Archive for February 2014

Humble Beginnings

ResumeWebIt’s been nearly six months since I walked into my employer’s office and asked for an internship. I had no formal training in web design, and I forgot the last name of my reference as I walked through the door. I was terrified.

Fortunately, I was invited back for an interview the next day, and started working the following week.

While setting up my laptop in the server closet, I was convinced that my biggest challenge would be learning the ins and outs of programming. I bought books and enrolled in online classes, thinking that I would succeed as long as I educated myself.  While I’m glad I did this research, I now realize that the real challenge isn’t learning a programming language; it’s surviving the office culture.

Now, I should say that my office isn’t a bad place. It’s filled with friendly, talented people that love skiing and Youtube videos. However, I’m having a hard time  finding my place amongst my peers. Many of my coworkers have been in the industry for years, and have created certain patterns for dealing with clients and projects.

Coming in with fresh eyes, I see quite a few patterns that don’t make sense to me, and leave me confused or upset.  I know my place is on the bottom of the totem pole, but I still see myself as a leader and a disruptor. It’s hard for me to sit back and work hard when I feel like I should be pushing to make changes and leave my mark on the company for the better.

So I’m seeking to find the balance between humility and confidence. Between being teachable while still sharing my own knowledge and experiences. I have no idea what this looks like, but I know this aspect of my life is certainly more difficult than any programming language I’ve encountered.

Change Is A…

Lightbulb Web

I used to think change was a light switch. It was something that went ignored most of the time that could, when flipped, illuminate for as long as it was needed. This way of thinking almost got burned me out of the profession.

Change is constant, and it is forever. Being a counselor is not about flipping the light switch of change. It’s about going with the flow, and charting it where you can.

I think the biggest change to my world view has been that I no longer see anything as static. I’ve seen people with everything lose hope, and I’ve seen people with nothing find it. I’ve seen people crumble under toxic partners, and I’ve seen them change the world with their strength and kindness. I’ve taken up causes I used to hate, and found skeletons in my closet I had completely forgotten were there.

It’s a messy world out there, and that may be why it’s beautiful.

Some of the old advice I gave for those wanting to be a counselor was this; be careful, because this job will dredge up your demons. I don’t know if I still think that’s a bad thing. I’m a better person than I was two years ago, even if I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to personal growth. And, even better, I’m finding out I can help others do the same.

I won’t end with describing change with some tired metaphor, but I will say this. I think everyone wants to change in some way; it comes with being human. I challenge anyone reading to keep this in mind- if you’re not changing in the ways you want to, you’re being changed by standing still.

Knock, knock

Knocker Web

Well, I’m no longer homeless.

Yes, after many e-mails, phone calls, text messages, and hair pulling, I have a great apartment. And now that my living situation is settled, it is time to get down to business.

According to BackStage.com, there are between 10-50 auditions taking place in New York City on any given day. When you eliminate female roles, non-white roles, and elderly roles, there are about 5-10 auditions I would qualify for a day. This is just one website (although it is the biggest and arguably the best), and if you search more broadly, you can find a few more reputable auditions. That and a lot of weird Craigslist postings.

In one week in New York, I could go to more auditions times than in my entire college career.

I have been very fortunate to have some awesome opportunities put before me in the past, but this town is a whole other level. I am surrounded by more chances to work in my chosen field than any other place in America.

And that’s exciting as all get out! I still can’t believe I moved here and I am thrilled to be right in the thick of it.

Now, I have to get a job in the mean time. But even if I end up working 40 hours a week, I can still audition every week. And plan to write about these auditions right here, on my next post. So, let’s see how many I can get to between now and then.

Because in this town, opportunity isn’t just knocking. She’s breaking down the door.

Shifting Sands

Palm Tree

Forty eight hours ago I was scraping ice from my car windows. Forty eight minutes ago I was drying myself off next to a palm tree after a late night swim. Montana and Florida may as well be different countries this time of year, and I’m still reeling from the 100 degree difference.

I came to Florida to help run a conference, but I’ve spent most of the trip thinking about dramatic changes. I’ve helped dozens of speakers from all over the world tell their stories of adventure and success, and with each presentation I’m reminded of how devoid I feel of both those things.

It seems every blog post and journal entry I write hints at some grand life change that’s just around the corner. I naively believe that a new town, new job, and new friends will change me into a different person. In reality, I’m more or less the same person I was five years ago. I just have new problems, a new wardrobe, and a different set of skills.

Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure. But I  know that holding myself to an imaginary, ever-shifting standard of success will only make things worse. My main goal should be to love people, and love doesn’t always look like adventure and success. I’m slowly getting comfortable with this idea, but I can’t say it’s an easy pill to swallow.

So for now I’ll just enjoy the palm trees, because dwelling on change won’t keep the sun from setting. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.