A few weeks ago I wrote that I was considering meeting with a career coach. I got lots of emails from y’all, which I appreciated. I did wind up seeing her, while hungover on a Sunday morning, sitting at my kitchen table with a giant bottle of water, toast, Tylenol, and all the good cheer I could muster. We Skyped – despite only being about 20 miles apart – for two hours, and damn was it intense. Focused, detailed, and highly actionable, and somehow not at all what I was expecting. My brain offered up long stretches of blankness a few times, in which I stared out my window and desperately tried to come up with answers to very pointed questions. Pretend it’s December 31, 2012 – what have you done at work this year? What specific projects are you proud of? What conversations have you had with your boss about your career? Ok, now it’s April 2014 – where are you now? And all over again.
A few times I actually teared up, which felt silly, but my brain was shuddering under the stress. What am I good at? Well, nothing that sounds impressive at all when said aloud. I communicate well, I’m highly organized, people like me. Barf. Well ok then, what do you want to be good at? What kinds of things do you want people to say about you? What do you value in others, and are those things you want others to see in you? I don’t know if reading these questions on a blog properly imparts the anxiety and self-doubt that having to answer them out loud did, but I found it supremely difficult. Which made me very, very glad that I had the session.
The biggest effect I experienced was that the next few days (and since then, though I’m getting used to it now), whenever I thought about something theoretical – Oh, that’s a nice shop, I might like to have a shop like that one day; or, What a cute puppy, I really do want a puppy eventually – I felt like I could sit down and make a list of what was necessary to get that thing done, and that it was within my power to make it happen. Conversely, I felt like I could put together the puzzle pieces of what I actually want by looking at the pieces of my life that give me satisfaction, and fitting them together from there. It all felt like it was doable, rather than requiring that I be a passive vessel until my hopes and desires become clear to me in a vision sometime in my early 30s.
Cliches are cliches until they really resonate with you, and then they’re mantras, or guideposts, or just pleasant reminders (or I guess there’s always the possibility that you just suck). I’m buying into some self-help type shit that I’ve always avoided, but it’s working, so bully for me. It makes me regret (a little) the horror I expressed when a friend told me that she had read and been deeply affected by He’s Just Not That Into You. I had a feminism heart attack at the time, but whatever – if it works for you, and it’s not Mein Kampf, then great.
In this vein, a friend recently introduced me via email to her friend, an author, who was going to be visiting San Francisco. I blathered on as usual about where he should go and what he should do, and then I read his book. It was fab. He has a line about writing the book you want to read, and that’s how I’m approaching shit these days. If I like to experience it, then it’s something I should try my hand at creating. Except for rollercoasters, and foods that have a high probability of spoilage.
So soon you can expect me to be a chef-clothier-comedian-author-arborist-vintner-dog. No problem.