What defines you? How do I define myself?


Sorry it’s taken me a bit to write my next blog. My new job is fascinating, exhausting and challenging; and by the time I get home now all I want to do is spend time with my family and then drop on the couch/bed after my kids go to bed.

Now in my mind, my course has changed finally from more than just surviving but rather making this into my new career.  And so far so good two weeks after starting my new career as a marketing coordinator with an architecture firm, it’s been great.

While still a bit unnerving, the whole starting from scratch thing with a career, I’m kind of liking the whole clean slate thing. And while it’s not truly starting over because I’m using all the experience I’ve gained over the last 14 years (wow, that makes me feel old), it is the fact that it is a completely new industry with new techniques, skills, methods and processes. And the incidental fact that most of my fellow coordinators are younger than me by nearly 8-10 years.

Starting over whether in a job, a relationship, a new chapter in life is always hard because it’s difficult not to bring the resentment, the scars and the skepticism with you about what has happened prior to this time in your life. A new job often comes with its own can of worms… Will I be able to catch on and do the work as quickly as they are wanting for this role? Will I be able to connect with anyone at the job? And will this be the job that will carry me through the rest of the my life? Or is it just another carryover?

For the first time in my life, that skepticism also carried the burdensome question of whether the same thing will happen again with this job that happened at the previous job? The horrible thing that I had never experienced in any of my other jobs or even been privy to; and now this burden of doubt hung in the back of my head like a piece of clothing needing be disposed of but I was too leery to throw in the trash because I was worried about what would happen if it was thrown away.

Because of this stupid thing that had happened in my life, I had become to believe for a split second that maybe I wasn’t good enough to even keep a job. Maybe I wasn’t a good writer. Maybe I wasn’t a good communicator. Maybe I wasn’t a good enough person to hold down a good paying job to support my family. Then it dawned on me like an epiphany even with all the pep talks from my husband, mother and friends.

What happened to me at my previous job doesn’t define who I am now? Rather it should’ve helped build on who I wanted to become. What did I learn? How can I grow? Jerks will always be jerks, but people who are trampled on and stepped over can eventually learn to rise above and find their footing to become true leaders themselves.

I think what’s so hard about this whole situation. How do you not let something that hurt you so deeply define you because of the weight it held on my shoulders for so long?

But then again what defines me? Who am I? I am a: mother, stepmother, wife, daughter, daughter in law, aunt, sister, friend, writer, reader, swimmer, walker, communicator, marketing coordinator, party planner, baker, lover of the arts, and so much more. So one shitty four months of my life in no way defines who I am and the abilities that I know that I have and continued to perfect over the years.

learnfromexperienceSo now here I am, trying to find a place at this new job; making new friends; figuring out exactly what I am supposed to be doing on a regular basis; and understanding the work that really does come down the pike like a fire hose at times even in the very short time I’ve been there. But I’d be lying to myself if I said there were parts of my other jobs that I do miss. You know the jobs that I willingly left on my own. The camaraderie of my team at SLU is something that I will always cherish because that was a connection like no other but there was more than just one reason why I felt it necessary to leave there. The agencies and the people I worked with on a regular basis at United Way because their dedication to the world around them and to making it a better place was astounding and inspiring in itself. And of course, the News-D, the place that gave me a start at being a better reporter after learning the basics and the foundation from the Journals and John S. The world of newspapers opened a door for me that I don’t think I could have ever closed or even will ever wanted to close because it gave me a foundation to who I am professional. And even a little on the personal side, since journalism helped build my character, self-confidence, tenacity and (every now and then) fearlessness. But from each experience, we learn and take away lessons to use at the next job.

While destiny can often seem like a childhood belief, I do still believe in it myself. Because I believe our lives are mapped out for us when we are born. Perhaps outlined in pencil in case of last second chances or those decisions that change the course of our lives completely. Everything happens for a reason. If I had taken my father’s offer to go onto to graduate school after graduation, then I wouldn’t have ended up at the Suburban Journals and then ultimately never met my husband, subsequently being together over 13 years later, now married with two children. My life would have taken a different course with what would’ve been a much different outcome. That’s why I originally said our lives may be outlined in pencil when we are born so we may rewrite it in pen as we go through life, changing scenes, sequences, characters and even background scenery altogether.

braverBut going back to my original point, I know now that what happened four or five months ago in no way defines me or should I let it determine my path for the future. Because I was the pawn in someone’s game, the move in someone’s chess match that got me taken out off the board. And it is easy for people to say that none of it was my fault, that is easier said than done when they were not standing in my shoes when the whole basis of my career was being called into question. But now looking back on the situation, I have only allowed it to help make me stronger rather than weaker and continue to help me allow myself to grow from it rather than shrink back in the darkness and die.

two roadsI think any time you find yourself at a crossroads in life. It’s easier to automatically take the path that appears to be easiest and less likely to cause you even more pain or anguish, but I also believe the younger you are the more risks you are willing to take.

There will always be those doubts in the back of my head but I think letting them hang out there for a little bit is good for me. Because in the long run, all they are going to do is help me work harder and stronger to help prove to myself that it didn’t define me as a professional or even as a person. It was one bad experience. Ok, one really BAD experience, but who hasn’t had a few of those throughout their own lives.

I hope to continue writing again on a regular basis. But please continue to wish me luck in this new job and keep the prayers coming if they aren’t already.

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