Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Self-Love Put into Practice

If you build it, they will come.  This line, from the movie Field of Dreams seems appropriate today.  The building in this case, is me.  I have built a new me and out of the cornfield comes challenges from the universe.  Each one a gift; an opportunity to practice all I have learned; to celebrate all that I have become. 
 
 
Yesterday I had a job interview.  A few weeks ago I was feeling particularly full of self-love and when my inbox pinged with a job posting of interest; working for a former colleague who I often used to call "my work wife";  I put my self-love into practice.  I applied.
 
The chance to work with her again; to have that warmth and energy in my life that comes from someone who really "sees you" and loves you just as you are; was a call from the universe. 
 
Then I got a call for an interview. 
 
 
My automatic response at this time (because yes, I have actually been in a position where I was off work on maternity leave; interviewed for, and was offered a leadership position with a big salary job at another library) would normally be to travel down the "roads of never ending options" and play "what if" till my brain bled with the effort to see the future.
 
Automatic negative thoughts are hard ones to identify and even harder to "catch" when they happen.  At a Buddhist retreat I went to this past weekend (more about that later) I learned people have, on average, about 85,000 thoughts per day, and 75,000 were negative.  So the first step toward trying to at least balance the numbers better, is to catch them when they happen and examine their intentions. 
 
I would love to tell you I was on top of how I felt from the get go, but..... for the first few days I did my normal "spin".  First, I freaked out a bit.  Flushed with  heat, heart pumping, deciding if I should call back to set up a time....I texted my Sista Perfectionista.  It went something like this:
 
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!! They offered me an interview!!! What do I do??????"
 
I just met with my current boss the week before to discuss what returning to work would look like and I had felt incredibly supported and positive about the return.  It was going to be at a pace I could manage, part time days to start, working up to full-time.  I was feeling pretty good about it, and this interview opportunity threatened to derail my decision.
 
"You go of course!"  was her response. 
 
The job was actually very close to her house and my head started spinning about if I could move closer to her and how a move would affect my kids, the Spouse's job, which no longer looked like there was a chance to work from home. 
 
So then I started down the roads.  Would I want to do that? Would I want this job? Why am I revisiting this?  What would it look like if I worked there but lived here?  With a Spouse that worked so much how would we manage childcare with an hour minimum commute added on to my work day each way?  What if I have to work evenings?  What if we moved closer to the job? What would that mean for my kids and the Spouse's commute?  Could I give up the gym and all the wonderful community support programs that were so much a part of my recovery?  What about my doctors? Could I jump into a full time-job doing something I had never done before? 

I ran the scenarios with my therapist.  We talked about the options a bit---but with her feeding back to me what she was hearing in facts, not feeling.  I wasn't sure what was worse--listening to my options or recognizing that I had to make some decisions.   Mentally, I was running a marathon of options and so long as I was running, I didn't have to make any decisions.  It seemed productive, it seemed busy, when in fact, it was an amazing way to avoid leaning into any of the discomfort of having to take a step, ANY step, in a ANY direction.
 
My therapist continued talking, but somewhere in the moments between words, something lifted.  It was subtle--no lightning bolts--but I could breathe easier and a sense of peace descended in the form of the realization that while going back to my job was going to have many challenges, it offered me the best chance of success. 
 
So there it was. I had decided, without deciding. Somewhere in my subconscious, a meeting had been called and a vote taken and someone decided to deliver the news to my brain.  It just was. 
 
And so you can imagine I was a bit shocked when my therapist went on to discuss what I would do after my job interview.  I was thinking:  I'm not going to that! Why would I do that? I just decided!  Now you want me to add more stress? What if I like what they have to say?  Worse, what if they offer me the job?  Or --oh no--what if I make a complete and utter fool of myself!  No more decisions!  (Apparently, my therapist hadn't gotten the memo). 
 
So.  What would you do?  In the past, I would have bailed.  Yup.  First I would have punished myself: you are such a coward!; what are they going to think of you for bailing out without even going?  How does that look! You will never, ever, ever be able to show your face there again!  What will my friend think??   Then I would have practiced several fabricated excuses:  I won't be able to come to the interview because my son is sick; my spouse is taking on new responsibilities at work and I cannot make a change like this right now so I will have to withdraw my application (which is exactly what I said the LAST TIME, I withdrew from the interview process FOR THE SAME LIBRARY for my friend's position.  Yeah, now you see why I might want to berate myself).  Then I would have waited until they were closed and called and left a message---then start the whole regret cycle and interspaced with more berating, belittling, shame and fear that I would NEVER be able to go to any interview.
 
Armed with new strategies, and Brene Brown's voice in my head, I decided to lean into the discomfort of actually going to the interview.  I decided that it would be good for me.  It would allow me to practice what I have learned about resiliency, self-compassion, authenticity and showing up being enough.  I didn't have anything to prove to anyone else, but I did have something to prove to myself.  I have value.  I am important.  I would like to see my friend. I would like to meet new people and talk about library work.
 
I did some research about the Library.  I spent maybe four hours over three days. This is also new.  The old me would have been fanatical and researched all day, every day, looking for that ONE thing that would be the PERFECT thing to say or know or be or do.  But I am not perfect - no one is.  So I tried on a couple of  things before deciding what to wear, (Another first! I would normally have been dumping my entire closet on the bed...) and put my scribbled notes along with the job posting in a used manila folder and got a good night sleep.
 
The interview went fine.  I arrived 10 minutes early, answered all the questions (which were mostly tailored to favor internal candidates), truly enjoyed talking about libraries again and felt like Superwoman when I left.  I was relaxed, spoke up for things that I new were important to me (work life balance), was prepared to address being off work if it came up, and refused to commit to an available start date.  I brought authentic me to the table.  No me who wants to please or someone who will try to morph into whatever you want me to be so you will value me and hire me. 
 
I am just me---imperfectly perfect, authentic and present.  What more could I ask?

I am content with my decision to go back to my job.  I am excited a bit even.  These little challenges from the universe allow me to see how far I have come and so today, I celebrate!





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