Date: 19th June 2020 Weeks spent in isolation: 13 Weeks unemployed: 11 Days spent looking for a job: none
So much and so little has happened in the past couple of weeks. I started a few drafts last week, about the Black Lives Matter Movement, about my own mini-burnout in the midst of this. But what I wrote felt either insufficient, self-centered or both. I probably shouldn’t worry so much about the ‘self-centered’ part given what this blog is about but it simply felt wrong on the topic of BLM. So I scrapped these drafts. I keep starting the process to write a new post though. Which I have to say, I’m a little surprised with. Surprised that I’m sticking with it. That I’m still aiming to publish a post a week, whether on my sabbatical or other subjects. This accountability is unlike me. I’m usually the one who leaves things until the last minute, scraping by the imposed deadlines. I don’t stick to my own deadlines if it’s not something easy to do. Am I changing?
I’m less surprised about the canning of drafts however. It’s my inner critic making an unwanted appearance, whispering that what I’m doing isn’t good enough. I’m trying to harness that voice though so I can progress. What I’m putting out there is imperfect. How could it not be when I’m just starting out? And it won’t improve if I’m not willing to admit that some of it needs to change, quickly or over time. Tough you think? Maybe.
Behind a need to change though is an opportunity to learn. Reframing a need to improve by calling it a chance to learn was like switching a light on. From the darkness of everything that I’m not good at, to the light of everything I can learn. It makes me want to get stuck in. I’m strangely excited to go down that path and learn a new craft, develop new skills.
What I need to be wary of though is my tendency to remain in theoretical learning. Again and again I’ll read on a new subject or take an online course, spend hours studying and then fail to put anything in practice. Applying the new learnings is the difficult part for me. Is it just me? Acting on the ideas I have is difficult. Action is difficult. I much prefer the comfort of my thoughts, where nothing can go wrong (usually).
There’s a saying that you need to get out of your comfort zone to grow and achieve great things. I’ve seen this quoted in many different forms over the years. It’s not until I started running that it actually clicked. This is exactly what you do when you start a new sport or train to get better at it. The basic principle behind a training plan is to gradually put your body under more stress, so it adapts and gets stronger. Some of my training runs have had to be hard for my speed and endurance to improve. I wholeheartedly accepted the concept when it allowed me to take on a marathon or a triathlon. It’s only recently that I’ve accepted it also applies to all other aspects of life. You won’t grow without putting yourself in situations where you’re not fully at ease. You won’t progress if you don’t go outside of what you know and have done before.
An old boss once told me that I should apply for jobs that I’m not 100% qualified for. As a concept this can feel scary and maybe wrong, especially for women, as we tend to only go for jobs where we tick all the boxes. But it makes sense. If you always apply for positions you know you can do because you have all the experience required, you’ll only be moving to jobs very similar. And it’s not that you won’t progress but it’ll be slower than if you take a leap of faith and trust that there are elements you can learn on the job. I’ll be honest, I need to be reminded of this more often than not. What that manager said that day, not only gave me an insight into how men think about job hunting, it also gave me permission. Not only to apply for ambitious job, but also to try my hand at subjects I’m not the expert on. To start before I’m ready. Which is exactly what I’m doing with this blog.
It’s scary every time I press the publish button, every time I share the link to my work. Every time I try something different. I can fail. I can be found inadequate. But most likely, I’ll recover and try again, learning from mistakes. I hope?
I’m taking baby steps. I hold on to the discomfort. And I ship my work. Before I’m ready. There’s as much excitement as there’s fear so I know I’m on the right track.