I’ve been sitting on this post for…I’m embarrassed to say how long. I’ve deleted, tweaked, inspected, hemmed and hawed over it. I don’t need a psychotherapist to tell me that I’m just dragging my feet. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. But, you see, this is my first post to my new blog and website, and I’m feeling just a teensy bit vulnerable and exposed. So far, the “courage to hit publish” is eluding me. The website is FAR from perfect, but the reasonable part of my brain is telling me it’s a good start, and at this point I’m just being ridiculous. So I’ve avoided, delayed, sidestepped, and dodged making this public.
Me to Myself: I should really get that first blog post up.
Myself to Me: Yes, you’re totally right. I’m just going to go Marie Kondo my closet first. BRB.
WHY AM I EVEN DOING THIS TO MYSELF? It’s not like anyone is holding a gun to my head. I have a great job, and it’s not like I just have loads of free time. You want to know why? I’ll tell you why…
Don’t get a life coach unless you want your life to change
It all started eight months ago. A friend of mine who is getting a life coaching certification asked if I could help her fulfill her required coaching hours and be her coachee-guinea pig. I said sure! I’ve been interested in branching into career coaching myself, and I figured it would be fun. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to work on, but after a few sessions it became clear that a desire to do more writing was something bubbling up underneath the surface of my already-full life. The question seemed to be, how do I do more of the thing that lights me up?
At work, I write a career-focused column for a program newsletter aimed at post-college young adults which I found especially satisfying. It turns out I have a lot to say about faith and work and finding a career path. Honestly, this shouldn’t have surprised me; I am one of those women who opted out of the work force for an extended period of time to raise children. I spent almost 9 years “plotting my comeback” to the world of paid employment.
I also re-entered the workforce for the second time while many Millennials were entering it for the first time. This experience has given me a unique understanding of the inherent challenges of establishing a foothold in your career at this point in post-recession history.
The response I’ve gotten from folks who I have helped or with whom I have struck a chord has been especially fulfilling. In one coaching session, I remember saying that I enjoy almost everything about writing. I even enjoy complaining about it! I sat down with a list of needs and values and ticked off about 20 different things that writing fulfilled for me. As I looked at the list I saw things like: connection, joy, meaning, and laughter. I firmly believe that we ALL should do more of what gives us energy and connects us in a deep and meaningful way to the skills and abilities we’ve been gifted. Even more importantly, I believe, those same gifts, skills, and abilities need to be used to build up the others and point them in the direction of shalom. The vision was starting to become clearer…
Through coaching, I set out to find what it took to start a blog. I’ve spent the last few months deep diving into podcasts, boot camps, SEO, online courses, and (of course) writing. I’ve learned a lot, but I still have a LONG way to go.
Of course, there’s always resistance to overcome as you undertake any new endeavor. Here is a brief snapshot of the things that have
turned me into a hot mess kept me from getting up the courage to hit publish the past few months:
My INFJ/Enneagram 3 personality
The barriers I deal with can partly be explained by not one, but TWO, personality frameworks. Scoff if you must, but I’ve found these taxonomies to be enormously helpful in identifying why I can be such a risk-averse wimp. First, the Enneagram. I’ve learned that I am a 3, the Achiever. Threes are defined as “success-oriented, pragmatic, adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.” Our basic desire is to feel valuable and worthwhile and our basic fear is of being worthless. Threes are all about image and looking successful- leading them to be TERRIFIED of failure.
The other framework (and my personal fave in which I am certified) is the Myers-Briggs or MBTI®. I am an INFJ, and in case you didn’t know (as the statistically rarest type) we are the special unicorns of the MBTI. If there is one thing you should know about INFJs (other than the fact that we love talking about being INFJs) it’s that we are MAJOR perfectionists. Like, nearly PARALYZING perfectionism. This is why I can’t just slap something together and call it good. I set extremely high expectations for myself and when I fall short it’s devastating. I’ll go to great lengths to avoid criticism. I also fall prey to the perfectionist-procrastination cycle. Until I have the time/energy/motivation/education/resources to do something perfectly or completely, I often hold off doing anything.
Combine this out-sized concern for image, fear of failure, and perfectionist tendencies and you get
a giant chickenshit a person who has a reeeeeeally hard time leaving letting go of her work for public consumption.
My crazy life
I am a working mom with 3 VERY ACTIVE kids and a husband who has, like, 17 jobs. Between us we juggle our work responsibilities, home maintenance, sports schedules, family obligations, and oh yeah, we try to get to church sometimes too. How do I make room for one more thing?
My inner critic
I’ve been brushing off people for years who have complimented my writing or encouraged me to do more than just write a funny Christmas letter or Facebook post- which is basically the only workout my English degree got for the better part of a decade. In the years before I was on social media, I did have a couple of blogs, mainly as a hobby/diary during my years as a stay-at-home-mom. But I never took it (or myself) seriously enough to believe what I had to say would appeal to anyone else or could possibly make money. (Because making money at something you’re good at would just be crazy!)
When I contemplated doing a REAL blog, my inner critic would say, “Who do you think you are? You’re not a writer. OTHER PEOPLE are writers.” I’m not sure what I thought needed to happen in order to become a REAL writer or whose permission I thought I needed.
Here’s the trick: I am learning to make friends with that inner critic. And, to be honest, she isn’t all bad. I kind of get where she’s coming from. She wants to keep me safe, and if that limits my growth as a person than so be it. I don’t think we’re on the path to be besties, but I think we’ve reached a mutual understanding.
It’s taken me nearly 10 years and a lot of Brene Brown to get me to this point. And that’s OK. I think our ambitions can take some time to crystallize. After all, it’s taken until now for me to figure out that my own path has something to do with helping others find their path. I needed all those years “in the wilderness” of not pursuing career to prepare me for this moment. Those wilderness years have provided me with a lot of material, quite honestly.
So here I am. Eight months after that first coaching session. Staring at this blinking cursor. Resisting the siren call of a spice cabinet that PROBABLY needs reorganizing.
Current Mood= Terrified + Determined
You guys, I am NOT ready but I’m doing this anyway. Because let’s be real- if I was going to wait until this BLOG was ready and this POST was ready, I would NEVER hit publish.
Here is what I’ve learned: I’m not getting any younger. I know, I know, it’s surprising to me too! Somehow turning 40 this year has pushed me to confront my own mortality. It’s time to stop putting things off until “someday.” I only have so much more time on this planet to DO STUFF. Learning to take small steps and not letting setbacks, criticism, or discouragement stop me is the growing up I still need to do in this life.
A lesson in courage from the ballpark
I have kids in sports and I’m actually quite at home on the sidelines. We’re in baseball season at the moment, and this is what I do: chit chat with other parents, pace by the foul pole, record at-bats on my phone, and heckle umpires for bad calls (if only in my head). Since baseball has its sloth-like moments, I also eat hot dogs, read books, and play endless games of Candy Crush. A few weeks ago, during a pitching change, I looked up and down the sidelines at the parents in their chairs (most of them looking at their phones), when something dawned on me. The sidelines are safe, but they’re also kind of…boring.
At the end of the day, I’m there for my kid. Nothing is required of ME other than to be a supportive presence who pays for the Gatorade. He’s the one in the dugout, at the plate, and in the field. He’s the one on struggling or succeeding on the pitching mound. (Frankly, I am amazed at the courage required for kids to step out onto a field or a court to compete with crazy intense parents and coaches shouting at them.) You can definitely choose to sit on the sidelines of your own life- never risking anything by stepping onto the field of play. But is that what I really want?
How often and how willing are we as parents and adults to risk public ridicule and criticism from our peers and authority figures?
It’s an overused cliché, but there’s something to be said for getting in the game. To risk delivering an imperfect performance in front of an audience. Part of the reason sports are so important to my philosophy of parenting is that the human experience wasn’t designed to be comfortable or easy. Growth and challenge go hand-in-hand. And furthermore, win or lose, your contribution to the team is important and worthy of recognition. Because we are MORE than the accolades and trophies we acquire.
And a little child shall lead us…
Basically, I am inspired by my kiddos. They are tenacious and resilient, and they work so hard to be better at what they love. They are COURAGEOUS! They push past setbacks, criticism, and discouragement. They are willing to risk disappointing themselves and others. They risk the possibility of looking stupid to do something that lights them up inside. I kind of want to be like them when I grow up.
Whether we know it or not, our kids are scrutinizing our lives. Furthermore, if I want my little humans to go out into the world and fearlessly use the gifts, skills, and abilities that God has entrusted them with than maybe it’s time to practice what I preach.
Why I’m here
I feel a deep down call to help people resolve career-related anxiety. To encourage others to lighten up. To help people identify and leverage their strengths in order to create a life of meaning and purpose. To make people laugh and make people think. To be a challenger and a cheerleader. To write. And, dang it, to risk!
The courage to hit publish
So here I am. Starting this blog.
It’s time to stop the hemming and hawing and finding things to fix or change and just do the darn thing.
If you’re reading these words, you’ll know that I DID eventually hit publish…I probably just reorganized my spice cupboard first.