I Am Amazing: How ‘Thinking and Acting Like a Man’ Changed My Self-Perception

When I was four-years-old, I saw a commercial for Disney World and decided I wanted to visit Cinderella Castle. I started telling my extended family that my parents were taking me to Orlando (much to my parents’ surprise). One year later, my dad took my hand and walked me through the breezeway beneath the princess’ towers.

But somewhere between five and 30, I lost that unwavering confidence. I never considered myself beautiful, smart or strong. I was quiet and invisible. I worried that if I appeared too confident, others would think I was vain and shallow. I had to be perfect, of course, but others didn’t need to know how hard I worked at that perfectionism. I never wanted them to see how inadequate I truly was.

So, even though I had built a successful life for myself on the verge of 30, I felt completely dissatisfied and unhappy. With such a skewed self-perception, it’s mind boggling that I had even accomplished that much. I pretended to fly under the radar in my career, knowing full well I was capable of more. So, with the help of a life coach and a supportive network, I re-entered the job market. Continue reading

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I’m Burnt Out

I’m finally on vacation. I should be excited, right? I was certainly excited leading up to this week. But right now? I’m burnt out.

Ever since I entered the professional 9-5 realm almost a decade ago, I haven’t had more than 10 days of paid vacation per year (and some years, I didn’t even have that). It’s a luxury — paid vacation. But as someone whose independent nature lends itself to a career of freedom and autonomy, the structure of the 9-5 can be a struggle. I mostly stick with it for the benefits (so far, it’s been the only way I can afford my diabetes).

But some things happened this past week that made me question how I’m spending the majority of my time and whether I am actually on a path to self-fulfillment. And then I realized just how exhausted I am from all the pressure — pressure from my body (diabetes), my bank account, my career, my relationships, etc. I know that I will be leaving in a few days to a mountain getaway, free from worldly distractions. Yet, I feel I am losing momentum and motivation. Continue reading

It’s 2017 so Naturally I Decide to Uproot My Career

I wrote this post almost six weeks ago when I was about to embark on a positive change in my life. My computer is on the fritz so hence my absence since then. I was apprehensive about this move — the last missing piece in my effort to “live my stars” — but intuitively I knew it was the right decision for me. And now six weeks later even in the midst of this country’s current turmoil, I have never been happier. I like to think that being internally fulfilled will only enable me to make positive change externally. “Because when you’re operating from a place of wholeness and value, you see value in other people and you reinforce the belief that there’s enough to go around for all of us. So in this sense your self-worth is a service to humanity,” writes Danielle LaPorte in her book The Desire Map. Such power in that statement. Here goes…

Many folks have used the word “surreal” to describe the year that is 2016. I personally like the following quote a friend shared with me recently: This has not been a good year for women who try hard.

I’ll drink (and march) to that.

But for me, 2016 was a year of serious self-discovery. And although I wouldn’t necessarily categorize the vast majority of those weeks as a reflection of depression, most of those weeks really sucked (my elementary school English teacher would mar me for using that word but I can think of no better usage – okay maybe a few?).

Right before the actual election happened, I was focused on creative living and letting go of the things that inspired little to no creativity. I was also practicing self-compassion, allowing myself to be okay with feeling any kind of pain so that I could understand it and more easily bounce back.

There was just one problem. Continue reading

The Secret (Although Not So Secret Anymore) Answer to Burn Out

Burn out. It’s real. It sucks. It feels like that time when my cat launch attacked me (yes this is real thing) and bit into my arm, and I just let him because I no longer cared. I no longer felt the pain. (And eventually he gave up because what’s the fun in catching your prey if you can’t play with it?)

Working an office job is cozy. I have benefits and a steady paycheck and I can even close my door when I don’t want to deal with people anymore. I don’t deny that I have it pretty good. Even my parents are jealous of my perks sometimes, but I remind them that I live in DC in an 850-square foot apartment with a roommate because even with a cozy job with a paycheck that’s all I can afford. That’s DC.

But that doesn’t mean the job doesn’t get to me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t question the hours of boredom. That doesn’t negate the building indifference I feel towards my project list. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. It’s the first job I’ve ever had that truly satisfies me (okay to a point) but that doesn’t mean the stress, bureaucracy, inefficiencies, etc. don’t get to me. Continue reading

The Plague of Job Searching

No matter if it’s been three weeks or six months or two years, the plague of searching for a job is the same. It eats a hole inside your very core. Just like burnout, you start to feel resentment and finally indifference. No matter how many applications you submit, informational interviews you set up, and pay cuts you’re willing to take, you never feel satisfied. It’s like looking at the top of Mount Everest at base camp, hardly able to breathe, and knowing it seems unlikely you will ever make it to the peak.

This is not a fun place to be. It tears at you emotionally, mentally, and physically. As writers, we’re used to rejections, but unless our everyday livelihood depends on it, it’s not as brutal as a stream of job rejections. They’re not only rejecting you as a person — they’re rejecting your chance at a better life, a life you’ve worked so hard to build and yet to have crushed by an unstable economy and “lack of experience.”

My friend and colleague Dawn Gannon puts it blatantly when she says she wants to shout from the rooftop of her Baltimore row house: “somebody fucking hire me already!” We all know what she means. Kudos to Dawn for revamping her blog and starting with a difficult topic. I look forward to reading more. You should check her out at pinktintedbrain.com. She’s got some killer stories to tell.

Burn Out: How to Stay Passionate About Your Work

Burn-OutIt’s another day at the office. The usual 9 to 5, although ever since I started earning a salary, it’s more like 9 to 6 or 7. I love my job. In fact, in the 10 plus years I’ve been working, it is the first job I have ever loved, the first job I actually respect my co-workers, and the first job I’m willing to dedicate extra time for growth and advancement.

But there are also times when I despise my job, when I am overcome with negative thoughts and I wonder if all my time and commitment is actually worth it. I’ve never been truly valued in any professional job I’ve had. I’ve always been at the bottom of the totem pole. And although I now have two degrees and earning more, I am still young, and still at the bottom. A part of me wonders if this will always be the case, if due to this economy and my age, I’m destined to be at the bottom, forever hoping, but never quite breaking that glass ceiling.

Silly, I’m sure, but we’ve all experienced burn out. I’m usually good until the two-year mark, and then I realize how much I’m not valued, how the benefits aren’t worth it, and how much I don’t care about my performance anymore. So I find a new job or a new career. I’m happy for a while, and then it starts all over again. Continue reading

Thanks for the job. By the way, I have diabetes.

I never say in job interviews or on my first day that I’m diabetic. Legally I cannot be fired or reprimanded for my medical condition, but I make a conscious choice to pretend it doesn’t exist, like I’m “normal.”

Of course people warn me that I should tell at least someone I work with about my disease. Even though I manage it well, anything can happen and someone should know what to do in that situation.

Eventually, I do. I make a friend or someone asks about my pump or my glucometer, and then that follows with 10 million more questions about diabetes: what’s the difference between type 1 and type 2, can I eat sugar, do I have to take injections, does it hurt, etc., etc.

I’m happy to answer these questions. When I was diagnosed at age 22, I didn’t know what diabetes was much less how it would change my life. Why would I? I studied psychology in college. I was more familiar with the symptoms and repercussions of bipolar disorder than what a normal blood sugar range was. So I’m always happy to share my first hand experience with others. Well, almost always.

Continue reading