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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

38: Cutting Myself Some Slack

Hard to believe that another birthday is upon me, but here it is. Thirty-eight.

I have to admit that 37 won't go down in the books as my favorite year. Work has been harder than ever before. Both kids had pneumonia and Max was hospitalized for it, and then I was really sick with it too. We spent a big portion of the year renovating the house, which was the achievement of a long-held goal, but also relatively stressful to live through. I didn't write very much. I exercised even less. I had a hard time giving up something important to me. 

I realize too that a lot of it is my own attitude, tearing myself down, of not being able to be optimistic, not cutting myself any slack. Maybe it's a product of being only 38, as I have had many friends counsel me that upon turning 40, a lot of these things that I hold over myself, I just won't bother with anymore. There will be a lot more letting things go once I hit that magical age, or so I've been told.

That's another 730 days from now. And that's too long to wait.

So here, in no particular order other than the order in which they were written, are 38 things I'll be cutting myself some slack on over the next year. Maybe it'll inspire me to cut myself some slack over items that didn't make the list too. Here goes.

1. It's unlikely that my eyeliner is going to be perfect on both eyes at the same time.

2. I don't have to make the bed every day. I don't even need to untangle the sheets if I don't want to.

3. It's okay to want to wait until I see Max get on the school bus every day.

4. It's also okay to feel very stressed out by having to wait for the school bus every day.

5. It's okay to post on my blog two days in a row.

6. It's also okay to not post for weeks at a time, even if my mind still processes life through a blog post lens.

7. It's okay to think good thoughts about my friends more often than I can see most of them.

8. It's fine to be more aware of a variety of pop culture items than I have time to actually consume them.

9. It's okay that I'm not a big fan of reading books. I read a lot of things, but shorter works better for me.

10. Similarly, it's okay that I didn't make it to your book launch party. (I probably still sent you some good thoughts.)

11. And it doesn't mean that I might not write my own book some day. And want you to come to my book launch party.

12. It's okay to have more ideas than I have time for executing on those ideas. It's not okay to only be an idea person though.

13. It's okay if my "word of the year" is kind of a dud.

14. It's okay to feel sad about missing out on something, but not so sad that I miss out on everything.

15. It doesn't have to be perfect for it to count as exercise, so the need for perfection shouldn't stop me from doing it.

16. It's okay for me to watch The Real Housewives, but not of every city. That's just too much of a time commitment.

17. And it's okay for me to watch Grey's Anatomy until the bitter, bitter end (though I still think it's really good).

18. It's still okay to think about my miscarriage.

19. It's okay to go to bed at 7 pm once in a while.

20. It's okay to really, really want a woman to be President.

21. It's okay to drive the longer way home because the turns are easier to make.

22. It's okay to wear leggings as pants. Even me.

23. It's okay if the comment meant as a joke still stings a bit. It's even better to have a snappy comeback.

24. It's okay to take a sick day. (Someone please remind me I said this. I'm sure I'll deny it.)

25. It's fine not to like emojis, and to remember when "@" was the foundation for an Internet rose.

26. It's okay to embrace my strands of grey hair one day and pluck them out the next.

27. It's okay to still really like Twitter.

28. It's okay that I print out far too few pictures, so long as I keep taking them at all.

29. It's fine to use "Find a Friend" as many times as it takes to confirm Hannah's location. And to text her more than she'd like, too.

30. It's okay to talk a lot about our upcoming trip to Disney World because I am really freaking excited to go back to Disney World.

31. It's okay to coordinate the work rather than do it all.

32. It's okay to be fiercely proud of my Jewish identity and simultaneously acknowledge how complicated it can be.

33. It's okay to have a hard time finding 38 interesting things to say.

34. It's okay to want to eat the same things for lunch all the time.

35. It's okay to wear dark nail polish, even when everyone else in the salon wants marshmallow and ballet slipper.

36. It's okay to not really like wine and beer, and to hate the "drink away your problems, Mommy" memes.

37. It's okay not to throw out my old mix tapes, even if I can't play them on anything anymore.

38. It's okay to really enjoy jordan almonds, even if it's kind of ridiculous.

So that's my list. Happy birthday to me.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Staypiece: Ten Years With One Company

Ten years ago me
This week I'll celebrate my tenth anniversary at work. Well, celebrate isn't really the right word, as there probably won't be any acknowledgement of it at all, save for the fact that LinkedIn has announced it for me to those who have connected with me there. We are not a very celebratory kind of place, which is okay by me.

I've thought a lot about what it means to stay with one firm for 10 years, and I know how rare that is in today's job climate. Before this, I was with the first company I worked full-time at for almost six years. I guess that says something about me, that I must prefer some kind of stability, and I'm certain that I do. But in both companies, I worked hard to progress through the ranks, to earn an MBA, to take on more and more than I ever thought possible for myself. That's what I think most people try to do early in their careers though, and I'm no exception to that. But 10 years in one place is still a long time.

Last month, an article in The Atlantic crossed my Twitter feed, entitled "No One Cares That You Quit Your Job." Quit pieces have become an Internet staple, and I've read so many of them over the years, from law and finance to new parents who decide to give up the juggle. A quote from the piece, which was written in response to someone leaving academia (though one can substitute some other industries):
"Here’s the truth: academia is an amazing sector with some of the best features of any job, even if it also has substantial problems. Folks on the way out might feel like they're biting their thumb at something, and those still “stuck” on the inside of this troubled-but-terrific career might feel some welcome-if-temporary solidarity. But after that, it’s just more fodder for legislators, corporations, and the general public to undermine the academy. It helps nobody in the long run.
Why should anyone be impressed that somebody can quit something? Much more impressive is figuring out how to live with it. More staypieces, please."
So this is my staypiece. I've stayed as long as I have for a few major reasons, and while it hasn't always been easy (helllloooo, 2008), I'm still living with it. Here's how.

1) The quality of the people. I've worked with the majority of my team for the last seven years, and they are people of great substance. While my bosses (now, actually, co-workers) are demanding and hold me to a very high standard, I respect them a great deal and have learned so much from them. Those high standards have trickled down into my expectations as well, and I've learned that I need to balance those expectations with being an empathetic person, which is a greater challenge than just to demand what one wants.

2) I'm good at what I do. As someone who always had to work really hard at math class, I'm stunned that so much of my life revolves around numbers. I'm still not great at calculating things in my head or recalling facts to the exact degree, but I've found that I'm better at explaining these concepts than I knew. I've done a lot of different things over the last 10 years, and having a wide variety of opportunities has helped me to stay.

3) The flexibility I prize. I've said it before and I'll say it again, being able to work from home one day a week and work adjustable hours has meant the world to me. I know the fear that I might not find the same flexibility elsewhere has held me in place for a while, but I think I'd be able to negotiate that at many other companies today. But it's hard to be a pioneer, and so not having to ask for something so important to me all over again has just been easier.

I know that I'm lucky. I've been well-compensated, and I have great benefits, in addition to the factors I mention above. I never anticipated that I'd be here for 10 years when I started, but it's been a great ride. Here's to all that lies ahead.