to thine own self be true

The Emotional Spectrum

“Don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while,
even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?”
– Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveller’s Wife

I am an emotional creature. Many a tear has been shed in my lifetime, that psychological water that flows in streams down cheeks, physical echoes of the yearnings of the heart inside. They accompany movies, books (tell me I wasn’t the only one who bawled for an hour after reading The Time Traveller’s Wife?), songs, weddings, goodbyes, stress, love and pain, and sometimes, the act of crying can be cathartic. A good sob, we’re told, can allow pent-up feelings of sadness, loss or frustration to be set free, leaving more room inside for more positive, forward-moving feelings. But sometimes, being more emotionally sensitive than The Norm can make you look like a total sap.

The same goes for the other end of the spectrum: joy. During my first Skype conversation, after hearing some good news, I was asked: “…Was that a happy clap?”  Yes, was the answer – when I hear something awesome, or have something to look forward to, I will run shamelessly up and down my stairs, start applauding, or otherwise have one of those Laura Linney moments in Love, Actually where the compulsion to run around the corner, stamping your feet and squealing like a schoolgirl proves impossible to ignore.

The yawning gulf of my emotional spectrum has been the subject of many a debate with friends and loved ones. “If you didn’t get so excited in the first place,” I’d be told, “then you wouldn’t be so disappointed now!”  “Don’t rush into things.” “If you stayed closer to the middle, not too high or too low, you’d be much better off.”  I had to wonder. If I tempered myself a little – refrained from showing too much excitement, would things be less disappointing if they didn’t work out? If I didn’t give my whole heart out so openly, would I have saved it such ache in the past? If I didn’t become too emotionally invested in people so quickly, would it be less painful when they moved away? And if I didn’t allow myself to cry so often, at the mundane and the painful, would life be that much easier?

Perhaps. But a bigger part of me says that these are the things that allow you to experience life to the fullest – drinking in every drop; allowing yourself to feel the heights of pure joy even if that means risking the lowest of the low.  I’ve heard of many people who’ve worked on themselves, making sure what would be their instinctive, automatic reaction is moderated; socially acceptable, not so extreme, guaranteed to save them from disappointment or funny looks. But is being too emotional such a bad thing? Surely, if naturally, you wanted to shut yourself in your bedroom, hide under a blanket, pound your pillow and wail from the bottom of your lungs, allows all that sadness to escape? We’ve all seen what happens when things get pent-up inside; the feelings of sadness give rise to feelings of anger; as they grow stronger and get further pushed inside, they can only be repressed so much until something snaps. And that’s never pretty. On the flipside, why would anyone deprive themselves from living with their heart caged in by self-constructed walls? Because we’ve been hurt before. Because there’s a risk of everything falling apart. Because people might think we’re strange. I get it. But what we devise to protect ourselves can sometimes deprive us of the heights of happiness. The true depths and heights of human emotion can be amplified when exposed to the outside world, but moderating them takes away the potential for greatness. Why not show the world your true colours, even if that does include jumping up and down and shouting from the rooftops every now and again? When we look back on our lives, do we want to say we lived a sheltered life, never too excitable nor too down, or do we want to be able to say we gave it our all, and lived?

After all, as the old saying goes, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Are you, too, an emotional creature? Or do you tend to be more even-keeled? I’m interested to hear your thoughts. 🙂

In which I accept sweets from and get into cars with strangers

Okay, first order of business here is a MASSIVE THANK YOU for all the birthday wishes this weekend! You guys absolutely made my week and I love you all!! Also? BEST. BIRTHDAY CAKE. EVER.

So, moving on, one of my tasks on the 26 Before 26 was to meet new people, branch out and make new friends. Pardon me while I get a little deep for a minute, but I’ve had the experience once before where I’ve put something out into the universe, and the universe has abruptly halted whatever it was in the middle of only to deliver in abundance. In situations where I’ve suddenly decided I didn’t like something about the way I was living, and actually declared I was going to bloody well do something about it, things seemed to… kind of just fall into place? I don’t know what to chalk it up to, but the universe is proving to be a supremely awesome listener/provider.  One of the things I’ve been uncomfortable with in my life lately is the lack of really close friendships.  There are people I absolutely adore… but have moved away for education, still live back in England, or I just don’t see as often as I’d like to here in the city. And I want to change that this year. I want BFFs, dammit!

So, in the last week or so, things have started changing. New people have started cropping up at every turn, and with them (hopefully!) the opportunity to build the foundations of new friendships.  It started just over a week ago when someone who’d originally been a Facebook suggestion (You have 8 friends in common!  Surely you know each other!) turned into a weekly penpal with whom I started exchanging emails for the past couple of months. We shared all sorts of interests, and he recommended the book I’m currently reading (and ADORING) on life, purpose and seeing the world differently. (Review to come!) Long story short, we met in person last weekend – and proceeded to chat for over three hours about where we grew up, football, science, philosophy, music and personal goals… TOTALLY nerded out, and it wasn’t awkward in the slightest! I really hope this turns into a more regular thing – and I’m still surprised this person still actually showed up after a random ‘hello Internet stranger, you seem awesome, be my friend? kthxbai’ – but as a mid-twenty something in a world where friendship circles already seem to have formed long ago, making new ones calls for something outside the box. Even if that’s at the risk of coming across a total weirdo. I’m very grateful the risk was worth taking and I’m hoping this is the beginning of a great friendship. 🙂

Coincidentally, said recommended book had a part to play in last Tuesday’s event: going out for dinner with one half of the duo that’s going to perform at our wedding in December. I interviewed one half of Keith and Renee a few weeks ago for the magazine that was kind enough to publish me, and Keith used to pop into the post office where I worked back in 200….3? On top of touring the world, travelling to Africa to build schools and water supplies and going across the country promoting positive messages and new albums, he plays in the same church band Sweet does on Sunday nights. Oh, and coincidentally does hot yoga every day, and is totally up for a buddy. Turns out the author of that book I’ve been reading is one of his favourites, too, so we chatted about literature, personal growth and making a difference in the world over dinner. One of the most POSITIVE people I’ve ever met in my life – it was great just to get to know someone so upbeat that little bit better, and with both of these people, it felt more like I was catching up with an old friend I’d had for years than someone I didn’t really know much at all. After dinner he drove me to the bookstore and bought me a book I “had” to have. When I asked why, he said “because you basically quoted the title of the book while we were talking,” and he felt like I was “meant” to have it. What was it called? Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.  If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know how incredibly meaningful and apt that is. I was left with a really good feeling of just finally having the right people on my path, who left me feeling like I could totally be myself, and that was absolutely okay, and full of encouragement, inspiration, and real self belief. I can’t even describe the sense of excitement I felt after two such awesome connections within such a short time frame.

Then came Thursday. The Meetup. I went to the pub to meet a group of “strangers” – the Winnipeg Creative Society ‘Secret Handshake’, who get together once a month for networking and chatting and sharing projects. Sounded totally my cup of tea, so I’d added a few people on Twitter before I went, and since it was around my birthday, what I thought was a  joke about cake and party hats TOTALLY became a reality when I got there.  I ended up quickly surrounded by about 40 people wearing elasticated pink cones on their heads, with a giant carrot cake, candles, all singing me happy birthday!! I “knew” maybe two people, who I’d only been tweeting with for a couple of weeks, and proceeded to chat with a whole bunch of other people about work, about creativity, technology, writing, art and sci-fi.  There were too many people to meet individually, but the ones I did get to connect with were awesome, and as a result I am apparently now starring in one advertisement, one music video, having ice cream with a new neighbour and going to a dance party at a composer’s house, as well as preparing for an ’80s karaoke night in drag. After the cake actually showed up, I’m taking everything entirely at face value. This is going to be fun 🙂  Someone caught some video clips on the night (and edited this on their iphone!!) (including the cake!)

Photos courtesy of Luc Desjardins @ http://www.at-first-sight.ca

I spent so many years consumed with the worry that I wasn’t popular enough, fun enough, or into the same things as most people, worrying about something being wrong with me because I didn’t have those Sex and the City friendships by which I seem surrounded. Only recently, I’ve been learning, writing, and thinking more about the importance of staying true to who you are and letting go of the cares and worries of how big (or small) a social circle is. I think it was shortly after my impromptu blogging rant that I really began to believe and carry out the notion that you shouldn’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not in order to fit in. If you have to carry around a persona that masks your true self, how will you ever have true friends? I spent far too much time prioritising popularity over integrity, and it almost shames me to say it. I guess it’s all part of growing up and finding out who you are. But these days, I’m learning that when you cease to empower societal expectations, almost dictations that you need to look or act a certain way in order to succeed in life, life just starts to become genuine, natural, and incredibly fulfilling. When you choose to let go of what doesn’t matter… the people that do will naturally start to flow in.

I feel blessed right now for the changes happening in my life, and excited about what’s to come in the near future. I sign off today with a song that I feel is quite fitting these days – reflecting a journey from fear to awareness, from old chapters to new journeys, from uncertainty to determination, and of the excitement I feel this very moment.


…Stars, hide your fires, for these here are my desires,
And I won’t give them up to you this time around
And so I will be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul…

BLOGGING RANT: The Cost of Self-Promotion

My bonnet is usually relatively free of bees.  But recently, there’s been a pattern in the blogosphere that’s left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.  It’s something Brittney touched on a few weeks ago here, and it’s all about bringing the fun back to blogging, and the reasons we all started doing it in the first place.

When I first started blogging “seriously” back in October-November last year, I was blown away by how awesome it was. By how many people there were out there who were willing to read my stuff, take the time out of their day to comment, and who also wrote great stories about their lives.  I loved getting to know people, starting to build friendships, going from a couple of comments a week to emails, text messaging, phone calls and the odd face-to-face Skype date.  In the last six months, I’ve met people who may be miles away, but I consider some of my closest friends. As with my friends back in England, I find distance doesn’t have to stand in the way of a good friendship.  But there are a few things I’ve seen  lately that really turn me off.

1: Bloggers who started with no traffic, just like all of us, who get to a certain level of blog-stardom, and use it as an excuse to all of a sudden become “authorities” on how to be a great blogger.  They start posting how-to guides on forums and networking and profile pictures, so you can be as awesome as they are.  It’s highly self-indulgent, and I find, borderline arrogant.  If I want more followers, I’ll invest the time in finding them myself. Or I’ll ask! I realise everyone’s reasons for blogging are different, but I read your blog because I’m interested in who you are, not because I want to be told I’m not “successful enough.”

2: Bloggers who fuel and listen to gossip behind the safety net of a computer screen.  It’s all so petty teenage angst fest.  I talked a little while ago about staying to true myself, even if that was at the expense of losing readership.  But at the end of the day, I know the person behind the blog is the same person that’s presented to the world. A person with real thoughts, ups and downs, questions and opinions and a good heart.  And that’s all that matters. Apparently, honesty is sometimes controversial. Sometimes not what people want to hear. So they’ll whisper amongst themselves and latch on to rumours without even bothering to question the truth. Why? Because it’s so much easier to go with the popular crowd.

I like to form friendships. I like to text and send snail mail to bloggers if they’re going through something bad OR good. I like to surprise people and I remain a loyal reader, commenter and friend. If they need help with a design project or a résumé, I will help them out. I like to build the foundations of friendship the same way I do in life – by showing I care. And it irks me to no end that some people lately have decided to completely drop me off their radars because they’ve “heard” something from someone, and haven’t even bothered to question the truth in it. It’s disappointing when you thought some of them were half-decent.

As much as it’s thrown in my face that these days blogging is a competition and the ONLY way you can be good at it is to have a million followers and a USB port in your ankle where you can stay connected to the online world 24/7, I write when I want to, about things that are important to me, and about things I think will really benefit other people. Things I care about, things I love, things I’m striving for and lessons I’m learning. Don’t get me wrong – everybody likes comments.  And I’m so thankful for each and every one of you that takes the time to read, and voice your thoughts every time I write. But I’m not going to compromise who I am because the Internet says I have to. And I’m going to continue making friendships with the people that really are awesome, and stop wasting time on the superficial.

3. Bloggers who sell out.  If I wanted to bombard my eyes with advertising I’d go and empty our recycling box all over my kitchen counter.  I’m coming across many blogs who used to write for the fun of it, and now seem more concerned with making a quick buck by slapping dozens of ads all the way down their sidebar. It’s not fun, it’s not pretty, and it kind of tells me you’re more concerned about the $2.75 you’ll make in clicks that week than you are about the writing itself. I don’t read your blog because I want to be inadvertently sold something.

4. Bloggers who capitalise on something you did as a favour to them. I try and offer kindness to the world because let’s face it, the world could use a little more of it. I don’t do it for a reward. But there’s something nice about saying thank-you, isn’t there?  It’s disheartening when kindness is met with egotism, and behind the blogging scenes things are a very different story indeed. Disheartening, yes… but not discouraging. The world needs more kindness, and none of us can control with what our actions are going to be met.  We just have to keep breathing… and reminding ourselves we do things for the right reasons. Right?

4. Bloggers who pretend to be somebody completely different from the person they are in real life. Life isn’t perfect. Everybody has bad hair days and breakouts and stomach aches and snot flying into their face.  If your posts are all rose tinted and I leave wondering if you live in some sort of magical secret cottage where woodland creatures must come in through the night to sew your clothes and clean your house spotless, then I’m sorry. NOBODY is that perfect.  I get it that we all want to present our best sides to, ultimately, strangers.  But how do you think people who DON’T live in said magic cottages feel reading stories (for that’s what they are) about how perfect your life is? Go write a book, or a soap opera, or get your own TV show, instead of trying to be a character. And pick a better one than Martha Stewart.

There’s a difference between being cautious, maybe for work reasons, and pretending to be an entirely different person. Maybe it’s because of some need for personal validation, and if you just pretend for long enough, then maybe people will actually believe it’s real. I don’t know. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’ll write about the bad stuff as well as the good. I’ll write about my struggles and my efforts to overcome them and what’s worked and hasn’t worked for me – not because I believe I’m some authority on personal growth, but because if I put it out there to the world, not only am I held accountable, but the world can see it. The emails from people appreciating the honesty and even finding inspiration just mean the world to me. I may not write about cupcakes, kittens and headbands, but at least I’m honest. I’ll take empowerment over self-importance any day. If you don’t write from the heart, and stay true to yourself in doing so – then what is it all for? A fleeting sense of popularity at the expense of your innermost self?

Brittney said it perfectly when she said:

Forgive me, and I may be a complete rarity, but I miss the personal/intimate side of blogging. It just seems that if we all follow these rules on what to blog, what not to blog, how to write, what to say, what not to say, what topic to avoid, what tone to use, what length to adhere to… then there will be very little point in my reading multiple blogs because we will all be the same exact person and I can just go to a single blog for everything. I like reading REAL blogs, with REAL bloggers writing them. I won’t stop reading your blog if your life doesn’t seem perfect, if your home didn’t just step out of Martha Stuart Living, if you have a zit, if you regularly consume obscene amounts of fast food, if you own exactly one pair of jeans that still fit and wear them for weeks on end (coughMEcough). In fact, I will probably like it MORE because you’re willing to be honest, vulnerable and human. I really wasn’t sure where I was going here, except to say that I want us to be ourselves and be okay with that. Blogging is growing into this awesome outlet, which rocks, but it’s also becoming home to 45243 writers who are creating fake personas for the sake of popularity or marketing and in turn, it’s losing it’s unique-ness.

Ask yourself the question today. Do you really know who you’re reading? Are you okay with being told what to do on your own personal outlet in order to be “successful”? Are you willing to give up your own passion and personality to conform for the sake of a comment count?  Is blogging really just turning into another popularity competition?

In life, I think the most important thing you can do is stay true to yourself, and stay focused on being a positive force in the world. It’s easy to get sidetracked by temptations, societal pressures, and worrying about what other people think of you.  It’s important to be authentic – and to be able to tell the difference between self-promotion and a fake persona.  Unfortunately, I’m realising, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult.  Yes, parts of the blogging world have disappointed me lately. But thank you to everybody who I know is willing to be real, who’s willing to stick around through the good and the bad, and who makes blogging such a joy most of the time. You’re all rockstars.  And I really wish there were more words to hyperlink in this sentence, because if you’re commenting on this, you’re probably one of them. 🙂

And, now that that’s dealt with, we’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow 🙂

Unmasked

Hannah Katy wrote an incredible post last week,  and it inspired me to write about something that’s been a bit of a regular in my life in the last few years.  First and foremost, I’m going to admit something: I despise fakeness. I also despise unnecessary negativity.  And recently, I’ve learned the unfortunate truth that the world, and the Internet, is full of it. But I’ve also learned that, as with so many things in life – you have a choice in how you let it affect you.

Growing up, I spent far too many pretending to be someone I’m not. I think what it came down to was the result of one too many bad relationships, leaving me with a pretty low sense of self-worth and confidence – and I desperately wanted to be seen as popular, to have people to “reaffirm” that I was worth something – at the expense of staying true to myself.

Image from Zemotion

Once I turned eighteen, as I think so many people do, I felt I needed somehow needed to define myself. Define myself with a career goal, with a group of friends, with independence and opinions… with an identity.  Several years went by, and I darted from job to job, boyfriend to boyfriend, friends to friends, in an ongoing endeavour to find myself. Find where I belonged.  Make myself into somebody that fit, in the secret hope that one day I would. You all know I had some rough relationship experiences, and I strongly believe were it not for those hard times, I would have remained the person I was five years ago. What motivation would I have had to change? After the last breakup, I decided this was the time to set standards for myself. To not just settle for anyone.  To be okay by myself and stay true to who I am, even if that meant being alone.  I learned a lot about myself by doing that, and it’s something that’s been an ongoing challenge. Not just in relationships (for the past two years I’ve been blessed with someone who’s believed in me, challenged me, and helped me push myself out of my comfort zone, seeing and believing in my potential) – but in friendships, too.

I don’t know how many of you subscribe to the notion of personality types, but it’s something I’ve always found intriguing, particularly in the Myers-Briggs ideas.  I think it’s fascinating how accurate the descriptions are, not just in terms of personal tendencies, but in how we react to any given situation, whether socially, at work, with other people, or in the face of adversity.  I am an INFJ (the “Protector”) through and through:

INFJs have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realise their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, they do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Not usually visible leaders, INFJs prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.

INFJs tend to be devoted to what they believe in and seek work where their needs, values, and ideals can be deeply engaged. INFJs, while concentrating on what is important to them, may ignore the political ramifications of their actions. Being able to talk honestly and comfortably to people at work is much more important to them than ‘playing games.’

The INFJ’s external environment may appear disorganized. Their internal environment, by contrast, is anything but haphazard. Organization of the internal world takes precedence over organization of the external world.

INFJs prefer occupations that focus on the big picture, involve conceptual awareness, and lead to a better understanding of the needs of people. They want their work to have impact and meaning. INFJs value staff harmony and want an organization to run smoothly and pleasantly, themselves making every effort to contribute to that end. They are crushed by too much criticism and can have their feelings hurt rather easily. They respond to praise and use approval as a means of motivating others, just as they, the INFJs, are motivated by approval.

Motivated by approval. Growing up, I had a desperate need to be affirmed in everything I did.  Doing things like acting, sports, talent shows, writing stories – being told I was good at something made me feel amazing. Later in life, I was a devout student:  I loved my assignments and I loved getting tests back. Being good at school gave me a sense of self-worth, and only in recent years have I realised why I so easily gave up who I was: to fit in. I needed the approval of others. Fastforward to summer of 2009 when I was crippled with anxiety, too scared to even eat lunch with coworkers for fear of what people may have thought of me. I wasn’t comfortable with who I was because I didn’t know who I was, and so it led me into a shell. Thankfully through determination, perseverance, faith, friends, and Sweet’s encouragement, I’m now at a point where I know who I am. And I know who and what I need (and can do without) in my life.

I am dedicated to making a positive impact in the world. I sincerely want to do all I can to help other people, whether  through my workplace, my personal life, or my blog. One of the many reasons I write is not only to document my life, but to write about the struggles, the bad stuff as well as the good, and overcoming it, in the hope that it might reach someone – and maybe even inspire them. The emails I get on the subject may be few in number, but mean the absolute world to me. Knowing I’ve inspired just one or two people means more than any number of comments ever could. I don’t write to be popular, and I don’t let online time interfere with real life. I’m easily hurt, but I refuse to maintain vendettas or seek revenge. I believe being able to live a good life while maintaining integrity is better than revenge of any sort.  I value interpersonal harmony and am deeply unsettled by conflict, yet I am passionate about my values and beliefs, and blatantly honest. I will always tell you how it is, even if it’s not what you want to hear. But it’s only because I believe in the power of truth.  This has resulted in people cutting ties with me and even getting fired from a job, but I will not keep quiet if there is something important to be said. I will speak up if I believe it’s for the greater good. I will not be taken down by those who continue to define me by my past mistakes – I will focus on continuing to better myself; the person I am becoming because of them. I will not let fear dictate my life. I will question the truth in rumours rather than continue them.  I will not follow the masses and ignore an elephant in a room, but will put a hat on it and maybe even hop on and take it for a ride. People may find that uncomfortable and distance themselves, but I will always stay true to myself. Because that, to me, is more important than popularity. I will write about the good as well as the bad, and refuse to create an online persona – even if that decreases readership. I may not be popular, but I am real. And you know what? I’m 100% okay with that.

Playing to your Strengths vs. Proving Yourself

I’m really lucky to work in an office with three lovely ladies I get along with so well.  We chat, we vent, we motivate each other with our goals and we get together at lunchtime to watch British TV on our computers.  They’ve become great friends, and yesterday, I was chatting with one of them about the idea of playing to your strengths versus feeling the need to prove yourself. 

Our organization is really great for putting people in roles they’re best suited for; I quickly moved into a position where I’m in charge of creating and booking all advertising and marketing material, as well as doing a fair bit of writing, whether for radio scripts, our website or people’s resumes.  I enjoy all these tasks, and after our “achieve your dreams” –themed retreat last year, I told my boss I wanted to challenge myself and start teaching.  

My wish was granted – the thought absolutely terrified me, but I was on a mission to overcome my anxiety and push myself out of my comfort zone.  I wanted to get my confidence back and stop being afraid.  So I was given one class every week.  These people saw past the fear and doubt and trusted me to develop a curriculum and actually deliver the information to people.  I’ve been doing it for a few months now, and yes, it’s become easier – I no longer get butterflies if I have to speak up in a meeting, and I can go into my little classroom and feel comfortable presenting my information, because I’ve had practice, and I remind myself I’m here to help these people.  I’m leaps and bounds from where I was, and I’m incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to grow. 

But yesterday I came to a realisation.  I had to give a presentation to a much larger group – and not just students, but other service providers.  Really Important People from across the province were coming to learn about what we did, and it was my job to represent us well.  I totally freaked out.  There were going to be twice the number of people I was used to, and the information wasn’t something I knew inside and out.  They weren’t coming in wearing jeans and hoodies, they were coming in wearing suits, armed with sophisticated haircuts and business cards.  This wasn’t my own little room, it was a big intimidating boardroom.  I was so far out of my comfort zone I panicked – and ended up asking someone else to do it.  For the first time in months I hit something too difficult.  All I’ve done so far in overcoming my anxiety has been little steps; small victories that have left me feeling that little bit more confident.  But this I couldn’t do.  

My current position is a term one that’s supposed to end in March, and the original plan was for me to go back to reception.  My thoughts: not going to happen.  Not to toot my own horn, but I can do a heck of a lot more than answer phones and make photocopies.  On top of the issue with the ergonomic factors and the back stuff I need to do throughout the day, I can’t do it.  So a few weeks ago, my wonderful boss and I had a little chat about The Future, and she told me, as long as we get funding (we’re a government-funded non-profit), there will most likely be a new position I can go into, involving all the same advertising and marketing stuff I’m doing now, as well as “more facilitation”. 

Yesterday, this got to me.  I’m incredibly grateful for everything they’ve done for me here, and I feel like since I asked for the opportunity to facilitate in the first place, I couldn’t really say I couldn’t do it.  They’re making a whole new position for me!  What sort of ungrateful cow would I be if I said I couldn’t do it?!  But I got thinking about the idea of putting people in roles that play to their strengths.  I’ve tried teaching, and though I’ve got a little bit better, it’s definitely not a strength.  I don’t think I’ll ever develop a love for being in the spotlight in front of people, and I don’t want to go to a job stressing out and being afraid to step into a classroom every day.  The experience has helped me immensely in terms of becoming more confident and less afraid, but it’s not a strength.  My strengths are in behind-the-scenes stuff.  I’m quietly opinionated and creative.  I love to write, and I love to design.  I could type for England.  I thrive in the sort of role I have now.  But I had to decide what was more important to me – proving to myself and the company that I was fully capable of being a facilitator (and forever being uncomfortable), or playing to my strengths?  

They say if you put someone in a position that doesn’t involve an inherent strength, they can learn – but they’ll never do as well as somebody who’s naturally good at it.  But if you put that person in a position that plays to their natural talents, they’ll excel.  A few months ago I heard this, and started questioning why I wanted to facilitate in the first place.  I think it was to put myself out of my comfort zone, and prove to myself I could do something I wanted to be able to so badly.  But it hasn’t developed into something I’m good at, and yesterday, my coworker and I were chatting about the importance of playing to your strengths versus proving yourself.

I started to worry, and had to email my boss asking what was meant by “more” facilitation.  What if it meant more people? Bigger classes, bigger chances to fail??  Maybe it meant “more often”.  I could deal with that – small groups, a few more times in the week would be okay.  I went home worrying about what I’d got myself into, and arrived back at the office in the morning to find an email from my boss. 

“Facilitation would be a small part of the position – and it would just be more small groups similar to what you’re doing now.  Don’t even THINK about work on your vacation!!!!”

So it looks like I’m going to get to keep the majority of my position – and the scary part doesn’t seem quite so scary after all.  If anything, it’s another small step in moving forward.  And it’s just the relief I needed before heading off next week.