I know you’ve been reading along since that first post because you couldn’t wait to find out how this blog is a silver lining… haven’t you? Well, the wait is over, my friend. I’m about to tell you that story.
I love my job. As I’ve mentioned before, I really didn’t even know such a job existed, but I also don’t know that I could have come up with any better of a fit for me if I tried. (And I mean legit job, things like beach bum and pina colada tester don’t count.) As this is my first real job out of school, I was a bit unsure how to react, though, when things got tough. Not the work itself, but the interpersonal dynamics of working in a team environment. (I know, could I be anymore vague? Just seems like a situation in which I ought to use a bit of discretion, putting it out there on the Internets and all…) Long story short, I took action, the poo hit the fan, things got craaaazy awkward and tense around the office, and a professional third party was called in to assist. I was pretty sure my life was over and work would be crappy forever and ever after. And that was the truth, for about 5 minutes.
The third party came in and I was resolved to keep my mouth shut. (Yeah, it’s like I don’t even know myself at all.) So naturally, when things got silent and awkward, I filled that space up with WORDS.
ALL OF THE WORDS!
My mouth was like, “Ha ha! Things may still be awkward, but at least that awful silence is GONE!” But my brain couldn’t respond because it had totally checked out. Yeah, this is a problem for me.
Except in this case, it really wasn’t. I talked. (Ok, let’s be honest, I suffered from a severe bout of verbal diarrhea. At least it was just the verbal kind.) But the good news is: it was contagious! (Again, it’s cool, it was only verbal.) And we all started talking and we had an honest and open dialogue and it was good. Even more importantly, my favorite third-party-man told me about an article he’d read in Time Magazine about Sheryl Sandberg and it sounded interesting to me so he routed it over the next day. Alarm bells went off all over in my brain (it had come back at this point)—I was excited! I logged on to Amazon, bought Sandberg’s book Lean In, had it shipped overnight (seriously, Prime, best thing ever), and then devoured it.
I highlighted the book. I called my mom and my sister and my friends from grad school and I made them all read it too. I read passages out loud to my brilliant sister-in-law and I forced everyone in my office to borrow my copy when I was done. I became an absolute Lean In zealot because I honestly believe it’s that important. It’s empowering to know that even the brilliant and successful Sheryl Sandberg feels many of the same insecurities that I feel. And she challenged me to do the things I would do if I weren’t afraid. This blog is one of those things.
So, as usual, I’ve rambled, and a recap may be in order:
Work. Trouble. Awkwardness. Third party. Dialogue. Lean In. Blog. Silver lining. Boom.
In addition to resulting in the conception and ultimate birth of this blog (waaaa!), I am grateful for the whole experience for several other reasons.
1) I am an extremely sensitive person by nature and this whole experience really thickened my skin. I endured a lot of crap in grad school and always expected that I would eventually develop that tough exterior, that I would stop taking things so personally, but I never did. Until now. My skin has grown so much tougher. (Of note: my skin has literally grown thicker. Just ask the nurse who did my IV before my endoscopy/colonoscopy. I believe her exact words were, “Oh! I’m sorry! Your skin is much thicker than I expected!” Totally worth the extra pinch to hear that!!)
2) My confidence in the work place has sky-rocketed! When I started, I was, to be blunt: mousy. (Which isn’t that cute on a girl as big as me…) I deferred to the opinions of others, rarely weighed in, and kept my head down as much as possible. I don’t feel the need to do any of that anymore. I express myself as calmly and professionally as possible, but I make sure that I am heard. (The THREE of you I called “nerds” today at work may disagree; that probably wasn’t a very professional thing to say. But you deserved it and you know it.)
3) I demonstrated to my co-workers that they can count on me and I know that I can count on them. We all went through this craziness together and although it wasn’t the ideal way to do it, I’d consider it a pretty good team-building exercise. I work with some seriously amazing people and I love them. I don’t know how I got so lucky!!
4) Finally, I learned that there are a lot of different ways to make things better– even when the system is fundamentally broken, and that’s an important lesson for me. Even when you can’t fix the problem, you can change your attitude and approach. And sometimes that’s enough. (At least in my limited experience, n = 1.)
So I guess my point is this: read Lean In. And then do it– lean in, you won’t regret it!
(And by “you won’t regret it” I mean: you probably won’t regret it. Who would have thought cloning dinosaurs would be such a bad idea? Not me… but that guy leaned in, and perhaps he should have leaned back. I think we can all agree that that’s a pretty extreme scenario.)