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!