Putting It Together: The Pluses and the Minuses

Maybe you know this already, maybe its clear from my writings, but a fresh realization about myself surprised me because I envision my life so differently. I am indecisive. There. I said it. I’ve come to this conclusion partially as a result of working with a career counselor, but I’m not sure what to do next—I’m indecisive about that, too. I’m not sure about its significance to my life or what it says about me—other than the obvious. Acknowledging just how indecisive I am rubs me the wrong way because I have always thought of myself as the go-to gal, the one with strong, clear opinions, who can diagnose a situation in nanoseconds. So, the possibility of me being some sort of dithering, confused person who gets utterly distracted by everything she sees around her, well, I don’t like this at all.

But it sure explains a lot.

Working with my counselor, our discussions keep nudging me towards a very reluctant realization that returning to a traditional, office based career is not for me. This is too bad because operating within such a format, I know what that is, I know what to expect, but the unhappiness quotient outweighs any countervailing advantages. For years, I imagined being one of those corner office players, hustling about in suits and “taking meetings.” I’m not sure how to envision myself in any other setting—especially in a town like Washington. But, as reluctant as I am to abandon the pantomime that is my current job search, I think that’s probably what I’ll do because everything inside of me screams at me to go in another direction.

What part of your life confuses you? What screams to go elsewhere? Where do you dither?

What makes things worse is that part of me has always known what I want to do: I want to write (hopefully generating a reasonable income along the way). I’ve just dismissed this heartfelt goal because it feels like such a wildly impractical and self-indulgent road to take. Everything I’ve done up to now has been premised on the idea of becoming a respected, white collar professional. So, now I walk away from that? What happens then?

I’ve always been a highly sensitive and observant individual. Growing up, I needed to learn how to read the moods of those around me in order to sidestep the adults who held so much sway in my life. Nurturing these talents has provided tremendous advantages—these abilities make me a strong and empathetic person, let alone serve me as a writer—but this same sensitivity has created multiple stumbling blocks. I worry a lot about what other people think. I fret that what I choose to do won’t measure up to their standards (let alone my own). I’m afraid to own what it is I truly want.

What won’t you allow yourself to have?

We all possess personal qualities that bestow both strengths and weaknesses. Mine may be acute sensitivity, while yours may be laser like focus or a talent for creating a beautiful space. Perhaps it’s a calling to minister or heal others. The problem arises when we take those talents and forget that not every moment needs to be a teaching moment. Celebrating beautiful things may also mean that visual cues too easily distract us. The problem with laser like focus is that we may fail to remove our blinders. As mature adults, it’s important that we cultivate awareness as to when our strengths may impede our progress. It’s not always obvious. Julia Child once wrote, “Fat gives things flavor.” My point is somewhat similar: we know that fat enriches the piquancy of a dish, but too much makes it swim in grease and clogs our arteries.

Ok, so having laid out this premise, I want you to think about instances where some of your talents or strengths get in your way. What happens when you do too much of whatever it is you’re good at? Do you drive people away? Do you find yourself swamped in by all your beautiful things? Do you fail to see the big picture in the midst of your consuming interest? For me, my ability to be aware of what’s going on around me makes it overly easy for me to dismiss or forget what I want because I’m so attuned to the preferences of others. What they do or think or want shouldn’t matter.

As I said to my counselor, “Maybe I don’t want to eradicate my sensitivity altogether. Maybe because it’s so much a part of who I am and makes me good at what I do, wanting it to disappear is the wrong direction. Maybe what I need is to learn a better way to manage it.” I’m on to something here, I think, because there’s no way I can squish the life out of my observant nature—I wouldn’t even want to. But, it happens to be this same penchant that keeps me tangled up with wrong headed ideas about what I should be doing with my life versus what I want to be doing. Talk about a Catch-22.

What innate strength do you need to learn to manage better? How will you do so?

It doesn’t get any more re-bootingish than this…

Strengths

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2 Responses to “Putting It Together: The Pluses and the Minuses”

  1. Julie Crispin Says:

    Yay, Rett! This is a real breakthrough for you. You have so much to say and so much to offer, and writing is a fabulous way to share that.

  2. Jim Patterson Says:

    For me, my fear of venturing into a new area and FAILING is a big reason for my own indecisions. Jim

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