Fearless Friday 1.3

I have a deep dark confession to make, I read self-help books.

I bet there is a generally mixed reaction to this out there. Some are gasping in horror. Some are tearing up in joy that someone else like them is out there. Some are probably laughing that I am weak. Some are slightly uncomfortable with the fact that they know me, and possibly respected me up to this point.

For most of you, though, the reaction is maybe just a shrug. And you continue to read…I hope.

I think the first self-help book I ever read was a book by Jillian Michaels. I honestly don’t remember the name of it, and no I’m not going to look it up. It was something about how the cravings you have can reveal what nutrients you’re missing and help you somehow magically turn your metabolism into the well-oiled machine you always hoped it would be. The book was confusing, and unclear, and I’m pretty sure had me eating less than 1000 calories a day for three months. I blame myself more than the book. Though the book put the ideas in my head.

The next self-help book I read was The Happiness Project. I’ve talked to my friends about this book several times. I read this right out of college. I was then, and have since been, in serious pursuit of my happiness. I don’t know that the book helped much. Though I can say that I still use one thing from it to this day. My passwords, especially the ones I have to change every so often for work, are always based around a goal I have at that specific time. I do put in the password at work at least 10 times a day, and that’s 10 times I’m repeating a goal to myself. Not bad Ms. Rubin, not bad at all.

I took a hiatus from self-help books for a while. Mostly because for a sad time there, between work, grad school, and adjusting to adult life, I took a hiatus from books all together. That was a sad dark time in my life. I love books! Anyway, in my pursuit of 56 books in 56 weeks (I will publish this list I swear), I looked back and am pretty shocked to say I only read two self help books: The Gifts of Imperfections and 10% Happier.

I would recommend them both. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll read them both again. They are vastly different books. The first is about facing our shame and being authentic. The second is about a man facing his shame, being authentic, and accepting himself through the power of mindfulness and meditation. The former feels much more self-help-y, hokey, warm and fuzzy. The latter feels much more honest, coming from a man who was once skeptical about what he was sharing, but now saw its amazing transformative power.

Both books changed my life and will help me continue changing my life.

The first helped me face so many of my fears last year. The first helped me stop hiding those things that shamed me: that I wasn’t happy at work, that all I wanted was to come home. The first helped me write to you, my readers, this way. Every Friday, the first reminds me the power of being true and authentic and of not letting shame run me.

The second will help me overcome some of my current issue. It’ll help me deal with my continuing battle with depression, it’ll help me fight my current and future anxieties, it’ll help me concretely in learning to live in the now instead of focusing on the unchangeable past or the unpredictable future.

Why do self-help books have so much stigma? I often wonder that. I know when I read The Gifts of Imperfections, I only read it at home when I was alone. But guys, I like highlighted it and stuff. It really spoke to me. 10% Happier was so much easier. I’ve actually recommended that book to many people. I was hoping my whole family would read it. I’m pretty sure only my mom has. And there’s a very strong chance that she only just started it. Self-help books have this stigma. They’re hokey. They’re scams. They’re just authors praying on the weak and broken, trying to make money, without anyone’s best intentions in mind.

Well, I’ve always been naive. I’ve always believed and hoped that people are not at their very core like this. I’ve always hoped people truly want to help others. Self-help books help reveal things to me. They make practices and ideas and thoughts attainable for me. Sure, I could, in pursuit of greater intellect and education, read the research and all the source books that these authors refer to and reach my own conclusions. But sheesh, I do not have that kind of time. And to be totally honest, I don’t think my intellect has that kind of capacity or depth.

I’m currently reading another self-help book that I already love. I’ve picked up my phone about twenty times so far to recommend it to my friends. Friends that I know are going through some of the same problems I’m going through. But I haven’t yet, and I’m not gonna tell you what it is yet, because I haven’t finished it yet. I refuse to recommend a book I haven’t finished. What if by the end of it I hate it?! I can’t unrecommend something! So when I’m done, and hopefully I still love this book as much as I do right now, I’ll tell you guys about it. It’s directyl aimed for a very specific audience, but I honestly can’t think of a single person that wouldn’t benefit from reading it.

Oh and by the way, I finally finished my first book of 2016. It only took six weeks. It was The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The book has been on my list for almost half a decade so I’m happy I’ve finally finished it. There were parts of it I loved, and parts I couldn’t get through. There are parts I can point to and say “This is why boy loves this book so much.” But by the end, my incapable and shallow intellect was overwhelmed by much of the book. So now it’s back to self-help, YA, and science fiction books. I’ll sprinkle in some more philosophical intellectual stuff, because I like to challenge myself, but I suspect my core loves will never go away.

Til nex time, dear readers! And go read a self-help book!

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Continuing the Search

Sorry about the short sabbatical guys, I decided to take a break from the internet. It’s been a while (I’m honestly not sure how long) since I’ve logged on to Facebook. I didn’t check my Instagram for four whole days. I guess that just kind of translated to the blog as well.

The truth is, sharing is always a struggle. I find myself wanting to be authentic, but also wanting to stay positive. My life is far from perfect, but I try to focus on the good, and therefore that’s what I share on my Instagram, because don’t nobody wanna hear a bitch complain three times a day, every day, for eternity. But here, in this forum, I can be authentic and real and share my struggles with you. I mean that was the point always. To share the struggle and then tell you guys how I’m working on resolving it. I do this to keep me accountable and to hopefully inspire others who are reading this, and maybe face the same struggle, to not just accept the hand they are dealt.

It’s Wednesday. Wednesday is work related post day. Yay Wednesday!

The truth is, I started seeing a Career Counselor last week (I feel like I’m in college). This is actually something that I’ve wanted to do every since I quit my job last spring and moved west. I wanted guidance in finding a job. I felt lost. I had a set of skills and a specific job that I was qualified for, but was pretty sure that wasn’t the job for me.

I’m still there. As I suspected, my resume and history got me a very specific job. My last day at my previous job was May 8th. I took a break and started seriously applying to jobs three months later, just after my birthday. I applied to jobs I was clearly qualified for, jobs I was super passionate about, and jobs that plain old sounded fun. I tutored to make some extra money in the mean time. I applied to A LOT of jobs. I got a handful of interviews. All of them were for design or quality engineering jobs. I got one job offer. I took it. I’m a design engineer again. I work in the automotive industry again. I’m exactly where I feared I would be.

So, in hopes of not making the same mistake twice, I decided not to sit still. Live Your Legend, while helpful, reminded me of a lot of stuff I did last spring in search of a new vocation. The problem is, none of it led me anywhere. So when the partner of an employee of my dad’s told me about her career counselor at the New Year’s party that my dad throws for his direct reports every year, I got excited. And a month later, after some pushing and prodding, my dad got her contact information for me.

So far, we just met for a free informational interview. But I liked her. She was genuine. She herself went through much the same crisis as me. And she addressed one of my biggest concerns: that although I may have used many of these tools before (I have), her fresh perspective and professional experience in career counseling would be what makes the difference.

I have my next appointment with her today. As my first task I had to list all the jobs I’ve held, any volunteering and extra curricular activities I’ve done, and then state what I’ve liked and disliked about each. It was an interesting exercise. I recommend you do it yourself. It can’t hurt, and this goes beyond stuff that might appear on your resume. I’m really hopeful for this. But I’m also scared. What if she doesn’t bring me the clarity I’ve been yearning for?! I guess I won’t know til I find out!

Til next time

 

On Showing Up to Work

I bet some of you, readers, like me, struggle with job-satisfaction. I think research shows a ridiculous number of people are unhappy with their jobs. Most of last week, I was very absent from work. Because of my issues outside of the office, I had a hard time showing up. I was there, at my desk, every day, but I wasn’t participating. I was just appearing.

When I woke up Friday, and my out of work issues seemed to dissolve (after much thought and discussion, don’t get me wrong), I was suddenly reinvigorated at work. I came in as usual and went straight to my desk. Milo was in the car that day because it wasn’t raining. When I got to my desk I had to restart my computer because of an overnight update. While this was going on, I could have just sat there on my phone, working my way through Facebook and Instagram, seeing what my friends were up to in far off places. But instead, I got up. On my way in I had noticed a few people were setting up for the Chili Cook-off we were having for the Super Bowl, so I went and asked if they needed help.

I ended up spending about an hour helping out. Much longer than it took my PC to reboot, that’s for sure. But it was great. For that hour I was interacting with people (something I usually crave at work) and just kind of having fun. Later that afternoon, I went to a recognition event. I was invited very last minute, 24 hours before to be exact. My manager stopped by my desk and asked “Are you adventurous?” and I said, yeah. A couple hours later I got an invitation to go indoor skydiving. The event was paid for by work in appreciation for work I did to meet one of our metrics at the end of last year. I wasn’t invited initially because I had only been part of the team for a couple of months last year, but when a spot opened up my manager came to me.

I decided not to tell anyone about the skydiving until after. I know myself, and the more I talk about something the more nervous I get. A couple of years ago my friends and I did a road trip from Yellowstone to Las Vegas. When we visited Zion National Park, we got advice from a friend of a friend to do the Angel’s Landing hike. He said it was arduous, but believed we could do it. Being the girls we are, we did research on this hike and found out that it wasn’t a bad hike, until the last like .2 miles where you were hiking on a narrow trail with sheer drops on either side of you. We all laughed at how we were all scared of heights but would face this together. Unfortunately, we also kept reading. When we reached the beginning of this scary part of the hike, we took a quick rest to scope out the situation. Then we went for it. But somehow we hiked on the wrong side. We thought the chain was meant to stop us from falling down the mountain, not to act as a railing along this steep trail. By the time we got to the first spot that was wider than just barely a hiker’s two feet, I was emotionally exhausted and physically shaking from fear. I made the decision that I tried to face my fear (I mean I had made it that far) but knowing all I know, I couldn’t go any further. While my friends moved on I hung out, contemplated the height at which I was sitting, and waited for someone I could climb down with.

After this experience, I decided that whenever I was initially scared of something that I wanted to do, I wouldn’t research it any further. Researching, I realized, rarely eased my fears, it usually amplified them. So when I found out I was going skydiving, I didn’t even check out the website or the video they attached to the invite. I just accepted it and tried my best not to think about it until I was there. When we arrived the next day, we went through the sign in process and were asked how many of us wanted to do the high-fly experience where your instructor flew you to the top of the vertical wind tunnel. Out of 13, 4 declined. I was one of them. As we made our way through the process, learning some basics and hand signals, getting suited up, seeing those that go before us, I focused on keeping myself calm. I knew this was safe, and I didn’t want my fears to win out.

We were gonna get to skydive for two, one minute increments. On the second go, we’d have the opportunity to do the high fly. Guys, I did it! I did the high fly. My first flight was really fun even though I totally sucked. Keeping your chin up is a big deal but with my body parallel to the ground, I just wanted to look at the ground. Still, it was exhilarating. And I figured, the likelihood of my going again after this event would be slim. If I do the high fly now, I’m out ten bucks instead of shelling out for a whole other session plus the high fly. It was so much fun! I know I would have regretted not going so I’m happy I did it! Here’s a video of my second flight. If you ever get the opportunity, go! This even has me considering going real sky diving (with the person attached to you, I’m not insane!).