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Posts Tagged ‘personal growth’

Wow. I have always known that I’m a perfectionist, but I am amazed. I had a moment this evening when I had to pause and laugh at myself that I really am a perfectionist.  When most people would have looked at what happened and been THRILLED at what I was examining, I looked at those minor things that weren’t ‘perfect’. It’s like getting 98% on an exam, and being upset at the loss of the 2%. Silly.

This comes into play in most areas of my life: school, personal, running, finances, home.

With school I get really upset and overwhelmed when I’m not ‘perfect’ but I need to get over that. I KNOW that I don’t need to be perfect in this program. But the reality is I always try to be perfect.  Finances, too and so I stress out if things aren’t perfect (according to my thoughts/dreams).  And my home? I’m usually embarrassed to have people over without days and days of planning so that it’s ‘perfect’.  But, by having people over more I can make my budget cheaper if I host potluck dinners and we hang out at my house. So I’m trying to plan for this, but not too much!

One drawback of perfectionism is that it can paralyze me if I don’t have tools in place. Some things I’m doing to manage things better so that I’m not paralyzed is changing my financial management tools (blog post to come) so that I’m less stressed and can calmly manage things. School-wise I’m trying to plan ahead better. Personal I need to focus on what I can control but will make changes to meet new people and branch out.

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It’s after midnight. December 23rd.  And like last year, I am awake and pausing to reflect on where this year has taken me.  Last year, I was dealing with things collapsing around me regarding my ex-friend, I was grieving being single at my age and facing the reality of not having kids — maybe never getting married, finding that partnership that we all seek and that person with whom I’d want to have kids.

I was pretty sad — I was in the beginning stages of what was a difficult beginning to this year.  This guy was one who I thought was a best friend, who surprised me by changing the status of our relationship. Who then didn’t follow through, lied about me to those around me, apologized, and when I’d forgiven him and reached out when I needed it most he betrayed me. Now, most of this happened at the start of the year, but it began late last year and I was in the middle of this on my birthday last year.

It was a poignant reminder that I am single and have been for a very long time.  Last year I felt like I was on the same path that I’d always been on, that nothing really had changed ever.  I felt frustrated and inhibited by my life and felt like I was making no significant contribution.  It was a very difficult birthday.

But how am I this year? I’m okay. I don’t love birthdays. I do find them difficult.  It’s another year where I’m single (as always), no prospects and facing another year with that major path the same as always hurts. I don’t like it.  But it’s a very different year.

This year my grandma passed away, I dealt with the loss of someone I thought was a friend. It was a year partly of grief. It also was a year of major decisions and life changing choices.    I ended up choosing to obtain my original birth registration and my adoption file it was a profound experience to consider ideas of identity, self, life.  I haven’t finalized this exploration or this path.  But for now, I need to set it aside. I’m not ready to open the door to a reunion, though I suspect I may have found (through the wonders of social media) my biological family.  Will I walk that path one day? Maybe.  Right now I need to concentrate on another path.

As regular readers of this blog (if any are still checking in after my long period of being AWOL!) will know, I’m in nursing school. Making the decision to go back to school was difficult.  I did not want to give up a regular paycheque and the stability of the ‘known’.  But I felt trapped, useless. I was in a job that I was trained to do, but couldn’t see any growth potential. I have things that excite me but nothing in the job that would directly take me to a place where I wanted to go.  Plus, with the instability in biotech I felt like I was trapped in a low paying job with no recourse to building anything better.

So I took the leap and decided to go back to school — nursing school.  So, now, I’m back in an undergraduate program, have little work and no money.  But, I have peace. I know that I’m doing something radical, yet it’s necessary.  It will bring me to a place that will let me make a difference in people’s lives. It may be on a small, individual, scale and being able to affect people’s lives is what matters to me. It’s why I went into research — to make a difference, yet now I have a chance to do it directly.  It’s a major change to my world, but it’s one that’s finally ‘right’.

I spent the early part of the year trying to run and dance as much as I can, though in recent days that’s tapered off.  I’m going to go to Portland for a dance weekend over New Years, and it’s possible that this will be a tapering off of my dancing for the time being.  I LOVE dancing when I’m in other cities, but don’t always love it here.  So I’m trying to plan my time carefully. With so little free time the question becomes ‘how do I want to spend it?’ As one friend has commented — the live music is often better — with those with whom we most enjoy dancing.  So, if I can manage the time, I’m going to try that — I want to make sure that I’m going to have fun in my free time as much as I can and if I can focus on the venues that are open and fun.

And running.  Running is something that’s kept me sane this year. I ran a second marathon. One that stressed me out much less than the first one — I was too busy stressing over school! But, I did it! My second marathon. My life in the fall was intense — I trained for a marathon, worked ~10 hours/week, and was a full time nursing student (in an accelerated program).

So, although my ‘big issue’ — that of relationship and family — hasn’t changed. I can easily say, I’m not the same person I was this time last year. I’m not thrilled about my birthday, but I’m at peace. I’ve made changes that will lead to better things, better days in a mere 16 months.

So I wonder, where will I be this time next year? Will I still be single or will that path take a turn too? This time next year I will have finished most of my courses and will be facing only one more term — my clinical major and my practicum.  I will have started to work as an employed student nurse and will hopefully have clearer steps about what will happen after my program is done (will I leave Vancouver as I hope, or will I decide to stay? What area of practice will I choose?).

This year has been profound, full of transitions. Some transitions I hope continue and I hope for a year of more joyful times in my life. For now, I’m going to stop, enjoy my birthday, finish preparing for Christmas (one more gift to buy and I’ve been sick so need to brave the stores on my birthday… ugh!), and will work on a post of some thoughts and goals about 2010.

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Sometimes I sell myself short, and I’m hard on myself.  The lessons I am learning on a day to day basis are this: Not to sell myself short, to speak — out loud — positive words about myself (even when alone), to recognize when others are speaking falsely and to not own those false words — also, to not speak or think false words about myself.  The challenge to all of this is that when those false words come from someone who I love a lot, whose approval I badly desire, who I want to be proud of me and to see me for who I really am — it has the potential to be damaging. It has damaged.

But, I am learning that my self confidence comes from within, and cannot be dependent on others, even someone I love deeply.  We all look at the world and others through the lens of our own past and experience. I am not the person I was 5 years ago. I’m not the person I was 1 year ago. For that I am thankful.  But what this means is that when I am viewed through a lens that is so clouded that they cannot see me for who I am, I cannot, should  not, let them affect my self confidence.  Indeed, my self confidence should not come from any other person, and for many years I have sought the approval of those most important to me — and allowed these people to dictate my level of self confidence.  I touched on this topic briefly in my epic 445-hits-in-one-hour blog post from a few months ago “Processing Adoption Questions”.  In that post I wrote:

I don’t know where I would fall in that opposition, perhaps growing up my parents would say that I fell into the testing out side of things. But now I am quite sure that I am more responding with ‘acquiescence, compliance and withdrawal’. This is definitely how I now respond to those ripping wounds when I realize that I am rejected by those I care about, the difficulty I have in trusting after that trust has been broken.

And I do believe it’s true – and I’ve learned that it’s not likely due to being adopted that is causing this. But those feelings, they are like ripping wounds when someone who I’ve been trying to please, to make proud of me, on one level to make them love me for who I really am, speaks such damaging, false, words to me.  My natural response has been to hide, to build up walls, to doubt myself. I become nervous about making myself vulnerable and I doubt myself in certain situations (particularly when it comes to relationships).

I am fighting this battle right now after the Challenging Day of a few weeks ago. A good friend of mine called me on it tonight (we were chatting about guys, of course), and she’s right, I was selling myself short, doubting myself. And I’m faced with a choice: I could just hide, not say anything, take the easy way out (and, I’d probably have fun, because the choices I’m faced with in this situation: both are good options).  But if I open myself up, be vulnerable, take the risk I could end up with an amazing option. But if I take the easy road out, I am re-building that wall of ‘safety’ that I’ve been working so hard to take down. I don’t want to do that.  So, I owe it to myself to take the risk: to make the choice to be vulnerable because in the end I think I need to do that, for myself, to be a whole, self confident woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

And really, in this particular situation where I have a choice to make, and need to risk being vulnerable, it’s a fairly ‘safe’ situation. It’s not the damaging, stressful, “Challenging Day” situation, it’s a good situation, perhaps one of the safest I could find to take the chance to be vulnerable — I’m sure I’m missed.  But I wasn’t ready tonight. I knew I needed to do more thinking first: maybe tomorrow I’ll be ready. But I’m glad for good friends, who recognize when I’m selling myself short and will say ‘enough’. So thanks. 🙂

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Careful with sharing. Needing to talk about something that could open a giant can of worms. Taking a risk. These ideas open me up to a risk of rejection. There’s fear there.  For the last few weeks I have realized that I needed to open up a conversation with my family.  That’s not a bad thing. But if you remember back to my ‘Careful With Sharing’ post from the other week, if it’s not an easy conversation, or if it’s a conversation where there is a perceived risk of rejection, I don’t like to be vulnerable. I’ve been preparing for that conversation with my family now for a few weeks.

Realistically speaking I had nothing to worry about. They’re my family. But I still didn’t know how they’d react. So I thought, planned, made dinner plans to see them yesterday when I was in their neighborhood.  I took the earliest opportunity to talk to them. I thought, planned and hoped for the best opportunity.  I received it. Yesterday, going over to my mom and dad’s my mom was alone in the kitchen. My dad wasn’t there yet and my brother was in a different room.  As she was cooking, I had a chance to share what was on my mind. I had the best possible response. My mom was wonderful. I was afraid, that what I had to say would hurt her. That it could cause rifts, or pain, or family difficulties. But it didn’t. She was interested in what I had to say, asked questions, was very supportive and understood my perspective completely. Supports any choices I may make in the future.

My dad too, in many ways, I had the best response possible.  Later on at dinner, I repeated the conversation — this time with my mom’s support (in fact she initiated it since there wasn’t an easy opening for me — thanks mom!). My dad was very clear that he too supports any choices that I may make in the future relating to this conversation.  It was challenging to discuss it on his level — this is very much an emotional feelings type situation for me and my dad is not one to express or focus on emotion at all. It was all about the analytical side of things.  But, he was clear that he will support and stand with me.

My brother, I knew would support, yet I wonder if he understood. He has been in a place of challenges right now. A place of transition. I know he’s stressed out. I know that my choices in this are not his and I don’t know if they ever would be. But I know that he supports. When he heard the news, he just listened.  I wonder how this will impact him. Whether it will drive him to think.  For now, I’m sure it’s not where his head is. He has many other things on his mind and I don’t think he’s ready.

I am relieved. Feeling full of emotions, some of them very unexpected and new, but more peaceful. Partly because now that this conversation is complete I can be more open here about things in my life that have gone on.  I was fearing a type of rejection with this conversation and I was not rejected.  Ah the things that I am dealing with.   I will continue to process. Continue to deal, and hopefully come out the other end a more whole, healthy person.

As to what the conversation was about? That will wait for a later post. A subject on it’s own. But I will share. When I’m ready.

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Now that I’m working, I seem to have options for other opportunities sent my way. There’s the school option, multiple interview options – often with recruiters who I’ve worked with in the past – they all seem to have the ‘perfect for me’ job. There’s the test, too.

The test I’ll take, that could set me up for a job a year, two, down the road. School I am relieved to point out, I can defer. I had to write a letter making my request, and I have to wait for a response – which will take a few weeks. But, they said it’s usually not an issue. It’s especially fortunate that I am, quite honestly in the throes of family crisis, so my excuse is very very real. Ironically, today’s the day that I finally managed to speak with people (we’d spent the last 3 days playing telephone tag).  I get home and what do you know, another recruiter I’d worked with in the past calling to catch up.

Tonight was another dance night. So far, since moving my blog to this site, my dancing’s been highly ineffective. I always seem to be posting about unsuccessful dance nights. Well tonight, I was in a good mood, relieved over the school deferral, and ready to dance. I get down to the beach and there were one or two other dancers there but no DJ and no music. I know these guys so I call them and they’re having dinner and will be there after. No worries, I had some journalling that I needed to get done, and was hoping for time to do that.

But, they ended up taking an hour. Or more. A lot of people were there, waiting for them to show up. I suppose they eventually did, but I left before they got there.   The thing was, I was feeling in such a good mood, that I felt like I had the energy and strength to make a call to one of my family members. This is someone I love dearly and in my necessary hiding away as I process and sort through ‘stuff’, I miss seeing them.

So, while heading to the beach I gave this person a quick call. Left a message. And while I was waiting to dance, they called me back. Questioned why I’ve been hiding and what was going on, and when I explained it, spoke up with fears that I have about my hiding. I’m sure that makes no sense at all to anyone reading this, but it suffice it to say, it really stressed me out. Do they think choosing to hide is easy on me? The easy road for me is to not hide and to not deal.  But I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself or I wont make it with my sanity intact (no comments from the peanut gallery!).  If I’d taken the time I needed 6 months ago (though I know I wasn’t ready in some respects), perhaps the situation wouldn’t be what it is. But it is. So I am. Hiding and dealing.

But it did stress me out, and since there wasn’t music yet, I had no way of distracting myself (and it meant I heard my phone ring in the first place), and I was really hoping to be distracted. So I tried journalling, that helped calm me down – mostly, but not enough to hang out. I just wanted to go home and ‘process’. So I did. Sadly, I handled it with my favourite inappropriate way to handle stress. I should have gone for a jog instead. Oh well, next time.

So yet another unsuccessful night of dancing. OR not. Next week, I hope to get my dance back. When going about my day to day life, I’m feeling like ‘me’ again, and I want to have fun doing ‘me’ activities. Like dancing. I miss it.

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Recently I posted asking the question: “a year ago could you have imagined where you’d be and what you’d be doing today?”. Now I’m truely faced with considering the reverse. Can I imagine what my life will be like in a year? Two? Five? Ten?

I’ve recently started a new job, after more than a year and a half of being without a career-related permanent position.  That brought me to a place where I never ever want to be again.  Stability in my employment has always been important and now, it’s even more important. The job I’ve accepted is stable. The company is not going to go under anytime soon, and I like my team. It’s nice to have a predictabe paycheque, and the work is intellectually stimulating.  But, they’re very conservative financially — the salary I accepted was much lower than other companies.  So that’s stressful because I’m trying to save, be responsible for preparing for retirement and doing what I need to do so my dreams of home and family in the near future are able to be realized.

But how do I get there? Where do I want my career to go? Where do I see myself? I’ve had a lot of rough things happen to me in recent months. To the degree that, to be totally honest, I’m afraid to think of the future. I’d rather life just happen. Every time I carry a dream it feels like it gets dashed, or somehow destroyed.

But it feels like I’m being forced to make decisions. I keep having opportunities forced on me. Not that I’m complaining, but I’ve had multiple offers for interviews.  It’s ironic because I was desperate for interviews and they were few and far between.  Now I’m getting calls, some I’m turning down, some, like the test I’m taking in a week, I’m pursuing.

But the decision I have to make, I have to decide in the next 2 weeks, or less. It’s to go back to school. Would totally change my direction. Would be secure, pay would be better, but my company may change the team’s salary structure.

I don’t know. I was asked where I saw myself in 10 years, and I could mention that I hoped to have kids by then, that I’d like to have a stable home, a life that I enjoy living, a good relationship with my family. Job-wise, I imagine myself in a position that challenges me intellectually, that has built my management skills, that allows me to problem-solve.

So what does that look like? Is it going back to Nursing school? Is it staying in Biotech? Perhaps moving to the government position in the future? It’s hard to decide as I’ve only been in my position for a short time. It’s still the honeymoon period, and I’m not yet fully trained.  So while I’m satisfied (in all areas except finances), is it right to give up school? Is School worth going into debt by thousands of dollars not to mention 2 more years of lost income? Would I be better off investing as much as I can in that timeframe for long term growth?

So much to consider. At least when I run my latest half marathon this weekend, I’ll have something to distract myself.

Tonight was a nice night. Though tough too. I cooked dinner for a good friend of mine (Warm Thai Chicken Salad) and we hung out. Chatted a little bit. He’s one of a number of friends who are keeping watch on me as I work my way through this very very rough patch I’m in. I think I have something like 5 movie dates booked and a few concerts and the like. I appreciate my friends. It’s nice to feel supported and cared for, even though I find it difficult to reach out and ask for it.  I then went and danced to a few songs. I’m into lindy hop, blues dancing, balboa and other dances in the broad genre of swing dancing. But I’ve been struggling to be inspired most of the time these recent weeks.

So I had some fun dances, but didn’t dance much. Watched. It’s an outside venue so the weather wasn’t the greatest, so I came home. And am now here hanging out and reflecting on life and decisions.

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