I’m not going to pretend for even one second that the most recent turn in my career is the first time I’ve been seen and validated for my hard work. I have a solid career behind me of being promoted and offered jobs and opportunities because of my intellect, ability to communicate, and willingness to work hard.
I am willing, however, to say that the years I’ve spent in Seattle have been exactly what the Universe ordered to move me on from some of the dysfunction and fear that I’ve carried with me since childhood. I came here, to this city, to these jobs, and these companies, to shed my need for approval and tap into my desire to be seen, be happy, and be well.
At Amazon I played too big. Or so I was told…often. I took on each new challenge (lovingly referred to as “piles of poop”) that came up and was surprised every single time this didn’t translate into a promotion. I couldn’t sort out how to be big enough to get the important work done, yet small enough to not forever be told I was aggressive or abrasive or bossy. In hindsight, I was all of those things. I also short changed myself by saying yes to everything and by not finding a mentor or champion to help me navigate it all.
At Expedia, I played too small. I was given a role that was stunningly ambiguous and ultimately turned into Chief Lion Tamer at a circus made up of entirely too many asshole clowns, abusive bearded ladies, and shockingly weak strongmen. I tried several solutions before becoming debilitatingly ill with panic attacks triggered by a backlog of emotional work I’d not done to deal with my own childhood fear of disappointing the narcissists and placating the abusers.
What I won’t do is pretend that I’m Goldilocks and my current position is the perfect chair, bed, or bowl of porridge. But here’s what is different…
I did the work.
It is not about the leaders unwilling to step out on a limb for me. The mean girls. The jerks who were only brave enough to talk about me when I wasn’t in the room. The church leaders afraid to let me speak. The family members unwilling to get to know the real me.
As a matter of fact, you all (and you know who you are) can take a seat. This isn’t even a little bit about you. For a minute, it seemed like it was. But it isn’t. And wasn’t. So take several seats.
It is entirely about the work I was willing to do. The work that required me to finally admit how angry I am at being neglected, abused, abandoned, hurt, and undefended. The work that required me to decide that I was willing to lay down my need for the approval of others. The work to unpack my identity and repack the bag with only the things I need for my journey. The work that requires really open dialogue when I’m hurt, angry, frustrated, sad…and allows for extreme vulnerability. The real hard work of being willing to be seen…really seen. And quite frankly the work of realizing that being seen and valued by others is lovely, and STILL not more important than being seen and valued by my own damn self.
Do I have it all worked out? Nope.
Am I still doing the work? Yep.
And when I wasn’t sure what would happen next but had dared to hope, the universe gave me a job where so far I feel seen and valued. Where my efforts aren’t in vain or unrewarded. Where I can say “That is really hard for me. Could someone help?” and someone does actually offer to help.
The universe has also given me friends who have proven they’ll stick close even in a year like 2016 that has had me in the pits of despair and on the highest of mountains.
The universe has called forth my creativity…I see it in my journal, my little attempts at art, my writing. I am reminded that I have something innately my own to share that no one else can.
The universe reminded me what it feels like when my lungs are tired and my muscles are sore. And what it feels like to plant my bare feet on the softness of the yoga mat and meet my breath there.
The universe gave me a group of writers to lead and nurture and care for while we work to write the words that bring about healing. A way to give back. A way to grow. A way to hear others stories.
The universe has called to me and said “You are a storyteller”. And it just so happens, this year with it’s heartache and beauty is a part of my story. And for that all I can say is…Thank You God/Goddess/Universe/Glorious Spirit Out There That Loves Me So. I love you too.
And I love you people!