Monday, June 26, 2017

Delayed Onset of the Quarter Life Crisis

It is Monday afternoon. I've had several people tell me how powerful and moving a recent feature article I wrote for my company's employee newsletter was. I wrote a posthumous piece on a beloved employee based off of the stories others told me of her. They painted the picture of who she really was and I took that picture, put it down in words and e-mailed it out to over 3,000 people. It did the job. 

Moments like that are affirming to me. Nothing is more satisfying than feeling like the thing you loved, the thing you studied, is the thing you're really really good at. You may know you are talented in that arena but it always feels good to be complimented for it. That validation is necessary to keep doing what you love and keep doing it well. 

Except when your whole job isn't about that one piece of the passion. 

Recently I finished the book "You Are Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Live an Awesome Life," by Jen Sincero. It was a self-help book that actually turned my thinking upside down. It made me question why I want the things that I want (or thought I wanted) and why I'm living the life that I am living. 

That is not to say my life sucks and I'm not being "bad ass." I sort of am. But the glaring message throughout the book to me was, "Mary Anna, you're not living your best life. You're not being true to yourself. You're not striving for the greatness you once believed you could achieve." Damn you Sincero. I was comfortable in my comfort zone of blah. I enjoyed working my tail off at a highly stressful yet mostly fulfilling job. I was going to buy a house so I could paint my walls the color I want them and adopt a second dog. 

I can't call it a quarter life crisis because I'm almost 30. So, it is a delayed onset of a quarter life crisis. I'm reevaluating everything in my life. Take healthcare as a career field for example. I literally tripped and landed into healthcare. I graduated from college, entered a volunteer program (in healthcare) got hired to maintain my volunteer position for pay (in healthcare) got promoted to the corporate side to use my journalism skills (in healthcare) and am now the PR person for a health system. Seven years of healthcare. 

Healthcare has been good to me. But is healthcare where I want to be? Sure healthcare is paying the bills. Healthcare is helping with student loans. Healthcare provides me with health insurance. But if I'm supposed to be living my truth and following my passion, I'm questioning if that passion is indeed, healthcare.

I know my passion lies in writing and storytelling. Basically I love creating things, writing, telling stories and making people laugh. Those are the fundamental cornerstones to "my passion." I get to do a bunch of those things in my current circumstances, but not all of them. I don't feel the level of fulfilled-ness that Sincero is telling me I can feel. But who is she to judge my life? Homegirl made millions of dollars off a book (now two) and gets paid to travel around the world and life coach and give motivational speeches. 

The point is, that stupid book make me question everything and I don't like it. That stupid book made me question why I even want to buy a house right now. That stupid book made me question why I haven't done a stand-up comedy open mic night yet. That stupid book made me question why I haven't written a stupid book yet. I know, all of these big dreams sound selfish and my desire to marry my joys and passions make me sound like a naive millennial snowflake who thinks the world owes me pleasure. Believe me, that is not what I think at all. However, I do believe that when my teachers and mentors told me I could be anything I want to be, I believed them and I still do today. There IS value to the power of positive thinking There IS value to looking yourself in the mirror, asking yourself what you want to be doing for the rest of your life and DOING THAT. 

People will say "oh you don't have the resources to make that dream a reality" or "you should really be thankful you even have a job in this economy, try to find your joy in your current situation instead of finding a whole new situation." But I can't believe that. I refuse to believe I was put on this earth to work my ass off, pay bills and die. 

Now I'm reading "52 ways to live a kick-ass life." Lord help me. But I'm also planning and getting strategic about my future. I'm working out the ways I can live my best life, be fulfilled AND pay the bills/feed my dog. I'm dreamscaping my life and it feels damn good. My biggest worry is that I, a textbook Meyers-Briggs ENFP, am just excited by the "thought" of change and the planning process but won't go through with it. Yet every day I find a new real-time, real-world reminder as to why I HAVE to do this, so maybe this time it is for real. 

Until next time....

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I don't crack glass ceilings, I shatter glass doors


Hot off the heals of an amazing Memorial Day weekend, I enter the work week with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. I did everything I wanted to do that weekend. I cleaned my apartment, bathed my dog, went hiking with my best friend, hung out with Bronx at a pop-up beer garden, got my hair done, met my new dog walker, gave my neighbor a fond farewell, spent time with special people and went to an epic concert that literally set my soul on fire. 

I've been reading Jen Sincero's book "You are badass, how to stop doubting your greatness and live an awesome life." The book has turned my world upside down. I thought things were going moderately well for me. I have a great job and my roof no longer leaks at my apartment. All that good stuff. However, upon reading this book it became alarmingly clear that I am not living my best life. There is a bucket list of things I want to do and an equally longer list of reasons why I choose not to do them. Excuses. I'm becoming aware that I'm living a life that involves working extremely hard, paying bills and getting closer each day to death. As dramatic as that sounds, it is true. 

In an effort to reclaim my passions, I spent Monday night watching Hulu, whitening my teeth and dream mapping my life. I put circle squares down and wrote down the things I want to achieve: buy a home, larger social circle, more adventures, traveling makes me very happy...etc and then little circles with steps to get there. I did this about five years ago and said my three main goals were to move to South Philly, buy a Kia Soul and adopt a Boxer dog. I did those things. Time to do bigger things again. 

I went to bed Monday night with a clearer head and a renewed sense of purpose, as I mentioned before. I had some ideas, a little bit of hope and excitement about the future and a miraculously clean home. When I got into work the next day with my freshly done hair and whiter teeth, I felt optimistic. 

That was until later in the afternoon. I wrapped up a highly successful meeting and went to exit my meeting space. I slide the glass door open to exit and the next thing I know, I'm standing in a pile of glass, holding the door handle, not moving. The door shattered completely. It basically exploded. 

I am not sure why, or how, but I was calm. I stood there and yelled for someone to call maintenance and did not move a muscle. Glass was everywhere and I could already see my arm starting to bleed. I picked a helluva a day to wear a white skirt, but at least I also wore combat boots so my feet were protected. Thankfully the person I was meeting with was not hurt. 

Two seconds after the thunderous crash, half my building was standing in front of me, directing me what to do. After handing over the door handle and removing a plastic liner covered in glass from my arm, I could exit the glass mountain to safety. A co-worker rushed me to the ER where I was cleaned up and bandaged and sent on my way. 

I wanted to start the work week off with a bang. This was not the bang I intended. I didn't crack a glass ceiling but I shattered a glass door. My incident promoted a safety inspection of all of the remaining glass doors in the building. Hopefully my mishap prevents it from happening to someone else. 

Now I just smile and nod at the "bubble wrap" jokes and the "padded room" comments. (I walked into a glass window last winter while chasing an Amazon package and fractured my nose). However one thing is apparent, I have a crap ton of people who care about me and my well being, so that is always a nice feeling to have. Additionally I had time to reflect on all of the "near misses" I've had in my life. I've been in three car accidents, two involved totaled cars, and I walked away from all of them, pretty much uninjured sans some airbag burns on my arms. I've been to the ER about 5 times in my life, once for stitches for a cut under my eye that was dangerously close to my eye. I have a guardian angel, that is for sure. 

The rest of the week has been much less eventful. A highlight is I found a Trader Joe's near my work so when I'm in dire need of TJ eats I can swing by on my way home. This weekend I've got some laundry on deck and some side projects. Then I'll get back to reclaiming my passions and finding ways to make that dream map a reality. 

Until next time...