No self-respecting Spanish gets out of bed before midday on a Saturday. All the people walking Calle Larios, the main street, at 10am are tourists. If it weren’t for the time of day, you could tell from the clothes anyway. Oversized t-shirts, a lack of accessories and hair bundled up or left scraggling around their shoulders.
These are not the Spanish chicas. Spanish chicas are brutal when it comes to fashion. They are perfectly bronzed, slight heels, covered in accessories, long hair flowing down their back.
There was this time about a year ago in Spain when I turned around and saw that end moment when you know two people have been looking at you. One of the chicas raised her eyebrow at the other and they laughed. Every girl knows how to read that message of, ‘As if you would wear that.’ or ‘What even IS that?’
It took me a moment to work out why I deserved it.
My dress was too big for me but I bought it anyway. You know when you love something. Not a fashionista (I only care so much) I’d tied the material belt into a half-bow, sitting at the centre of my back to make it the right size and promptly forgot about it. Out of sight to me, but not the chicas.
Of all the effort I’d gone to that day, the hair, the make up, the waxing, the nails, the perfume, the dress, the heels, she’d noticed one tiny thing a little odd.
It was a shame cos I was quite keen to be friends. My Spanish is better in Madrid, where they remember to use the ’s’ sound and breath between sentences. I watched them walk away a little sad that I’d been a little lazy about the oversized belt and that it was something that mattered so strongly to her.
Because I’m a Pastor-by-trade and there’s a freakin’ object lesson in everything, my mind reminded me that…
Focussing on the negative shuts life down. Shifting attention to the positive opens life up.
At that time, I was so negative about my life Before. About life in the church. I was processing anger over the way it had shut my world down and encouraged me to make decisions that weren’t right for me. I was dealing with the feelings of betrayal, the incredulity that no-one told me, that the whole time people were actively keeping me from knowledge of things under the guise of ‘protecting me’. I was working through what my relationship with the past was going to be moving forward; to forget, to pretend it doesn’t exist, to write, to be actively against, blah blah blah…
It reminded me that, while acknowledging the negative is crucial to dealing with it, focussing on the positive is a key part of actually moving on from it.
My experience growing up fundamental took away a lot of things. If I look hard enough though, it also gave me a lot of things.
For those of us who have gone through that, if we’re to live the next phase of our life to its fullest, we need to mine our past for gems that give us some appreciation of it.
This is acceptance. It is letting go of bitterness. It is rescuing the present from the clutches of the past.
An exercise. Here are the good things I’ve gained from growing up Fundamental.
So now an exercise for you… what good things did you get from growing up in religion?
So writing blogs when you’re working full time is a *bit* harder than I imagined!! It’s also difficult when you need to move house twice in a month, because it became clear two weeks in that you live with Oscar the Grouch’s evil OCD twin… am happily installed just this morning in a new house, completely muppet free.
It’s now coming up to nearly two months living in Sydney in my new job and it’s nice to be able to say, I’m totally happy. Doing nothing in Spain for nearly a year showed me that I’m more than a career but being able to mesh earning money with something challenging and meaningful is totally the dream.
Daaamn though, but getting to that point was a PROCESS. After it became clear the world does not, in fact, need saving from Satan, all the rest of the job opportunities out there seemed, well, slightly lack-luster. Couple that with some existential confusion, disconnection from old friends and too much sangria the night before and you’ve got me in a cafe in Spain being all like ‘WHAT AM I ABOUT!?’
Frankly, it’s AWFUL not knowing what you’re about. Maybe it’s awful-er for me cos I’m wired that way but I’ve heard a lot of people trying to work this out and not just 20-somethings. There was a good six months there where I’d decided to move on from Spain and really Do Something and yet still had no idea what that Something was.
The worst thing is websites telling you to ‘List Your Passions’ and then work out how to get paid for doing those passions.
This is ridiculous.
You can’t list your passions if you don’t know what they are. Which means I must’ve been more lost than most people. Maybe that entitles me to some level of expert-navigator-of-life-decisions status or something…
With that title in mind, here’s my thoughts on how to Find Your Way when you’re just totally firkin’ lost.
1. Embrace Jealousy
I’m not jealous of the Prime Minister or a Scuba Diver instructor or a Fashion Stylist even though all of those jobs are pretty cool. I’m only ever jealous of people with their own businesses or in consulting. Jealousy is a clue to what you want in life, so ask yourself who you’re jealous of and start channeling that evil greeness somewhere productive.
2. One Step At A Time, Don’t Worry About Where It Will Lead
I found a business I totally loved around November-ish and noticed that the founder was speaking at TedX Amsterdam. I love both Amsterdam and TedX so signed up as a volunteer and used it as an opportunity to speak to the owner of the business. I met a few other interesting people as well and just generally fell in love with Amsterdam. If I hadn’t taken the one I did in Sydney, the fall-back plan was to go to Amsterdam. The more you know, the more secure you’ll feel in your options.
3. Take The Shot
Now’s the time to take a shot at all those things you thought you were never good enough for. Possibly you’ll find out you’re not good enough for them. No stress. At least you know now and you won’t be on your death bed all like ‘If only I had…’. I applied for those management consulting roles I’ve always known I wasn’t qualified for. The rejection was bitter sweet.
4. Notice how you feel
After researching design agencies I felt bored. After researching a business concept I felt tired. After researching Innovation Consultancies I was jumping through my hallway to grab my laptop for more reading over cooking a chicken risotto. Picking a direction to follow ain’t something you wanna do with your head. It’s all about the heart so just listen hard, then go with it.
On the other hand, if you find you’re feeling constantly depressed about Getting Onto Something or keep putting it off, you have to ask yourself why? I feel like that with this blog sometimes – there’s lots of should’ve done last year to make it ‘Popular’ but I just didn’t. I’m not a lazy person so to me that was a sign that this is a hobby and not a profession. You never know what letting go will open up…
5. It’s. So. Easy. To. Talk. To. People.
I don’t know if we’re just on the cusp of this socially connected world and so people are more open to approaches from random strangers they don’t know. Perhaps in a few years it will become such common practice that people get over it and stop saying yes. But right now, it’s totally possible to LinkedIn message any person you come across in an article and ask them if you’re able to catch up for coffee.
You don’t need to talk to the person doing what you want to be doing in 10 years. Just the person doing what you might like to do tomorrow. An analyst or design strategist is quite flattered to get a request to be taken out for coffee to talk about themselves and give advice.
6. It’s sickening.
On coming back from my visit to Amsterdam stalking said Business Founder, I mentioned to my friend that it hadn’t gone as far as I’d thought it would go, aka being offered an internship or even being able to see their offices. When he told me I had to mention I was looking for opportunities I wanted to vomit in my spaghetti carbonara. I’d just wanted to have a nice conversation without any soliciting.
This is just something you have to get better at. The best way to get comfortable with it is to see someone else do it. I saw a young girl do this at a workshop, looking for an internship. When you’re honest and intentional about your search, people understand that you’re not trying to screw them over and will connect you.
7. Ask for help
Everyone knows someone who knows someone who can help you. Now’s the time to ask for advice from people you only met once or twice. Anyone up a particular career ladder totally gets it and is more than willing to help out. The number of coffees and lunches I bought… the greatest value in these conversations was not necessarily connections but the way they allowed me to frame my experience and skills for the industry I wanted to get into. Each conversation refined My Story until I was sitting in front of my current boss, confidently spurting off the couple of lines that demonstrated my worth.
8. Give Your Heart A Break
It’s not the effort involved in searching that tires you out – it’s just living with the constant uncertainty. Don’t let yourself get so fatigued that you just take whatever’s in front of you rather than keep going for the dream. Give yourself a break every now and again so you’ve got the energy to keep pushing for the Best.
My greatest realisation is that these things take time. I used to be time’s worst enemy and now I’m it’s biggest friend. Relax into time, do what you can, follow the leads, give it your best and eventually opportunity will collide with your preparation to give you what you were looking for.Read More