that is not always pleasant or easy. I’m in a good place, but I could love myself more. I could be a better listener.

I’ve started chipping away at this quiet work. I appreciate the simple things in life. I am grateful. I am excited to be spending time with my friends and family. I am happy to be resting, eating well, and occasionally writing this blog. My hope is that, day by day, the noise will quiet. Then, I will no longer have to spiral inward or seek external reward. I can just be here, appreciating the world (and my life) as it is.

I want to learn to love the ordinary and to stop searching for a more vanity-filled existence. Ordinary is better than most people ever get. I think it’s on us to find the causes for joy and celebration in each moment. Because really, this life is quite extraordinary.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Today I texted a bitter and pious message about dating to a man I have never met. Here is the sequence of events:

  1. We had been chatting on a dating app (Hinge, for those in the game).
  2. He asked for my number.
  3. We started light texting and began scheduling a date.
  4. He vanished.
  5. He unmatched me.
  6. I saw RED and started texting.

Our exchange was honest, brief, and unpleasant. Did he deserve my anger and frustration? A little, yes. What he did was rude and selfish. Was it possible that my hurt feelings were more about the man I was seeing before him that ghosted? And the 10+ dates I’ve been on this year that were duds or downers? A little, yes. What I did was rude and selfish.

On reflection, a few weeks ago a man on Hinge yelled at ME for disappearing on HIM. I didn’t like something he said so I just stopped answering. I was no longer interested. I am (gasp!) part of the problem. I think perhaps the single people of New York have reached a point where treating each other like items we added to our Amazon carts (while totally drunk) is taking its toll.

These events are coming on the heels of a fight I had with a loved one. I have also just celebrated the fourth anniversary of my husband walking out on me. I think we can all agree perhaps the venom I spat at the man from Hinge this morning was both valid and misplaced.

I’ve been feeling emotional for a few weeks, and I’ve been working to sit with those feelings to try and understand them. There is a theme here and it’s a tricky one. I think it boils down to you cannot make people accept your love. You can wrap your love up in a bow and leave it for them on their doorstep. You can tuck your love in a note and place it in a book of poems. You can wrap your love in paper that is their favorite color. And they can deny the gift. And they are perfectly within their right to do so.

When your love, romantic or otherwise, is rejected it is painful. It’s often jarring and opens up other wounds you thought were closed. With the rejection, we don’t get the connection we’re seeking, and we feel a hole where we made space for that love.

What I think the really gnarly part is, is that we do it to other people all the time. We reject men/women. We replace friends. We abandon jobs. We are the worst.

What I want us all to pause and think about is… how can we be a loving person who is good to the people in our lives that we do NOT care about. How do we talk softly to the person at the grocery who is screaming? How do we take the three minutes to tell someone on Hinge, look… I changed my mind, but best wishes? How do we listen to people understanding that they may have things to tell us that we do not want to hear?

Honestly, I think we do it together. What I said to the man from Hinge today stands. I get that this is the game and the world we live in today. And at the same time, I think we could all stand to do better. I hope you find everything you are looking for. Good luck out there.

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Take Care

The only constant in life is change. For better or for worse, there are some chapters in our lives that seem to have extra change. I’ve just had one of those chapters with my career switch and my divorce. Since the spring, I have noticed that a new chapter is beginning. I’m … like… happy!

I know that I was able to arrive in a better place partly because of my self-care practices. I have explored a lot healthy habits to combat the stress and exhaustion I experienced over the last few years. Self-care is something we hear about, and I think it’s actually quite different for everyone. Today I’d like to share with you what makes up my personal definition and routine.

#1: Build a Community
I  could not have survived the last three years without the support of my friends and my family. They listened to me, empathized, sympathized, cried, laughed, and got absolutely wasted with me when the situation called for it. I learned that it’s not a negative thing to lean on people and let them help. If you allow others to show up for you, they may surprise you.

Local community activities also makes me feel less alone. I joined my food COOP, attended church, took a pottery class, joined a Dungeons & Dragons team, and participated in a moon circle. Being with people and talking with them is an active way to feel connected to others while also exploring your wants and needs. You don’t have to do anything special! You only need to meet people and be open to what they have to teach you. The things and people that are meant to “stick” will do so organically. You’ll also have some fun, which is kinda key to making it through rough times.

#2 Call in the Professionals
In addition to my communities, I talk to a therapist. I can’t say enough about this experience! She helps me understand my feelings and articulate my boundaries. Even if you are well adjusted and not depressed, you are living a busy and complicated life. Why would you not want an objective third party to validate your experiences and feelings? To give you tools for improvement? To help you navigate uncomfortable waters? Trust me. A therapist will support you in a refreshing way, and can be there for you as often or as little as you like.

#3: Study Peace & Joy
Obviously I try to fix everything with books! There are a few I have read that had a message that stuck with me for one reason for another. If you just don’t know what to do with your frustrations, try reading what an expert has to say about it.

  • When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  • The Untethered Soul The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
  • The Universe has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein
  • The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
  • Difficult Conversations by Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen

#4: Practice, Practice, Practice
Self care is self love. It’s not selfish to make yourself a priority. If you don’t love yourself and treat yourself with respect, why should other people? Here are the foundations of my healthy routine:

  • Move
    We have all heard 1,000 times that we need to exercise on a regular basis. Making time to run, swim, walk, or attend a fitness class is key to you overall health. For me, my go-to is yoga. I try to do this every day even if it’s only 15 minutes in the morning.
  • Rest
    Sleep is another critical part of overall health. Reprioritize it if you’re missing out on rest. Practice good bedtime rituals like putting your phone away and journaling. Talk to your doctor if you just can’t get any shut eye.
  • Eat
    I’m not a nutritionist and I’m not going to tell you how to eat. From my own experience, I know that eating well always makes me feel well. In the spring I worked with my doctor to make sure I was getting enough nutrients. With professional medical support, I tried the Whole30 and a few dietary changes that helped with my digestive issues and even my anxiety. Work with your doctor to see if this is an area you can improve.
  • Write
    I will never get over how good it feels to write things down! Is Brenda at work driving you insane? Is your girlfriend obsessed with how you load the dishwasher? Is your neighbor always tap dancing in the wee hours of the night/morning? Journaling will not make these things stop, but it will provide a release. (You can even physically throw away the pages if you live in fear of someone reading your inner thoughts.)
  • Breathe
    Meditation is really hard for me, and at the same time the results are noticeable. There are many shapes, sizes, apps, and classes to help. Meditation can help you be more present with the people you interact with and with your own feelings. What’s not to love?
  • Drink… Coffee
    I drank a lot of alcohol in college and in my twenties. I also live in a city where most outings with friends and first dates begin with…meeting for drinks! And while I enjoy the odd night out and a yummy red wine, I’m generally over drinking. It amplifies my negative feelings and anxiety, impacts my sleep, and it is expensive. It’s the first thing that goes when my self-care routine is being prioritized.

So, there you have it. A long list of habits adopted, books read, and lessons learned over the past three years. I’m not a professional and these may not be for you. Trust yourself and talk to a doctor if you are feeling unwell or depressed. I hope some of these help you take the first step towards a happier and more authentic life.

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“Your crown has been bought and paid for. All you have to do it put it on.”

~ James Baldwin

It’s About Time

Do you ever sit and wonder about the passing of time? Of course you do! It’s a fascinating thing, time. We are constantly bound by it, we measure everything by it, and it’s the most valuable thing we can spend. Yet, we can’t own it and we can’t save it up. We can lose it all in a moment. It’s unwieldy and it moves strangely and there is never enough.

There are studies explaining why times “moves faster” as we get older. There are theories about different ways other lifeforms may experience time that we can barely wrap our minds around. We have pop culture references galore to talk about at parties. There is an endless supply of stuff to fuel this conversation.

Why are humans so into this? I think these things appeal to us because we seek a way to understand time. Why can second grade feel just as far away as 2010? Why can some moments drag on for what feels like eternity and others flash by? Why is it so out of our control? How do we handle the fear of not wasting this precious thing?

Just to be clear: I have no idea. I go to work, I go to yoga, I see my friends, and time passes. Another holiday and another birthday goes by, and things are largely the same. I don’t have major milestones on the horizon. No countdown to a graduation or a wedding or a due date. Everything just kind of is, and there is no urgency. Are there things I look forward to? Sure. Are there things I want to do before the ol’ RIP? Obviously. At the same time… the month and the day and the hour mean less and less as I get older. And the idea of a non-linear timetable makes more sense.

A friend of mine once told me that he sees life as a mosaic. All our experiences blended into one picture that tells a cohesive story. It makes sense. We know what we perceive as happiness, loss, abundance, and emptiness. We know that things are always moving and changing and somehow seem to fall into place. To us, it’s all muddled together.

What if this is the better way to observe time? What if we toss the neat timeline of events for a messy cluster of happenings that tell a larger story? I certainly prefer the latter! If everything ends up mixed it adds meaning to the mundane and the painful parts of our lives. It reframes time we see as wasted or misspent as foundational pieces to a really beautiful picture. Comforting, right?

By now you are thinking something along the lines of… “You’re freaking me out! What’s the point of this blog post, Amanda?” I don’t really have a point I suppose. You know as much as I do about time. Kisses go quickly and office meetings last 100 years. The hour spent whitewater rafting in Switzerland has a bigger impact than 10 hours of therapy. And we spend a lot time cleaning the bathroom on Friday nights waiting for these charged moments to arrive.

We should all think more about how we spend our time. The goal for all of us should be the same. We should strive to have a lifetime of moments that fly by because our hearts are full and we are having fun. After all, isn’t that the point?

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“Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.” ~ Lewis Carroll

Oh My, Dia!

Last weekend a few friends and I went up to Beacon to celebrate my 35th birthday. It was so fun to spend the day with my nearest and dearest trying out new things and seeing new places. Here’s a review of our winter visit upstate!

We met in Grand Central and took the Metro North up to the Beacon train station. Our first stop? The Dia! Walking distance from the train, the Dia Beacon is a modern art museum housed in an old Nabisco box factory. If you visit, you will see some of the Dia’s collection from the 60s through to current day. I was originally excited about it because it features a lot of sculpture.

We spent the early afternoon exploring the exhibits. (My favorite part was Homage to the Square!) The space itself is massive and the experience through the museum can only be described as meandering. After getting lost a couple times, it was explained to us that this is by design! So, make sure you have a map of the floor plan to ensure you don’t miss anything.

After the museum, we headed into town to visit Hudson Valley Brewery  which offered some nice beer selections and had a little kitchen in the corner to satisfy your beer munchies. A note to newcomers, the brewery is tucked back in a parking lot slightly off the main drag of the town, so don’t worry if your GPS seems to be pulling you into a vacant lot. You’re going the right way.

Next we went back onto Main Street and we got lunch at the The Vault, where I had one of the most satisfying cheese burgers of my life! They also  offered a pretty impressive beer selection, including the seldom seen Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine. The staff was friendly and let us hang out, and the lunch was topped off with a pretty awesome birthday dessert!

Our last stop for the day was The Beacon Hotel where we found a lovely drink list complete with yummy red wines, ciders, and beers. The bar here was really lively and was a great evening scene and a perfect date night spot.

Getting back to the train was just a quick Uber ride to the station. The ride into Manhattan is less than two hours, so it is just the right amount of “far away” for a day trip. Beacon is one of my favorite towns on the Hudson. You can hike, drink, see some art, and do a little shopping. If you are looking for a cheap and easy escape from the city… make Beacon your first stop!

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Confessions of a Talk-a-holic

I am an extremely talkative person. Gregarious to the point that some have wondered aloud “How many words do you think you say in a minute?” (I am too afraid to estimate or keep track of this data.)  I have always been this way, and I believe I always will be.

I struggle deeply with this part of my personality. It gets me into trouble. I unintentionally offend people. It can leave people feeling unheard. It is also, in many ways, a gift! I can create conversation where there is none. Fill the void  for people that struggle to communicate. And I’m pretty darn funny sometimes!

I think we all have defining aspects of our personalities that we love/hate. Recently, I have been thinking about what tactics have helped me successfully hone this part of my personality, rather than drown it out. If you share this struggle, or wonder what it’s like to have lot to say… here are my top 5 tactics for being a mindful talker:

#1: Questions are the Answer

One thing that makes my logorrhea upsetting to me is that I don’t leave enough room for other people to speak. THIS IS NOT ON PURPOSE. I can attend a party, be a chatterbox, and then spend the next 3 days thinking about how I talked too much and didn’t learn anything new about the people there. I ruin the associated memories in my head. It’s really quite sad and seldom represents what actually happened.

So what to do? Ask questions. I am working to really hear what someone is saying to me, and to ask relevant questions. Even if I end up interjecting as they answer (I’m sorry!) I am ensuring that the person I am talking to A) knows that I have this question B) is able to participate meaningfully in the conversation and C) can share something they care about with me. It forces me to listen in a way that feels genuine.

#2: Say Thank You

Do you know what’s worse than someone who talks too much? Someone who talks to much and then apologizes 100 times for talking too much! I am so very guilty of this. It’s not only annoying, but I have found that it can actually hurt people’s feelings. Who are we to assume that someone in your life is not perfectly happy to listen to you talk about your bad day at work for an hour? Maybe they LIKE listening! The person you are communicating with would not be there at all if they were not invested in you and the events of your life.

How to break the cycle? Say thank you instead of sorry. Replace “I am the worst for talking your ear off.” with “I really appreciate you listening.” It allows the listener to know that you acknowledge your words AND also their participation in the conversation. It also leave rooms for them to say something like “Oh, it’s your turn. Have I got a story for YOU.” I’ve found it can be a really organic way to balance out a conversation, without anyone feeling like a burden.

#3: Words are Friends

I remember the year I tried to talk less as a New Year’s resolution. I was telling friends about it, and one of them was so upset! “You being talkative is one of my favorite things about you.” He said. It had not occurred to me until that moment (in my early thirties) that being a talker could be a positive thing. It was a new idea to think being a talkative person wasn’t bothering anyone. That maybe, just maybe, it was entertaining (or even a relief) to someone else in the room. I had only ever considered it from the perspective of someone to whom words come easily.

The truth is, I talk a lot because I love to share. I want you to know me! If you are brave enough to tell people when you are sorry, when you are upset, and when you care for them… be proud of this. If this is the way you express love and pain to others, it’s important to learn how to close your mouth without closing your heart.

#4: Pause and Listen to Yourself

People who talk a lot say the wrong things a lot. The words are out before our brains edit them. It really sucks. My advice on this front is that when the tiny voice in your head says “maybe don’t say that”… DO NOT SAY WHATEVER IT IS!

Trust your gut. If you want to say something and any part of you is unsure about the time, place, or topic … bite your tongue! Put some bread in your mouth! Pause, and give yourself a minute to internally edit, tweak, or altogether remove the comment from the conversation. You may save yourself and others a lot of stress.

#5: Let.It.Go

If you are like me, then you will have days where you word vomit. Probably you will be nervous or excited or a little drunk in that moment. Something will tumble out and you won’t be able to do anything about it. You might even drag a good friend or significant other into a mess because of your foot-in-mouth disease.

Well, you’ve gone and done it again! You’ve been a human. You’ve been imperfect. And you need to let it go. You simply cannot be a better listener if you are obsessed with your words. You need to notice your words, you need to evaluate them, and you need to work on them. You should never use them with ill-intentions. And you really need to forgive them (and yourself) when things go wrong.

The best gift you can give someone is really hearing them. Keep coming back to that when you are talking to people, and they will enjoy talking with you. Do this while being kind to your chatty little heart.

Oh, and hey… Thank you for listening.

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“A Self That Goes on Changing…”

A little over a year ago, I left publishing to explore project management in digital ad sales. I had been toying with the idea of changing careers for years. I was ready for something new, and also hesitant to walk away from what I had already accomplished. Inertia and fear keep a lot of us in jobs that aren’t right for us. We put so much emphasis on our careers and it becomes part of how we see ourselves in the world. We are afraid to disrupt that mental image and we are, of course, afraid to fail.

I had been successful in publishing, and was invested both personally and professionally. I was promoted regularly and had been made a Director. I had a team, which allowed me to help other people with their goals (something I truly loved). I worked on high-profile projects and had cool perks like travel and a corporate card. I also had dear friends that I got to see everyday! At the same time, I wasn’t finding satisfaction. I thought a lot about what was missing, and it came down to the fact that I had become an “answers” person within my group. I wanted to be the person asking questions again.

Deciding what to do next was both overwhelming and easy. There were countless choices, and only so many places that would hire someone from an outside industry. I decided to roll the dice and started applying to any job that looked remotely interesting. I was particular with things like salary, location, and company profile. I was totally flippant with other aspects like industry and job title. I thought…don’t over think!

So, in November 2016 I took a project management job at a software development company. About a year after that I accepted another new project management job at a larger entertainment company. It’s been a whirlwind of change! And this after 11 years of being in my cozy publishing world where I knew the landscape, players, and rules. Suddenly, a clever quip involving an obscure Franz Kafka reference would not get me out of a jam! There was so much to learn. It was humbling and empowering, and here are my four top takeaways.

#1: It’s Very Hard

Your initial reaction to me saying “it’s hard to change careers” might be a roll of the eyes, or even an audible “duh”. Don’t misunderstand! I anticipated that this would be a challenge professionally. I was prepared for acronyms I didn’t understand and asking embarrassing questions in meetings. What I was NOT prepared for was the emotional strain the situation created.

A little background: I am not a shy person. I am a confident, loud, outspoken person. These steadfast traits were shaken to the core when I started in a new industry. I was regularly nervous for the first time in years, afraid to speak up sometimes, and hyper aware of everyone and their (probably imagined) reactions to everything I did and said.

Why all the feelings? My self-confidence was thrown! I was no longer a big-cheese at a company where I knew how to contribute meaningfully. Instead, I was a pion in a game I didn’t yet know how to play. I kept reminding myself that I had done this on purpose and my broad goals were being achieved. (After all… I was learning! Growing! Meeting all kinds of new people!) And yet, I could not fight the simple fact that it was all utterly exhausting. To get through it, I had to learn to be kind to myself and embrace the discomfort. I had to learn to let things go, and just keep trying.

#2: It Requires Patience

If you know me (and reading this blog, you probably do) then you know I have no patience. I move quickly (hence, clumsy), speak quickly (hence, talkative), and I get excited about things and forget to be still. Much to my chagrin, the only thing that made my career change more fulfilling was TIME. I conceptually understood that I would not make life-long friends and be promoted on day one. Still, when you are living in limbo-land the last thing you want to hear is “it takes time” and “wait and see”. The truth is though, all this advice is grounded in reality. If you decide to uproot the career you have nurtured, it’s going to take time for it to thrive elsewhere.

This process also required a lot of patience with myself, and that did not come naturally. I generally expect excellence from my career 100% of the time. I forgive other people of pretty much everything, and myself almost nothing. I really had to let go of this over the last 14 months to avoid going completely insane! I’m still learning to embrace the chaos and the unknown, and the simple fact that I will totally screw up sometimes because I am in a state of transition. I remind myself (constantly) that mistakes are proof that I am trying.

#3: It’s Rewarding

So what happened that first year? I asked a lot of questions, Googled terms I didn’t know, and just kept going back in to work. Eventually I started doing things that contributed to the group. The first time someone told me that my work had helped move a project along I felt invincible! It was worth the unpleasant learning moments. It was also fun to see what skills I already possessed that were valuable in unexpected ways in a new environment.

It also got EASIER. When I started my current job I was definitely nervous, but not nearly as nervous as the year before. It’s because I knew I could do it and I was building on skills and acquired information. The momentum of my new career had been building, and I could feel it.

#4: It’s Only for Now

We are rarely trapped in a job or industry that no longer serves our emotional or financial needs. This is especially true in New York where there are so many interesting companies and ideas. You can succeed in multiple industries. You can fail at something and then apply what you learned to find a stronger fit. You can be like me and love something for 11 years, and wake up one day ready to write a new chapter. It will be messy, it will be nothing like what you expected, and it will be yours.

For now, I am quite happy to stay where I am. A major change remains in that instead of assuming this is what I will always do, I have a way more open mind. In five years maybe I’ll finally go back to school for microbiology and then work in a lab. Maybe I’ll finally get to all those books I want to publish. Maybe I’ll do something that doesn’t even exist yet. The freedom of choice allows us to change our lives if we just have the courage to do so.

The truth is, nothing is forever… including your career, your successes, and your failures. You’re smart and you know what you want. Embrace the fear and excitement of possibility. I promise you that you have the resolve to change your life.

 

“For a self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.” ~ Virginia Woolf