Lessons Learned

video chatI’ve learned some very valuable lessons over the last 5 weeks since moving to Milwaukee…

Now, lets get one thing straight – deep down I always knew I wasn’t bad at everything.  At work I KNEW I wasn’t horrible at what I did.  As a wise, bald man once told me: “YOU NEED TO BE MORE CONFIDENT”

Confidence doesn’t come easy to me when I’m in a situation where there is a lot of familiarity.  That may sound odd – but once comfortable somewhere, If criticized for a wrong move or a way that I handled something, I often lose motivation to the point where I just give up and move on to something else in order to free myself of the stigma that I did something wrong.

In my former role I was beat-down to the point where I was fearful of making any kind of an independent decision because my micro-manager of a boss generally wanted to make every decision for me.  Since leaving there, taking some time off, & moving into a new role (although similar) I’ve realized that I’m not horrible at what I do.

What I’m learning through this whole experience of leaving my safety-net and moving to a place where I know nobody at all is that reinventing yourself as a confident person is SO much easier when you don’t have anything to prove to folks that may already have an opinion of you.

There really wasn’t anything to reinvent, to be honest.  I was always a confident and outgoing person in my younger years…  However, after my first serious relationship ended (in a fury of confusion, financial distress & emotional turmoil) I felt like I had failed at something so large that my confidence wained and I actually began to believe I was fragile. I never used to feel that way before.  Furthermore, after getting into a new relationship I found myself putting aside my own personality for many years while I helped my husband raise his child.

I didn’t realize I was doing any of these things – they just happened.

So what have I learned?

1.  I should have never been a homeowner.   I always thrived for the feeling of being lost in the hum of a major metropolitan area.  However, enter my husband and step-daughter.  The thought of having a child in my care and a husband who wanted nothing more than to give her the life he was never able to give her with his former wife made me act unconsciously. Together we built a domestic bliss that we believed for many years that we loved (and we did) – Then it all began to backfire on us to the point where it was eye-opening enough to encourage us to move on. We should have packed up and left many years ago. We shouldn’t have kept saying “wait until she’s this age” or “lets wait until she graduates” because both of those things didn’t happen the way we thought they would. People raise families everywhere. We shouldn’t have been so narrow minded to think we had to do it with 1800 sq. ft, a 2 car garage & a white, picket fence.

2.  Sometimes you wanna go where nobody knows your name…  I love my friends.  I love my family.  I’ve learned how much I value them even more now that I’m away from them.  I used to take people’s presence for granted.  Now that it’s not so easy. I cherish the phone calls, short visits & video chats that I have with my dad and friends back home.  I also value the fact that nobody here knows me enough to judge me on choices I have made in the past.  Anonymity is so freeing.

3.  I’m an adult. I do adult things. I get up early, I commute, I put in 9 or 10 hour days, I come home, and I don’t feel bad about kicking back anymore.  Before, I always felt guilty if I would just come home after work and sit around watching TV.  If I wasn’t working to improve the “nest” or doing something to keep the brood happy, I felt like I was wasting my value doing “nothing”. Now I don’t feel that way at all.  I don’t know how to explain it or rationalize it really…  But being on my own away from everything I’ve ever known makes me feel like a real, live, human. I almost want to say I’ve “earned” it…  But I won’t go that far.  It’s kind of embarrassing to say that for the last 39 years of my life I was pretty much just going through the motions of work and play – but now I actually feel like I’m putting in the effort, doing a satisfying job for myself, my employer & my friends & family – and so I don’t feel so bad having a beer and watching a movie or screwing around doing whatever relaxes me in my free time.  I’m not constantly moving for the sake of keeping busy because “it’s the thing that adults do – we have responsibilities.”  When the work is done for the day – it’s done.

4.  I have learned how to sacrifice for the sake of leading a simpler and more comfortable life.  I can think of a few examples of how I’ve sacrificed in the last few weeks in order to make life easier (a.k.a. selling almost everything we own!)  However, my biggest achievement in this area came when I was approached by my boss about carrying an iPhone for work.  I flat out said “no”.  That’s huge for me.  I don’t usually say no in situations where I’m addressed by authority.  However, in this case I had flash backs of how horrible it was to carry a phone for business that tied me to my work responsibilities 24 hours a day.  In this case, I sacrificed by telling my employer that I would use my own personal phone to manage emails and take phone calls – but that I wanted to be in control of whether or not I deemed the situation valuable enough to the business in order to address it ASAP. I was pleasantly surprised that they agreed with me. Now using my own phone for business seems less like a sacrifice and more like a benefit.

That’s it – that’s what I’ve learned so far…  And now this blog post is starting to feel like work – so it’s time to have a beer, kick back and relax.  Morning comes early and I have another 10 hours of negotiations & love songs to put in tomorrow.  😉