Securing A Job Is Actually An Inside Job

I realized I have a little problem with confidence. On the outside I present as a strong, confident, accomplished person, but inside…totally different story.

burr poolWe were invited to a poolside gathering at our new condo complex last weekend, complete with cocktails, a beautiful spread of food and the perfect background jazz. It’s not a complex actually, it’s an old estate home that was renovated into about 20 two-story condo units. It sits on 23 acres of pristine land behind an old stone wall, so it’s quite intimate and equally elegant.

I didn’t really know anyone, except for burr backmy immediate neighbors, although we have seen others in passing, each of us waving hello. Last week when I had the great lost cat fiasco, I emailed the manager of the estate who emailed all of the residents to watch for our cat. Within minutes I not only had people outside looking for her, but I had several emails of support. I knew then that I was living with compatible people.

So when I met one of my email neighbors face-to-face, also a cat-lover, I thanked her profusely for her kindness, and we got to chatting. “What do you do?” she asked me. That’s a loaded question given my history.

I certainly couldn’t answer, “Well I am an abuse survivor who lives to tell about it…mother of a grown child formerly on the autism spectrum [what do you say when they grow up?]…and an independently employed lost professional soul when it comes to an official job title.”

writerSo instead, I told her I’m a writer – which I am – that is my cosmic gift or special purpose from which I’m trying desperately to make a living. “Oh how interesting and ironic,” she said. “I need to hire a writer!”

Turns out she works at one of the premiere medical facilities in our city, in fact, it’s known world-wide, and she works in Communications – my original degree and first job out of college. When I heard where she worked and that she was hiring a writer I proceeded to tell her the highlights of my resume as if I was amazing. I would like to think that on some level I was amazing, I used to work for the Kennedy family among other things, but I lost that loving feeling about myself quite some time ago when my life took a drastic turn of catastrophic proportion.

But that was then. And now, I suppose I could appear amazing on the outside, but feeling it on the inside? Not so much. After I had proclaimed my substantial credentials (which may very well be in the eyes of the externally confident beholder,) she asked for my resume. “I will send it tomorrow!” I proclaimed. Again – pretending to be awesome.

resumeInside I was a wreck. It was fairly intimidating that in her pile of perfectly-premiere applications that mine would be amongst them – the underdog who bases her credentials on life experience instead of work history. Oh sure, it’s listed, but almost as a sidebar. I have adopted my own resume format which talks about who I am and what I know, not necessarily what I have “done” in the working world.

So be it. After I hesitantly sent her my resume – she is my neighbor after all and I will have to see her possibly for years to come – I owned my individuality. Never mind I’m terrified about being able to sustain any job, let alone a full-time one, the stamina it takes of a day-in and day-out career, and living a “normal” life after years of trauma and drama with a body that feels chronic pain. But those are technicalities. Ones that I hope, will sort themselves out day-by-day.

In the meantime, maybe confidence is overrated. Maybe, being who we are – even as an underdog – has its benefits. Underdogs are flexible, able to be more innovative, aren’t tied by reputations and the pressure of being the best kid in the class. There’s a freedom to express ourselves without intense risk, and an opportunity to be more creative in how we showcase who we are. We can be our authentic selves, and that’s the gold-standard of existence. We just have to come to believe it.

confidence

How Do You Knock Down A First Career In Midlife

It’s more than desire, it’s more than thinking about it, more than the “thoughts become real” philosophy. It’s about entering a land I know nothing about beyond my experience with a keyboard, a knack for writing, and a whole lot of life skills.

What do I want to do when I grow up? More importantly, how do I do it? It’s not a midlife crisis, it’s a midlife beginning.

I never launched a career, or founded a future, instead I raised three boys, nurtured a very wrong relationship, survived abuse, and saved a few lives including my own. That’s a pretty big deal. I was an unpaid special needs advocate, which I learned the hard way with a son on the autism spectrum. I was skilled at guiding three boys through the trenches as their father was in the throes of his gambling addiction. I had a career in survival and healing – which should earn me a CEO-status.

But nope. That’s not a career, not as it’s defined by the real world anyway. So my resume doesn’t cut it, because real-life experience doesn’t count. And I need a job. But more than that, I need a passion-driven income because I have more than paid my dues. If I had to put one word on my resume to describe my status in a nutshell, it would be Super Overcomer and In-Spite-Of Achiever.

Ok that’s six words. But the word that really defines my history and me, is struggle. When will the struggle be over, and the passion-meets-income pay off? Aren’t we supposed to want to do what we love and get paid handsomely to do it?

I loved raising my family and did that for free. I tended to the checkbook with frugality and respect, despite the husband’s knack for gambling it all away. I worked diligently hard to create a future for myself…to build my life and resume with intentions to transfer the skills and the know-how to the outside world when time.

It’s time. But a hard life and intention isn’t enough, it seems to be about luck and who you know. So I sit in this midlife beginning and wonder now what? I kind of don’t know a seekingsoul…except of course…my own.  And maybe that’s the answer. The key to succeed is within.

“The cosmic portal to your limitless potential is now open,” a friend emailed me. The timely message was for her but I jumped on it for the ride. Because I think it’s about more than hoping we’ve got what it takes, or trusting what’s yet to come, or dreaming about what is on the other side of potential. In order to receive we have to believe, and I keep forgetting to believe in me.

Of course there’s a lot of work involved in that – first confidence then direction and then the great big leap. Jumping off the cliff and seeing where we land is not always easy to do without someone holding our hand. Feels scary to forge a new path when we aren’t even sure where we’re going, let alone know how to get there. But looking back I realize my entire life led me to here, and now it’s time to launch.

Beginnings begin without barriers or resistance, I’ll start by unlocking the door.

key

 

We Define the Meaning of Time

As I ran the vacuum around the house for the second time in two days trying to get up the sandy-salty ice melt that comes in on our boots, this is the conversation I had in my head between a couple yentas gabbing at my funeral.

Poor woman. She spent so much time on things that don’t seem important now.

Yea. But at least she had a clean house.

Yes, true. But did that make her happy?

I don’t know. Maybe she just liked vacuuming.

Well they say that a tidy house is a tidy mind. Maybe it was therapeutic.

Or maybe it was dumb.

Did she have any fun?

I assume so, she was married to the love of her life. They had something special.

They sure did.

So what’s really important?

Maybe everything, the big picture. The whole package.

Or maybe nothing. Hard to say.

Oh well. 

Yep. Oh well.

vacuumI was contemplating the importance of time after just finishing a real conversation with a wise woman about how I feel like I have little time to do what I need, let alone want to do. I have no idea where it goes now. Time once felt infinite in spite of things, but now seems lost because of them.

So she shared a concept she calls wide open time.

“Imagine if time had no barriers and what you could do with that,” she said.

Hmmm. I imagine I would get a lot more done, important things. Things that mattered. But don’t most things we do matter to us at the time? Clean floors and a tidy house tidy feels comfortable. So yes, vacuuming matters to me at the time. 

It’s the bigger picture that’s got me baffled. The one where I am not finding the time, or the energy, to launch my life and career. Revamping life at this age and stage is not a small endeavor. If time had no barriers I wouldn’t feel as much pressure, it would all seem more manageable.

“Time-box your tasks,” the wise woman said. “Take a look at your to-do list and set time limits. Be realistic and be flexible, but pay attention to how long you are taking to accomplish things. When you have reached your time limit on a particular task, stop.”

Wait, what if I’m not done? Just stop? Oh – set time limits on tasks but not on time itself! I get it!

It’s about learning to find focus and structure again, from the ground up, kind of like building a house. Brick by brick we form the foundation, piece by piece we connect the beams, the walls, and so on. We do a little bit every day until it’s done. Of course in some cases things are never done, like cleaning and dirt.

But we can work on our goals through focused action, manageable steps, and an appreciation for our time.

I wonder what the yentas might say now.

Great woman. No matter what she faced at the time, she could find a way to balance her actions with ease.

Yep. And her house was always clean too.

good things take time