9-5ish: The Must Do, Can Do, and No-Way-Ever Should We Be Allowed To Do

A few years ago, I asked a friend and photographer to help me update my professional photos. It’d been about five years, and at IMG_0043my age, five years ago just looks like a lie!

My approach was different than it had been in the past. No suits. Casual. Fun. Something that represented the “real me”. Plus, I’m absolutely tragic at striking a pose. I should get her to share a few of the awkward times we tried. Scary! Seriously!

We braved a major highway and pending thunderstorm to get to these railroad tracks. I knew I had to get a representation of the tracks splitting in different directions. It is so how I’ve felt lately.

This way. That way. Left. Right. Climb ladders. Climb down. Be handy. Be a writer. Be smart and oh-so- professional from 9-5. Witty and thoughtful after hours. It was driving me insane.

Years ago my dads friends told ,me “you don’t know who you are.” Straight faced and dead serious. Pish posh I thought. I was actually offended. Turns out, old dude was right.

We all wear so many hats, it’s easy to try to separate the roles we fill. Trying to be a tad different in each of them. It’s just not in my DNA. You know the strand that says conform? I didn’t get it. I needed to be me all the time, but I had to figure me out first.

Every choice I made in uncertainty led me in a direction, each having impact to varying degrees. Big. Little. Insignificant. Life changing.

When I felt paralyzed, I deferred choices. Guess what? That’s still a choice.
Aimlessness is insanity times 10,000. Trying to fit in. Exhausting. Be everything to all people. Impossible. So, I drifted.

I felt like an aimless-misfit-people-pleaser. Dr Suess fans, doesn’t this sound a lot like “I Wish That I Had Duck Feet”?? Best kid book ever! I digress.
I just needed to be me. Be ok with how God created me. Different, maybe. A little odd, often. Passionate, for sure. Love for people, you bet. These didn’t seem to fit well with the corporate me I had been crafting.

A few years ago I attended an executive level only type conference. I’m not executive level. Let’s clear that up. The owner and COO were there as well. I kid you not, I went to my room and cried like a baby. I moaned to my husband. I…Don’t…Belong…HERE! I was clearly out of my league. I felt like I had toilet paper on my shoe or food in my hair…riddled by my awkwardness amongst all the smart people.

Oh good heavens, I was sure to lose my job if I couldn’t pull this off. The acronyms alone were enough to put me in a straight jacket. I had rookie written all over me.

Sidenote: I’ve since learned (grown up) a lot. Not all executives are to be feared or deemed stuffy. I picked up that lie somewhere, ok, totally concocted in my head. Some of those execs have had a tremendous impact on my career and who I am as a person today! Glad I didn’t stay weeping in my room.

I got lucky, pulled it off and remain employed today. Whoosh. But I stopped trying to figure out what I wanted, what I should be doing. There was work to be done, kids, and, for the love of Pete, a seemingly never-ending pile of unmatched socks.

I left it there at the table of acronyms. I got a little lost. I stopped pursuing my love of anything fun to be honest. Stopped learning and understanding how my skills and gifts fit in with where I am and where I want to be.

Fast forward, I’m figuring it out now. Two patient bosses have endured this soul journey. I’m thankful. Bless you both! You know me well enough to know this is not a Jerry Maguire moment. I hope. Ninjas rock! Squirrel!

I’ve picked up my pen (ok, stylus) and started crafting words. I’m connecting with people again. I will relentlessly pursue my passion for writing as a way to make a difference. To do so, I’ve got to create margin. Say no. Do hard things. Be a little weary sometimes, but the energy from passionate pursuit and using my God-given talents compensates just fine. I can honestly say this does not stem from pride. I’ve really had the chance to learn what I must do, can do, and should no-way-ever-be-allowed to do (like flow charts)! I needed that lesson to get comfortable in my own skin.

If you’re in a figurin’ stage, here’s what you need to know. Figurin’ is hard work and “me too” is the most magical phrase in the human vocabulary. So, me too, been there, and sweet Jesus I hope I learned the lessons I needed.

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