Performance reviews are coming up this week and I was given a two-page questionnaire to fill in. The main topic is about me and all the things I did this year. The first question intrigued me. ‘What are you most proud of?’ That’s easy but it isn’t polite to talk about yourself. Thinking back to my childhood I can tell you my grandma said it wasn’t polite to brag. But her mother always asked about me what I was good at. Her son (my papa bear) always asked about my day. What was good about it and what was not so good? At my old jobby job workplace, I was conditioned to do my job, keep my opinions to myself and do more with less.
I quit that place. It felt oppressive.
I’ve been with my current employer for thirteen months. I’m given the freedom to explore new ideas and express my opinion. Then they ask me what I think I’m good at. Finding words to talk about achievements is hard. No one ever wants to be that guy who is her own biggest fan. It took me two weeks to get the words out. I would have my evaluation opened in a window on my left screen and in between tasks I would go back to it and think about how to talk about myself.
I finished my evaluation today. The meeting is on Friday. Oprah always asks her guests “What do you know for sure?” Well, Oprah, I will tell you. I know that I need to ask for what I want because no one is going to give it to me without the ask. I asked. I mapped out a plan. I set goals and I can visualize the end. I am prepared for no, but if they say yes? YES is an exciting future. YES opens new doors. YES is taking risks. YES is trying new things. Yes is harder to ask for. No is plodding along. If no is the answer then I will keep asking because I believe in yes.
When I started this blog, the intent was to explore myself. I had reached rock bottom. Everyone’s bottom looks different because everyone has a different pain threshold. I made a effort to to really change my life, say yes more than no, say no and mean it, take risks and try new things. The thing about taking risks is , its risky. A risk can be a fantastic amazing experience or it can be a disaster. So far it has been fairly equal, great verses disaster.
- I ran 9 half marathons and a bunch of 10k and 5 ks. I felt fantastic, looked pretty darn good and learned new things about myself.
- I went back to school, got my degree and learned that I am smarter than I thought I was.
- I became open to different points of view. This was something I was never good at, different meant fearful. Opening myself up let me become more humanistic. I learned so much and my children taught me more that I thought possible. Kindness became the number one most important thing to me. I gave it, I expected it and sometimes I raged over not being available. That was a strange journey and it still is.
- I traveled more frequently and met new people. Some people became lifelong friends and some became the thing nightmares are made of but everything about travel was worth it. Learning about different cultures, seeing history, understanding climate change, and discovering perspective makes all the difference. I hope my travels aren’t over but if they are, I am very fortunate to have seen and learned what I have from my perspective.
- Travel does not have to be far from your home, it can be in your own city. I met people, saw things and learned new stuff just being 10 minutes from my door step. New perspectives are everywhere.
- I became an avid reader. I was always a book lover but I took a risk that had me reading genres that I had never explored before. It opened up my mind to scenarios I hadn’t imagined. I also learned that time is fleeting so don’t waste your time on books that bore you to tears. It isn’t worth it me. If I am not captivated then I close it.
- I learn to value my health. Life changes on a dime. Do what you can when you have the opportunity or it will be too late. No one ever regretted doing fun things.
- I learned work is work it is not my life. Don’t work late, leave work at work and do a job you can be proud of.
- I have people who are in my order every single time. I have people who are not. I learned just recently that the people who are on my side are there because I am important to them. The people who are in my corner sometimes were the ones I spent too much time with trying to change their perspective. Stick with the people who love you. They deserve your loyalty, the others don’t.
- I learned to feel and label emotion. Laugh, cry, rage, be pensive, sit in silence, do all the things that make you feel. I learned there are not negative emotions. Feelings just are and the sooner you can label your emotions and sit in it, the sooner it will pass. It is an important part of understanding your day. I helps you make better choices because quite frankly, I want to joyful all the time, I know it isn’t a reality for me but acknowledging other emotions means I can get to joyful quicker. It only took me 50 years to figure that one out. I no longer say fine. Give Terrible Thanks for Asking a listen, it will help put those emotions into perspective and help you move forward when you didn’t think you could. *Apologies for excessive use of emotional outbursts to my people, but thats who I am and you know it.
Terrible Thing: (remember taking risks opens you up to terrible things)
- The thing about meeting new people is you are not everyone’s cup of tea. I completely expect that. However, I didn’t expect an old fashion school yard dressing down. Especially after placing my trust and friendship with a person. This goes back to kindness – if you can’t be kind just say no thank you. There is no need for a public stoning. All that does is demonstrate your sad life. Stepping on someone to gain importance is sad, there is no way around it. A lovely friend of mine pointed that out to me today. It helped me find a perspective that I couldn’t see before because pain and hurt were in the way. This man has a sad life which is evident with his vices, his free time, his friends and his wife. I couldn’t look at that before. Today I can. He needs things more than me so he can have the circle of friends, the position and the accolades. I don’t need those as much as he does. I still think he is a bully and is unkind to those he deems as having too much self confidence or those who make good choices for themselves when he did not choose it for them. I still want to protect people from him, but mostly I look at him with pity. That whole social circle is filled with people who push back against people who are strong. Its as if they need to be alpha and no one can be equal. My take away is, I’d rather be on a team of equal proportions than have to live with in a social structure with a male privileged hieracrchy. My life is not broken with out them, on the contrary, it is peaceful and relatively drama free. All good things. So perhaps it wasn’t a terrible thing after all, I can chalk it up to a learning experience.
- The other thing about risks is having an expectation of outcome. But a risk implies the outcome could go either way. So having expectations makes the unfavourable outcome sad in a way you never dreamed of because you always hope for the best – or at least I did. Its pretty painful. My take away is I learn better from failure and disappointment than I do from success. The hardest lesson comes from failure and disappointment. Perhaps this isn’t so terrible either, it just feels that way in the moment because pain hurts. True story. The list of outcomes I had hoped for and failed are equal to the outcomes I had hoped for and succeeded. The failures and disappointments stick with me though, its hard not to take them personal because I put my heart into those risks and the outcomes did not go as planned. Its hard to get over but I have a list of things I would do different next time. And it starts with trusting my judgement.
Looking at the great/terrible things, I guess risk taking is better than not. It’s just the terrible was really awful. Oprah once said 40’s are for learning about yourself, 50’s are applying what you learned. I remember think pfff….what ever Oprah. Now I think, sorry Oprah, I did learn a lot and now I am ready to be 50 and move forward with my life lessons, the most important one is “let that shit go…”