Never Saw That Coming

With change comes new beginnings.  This is hardly a newsflash to the average person, it just happens to be what has been on my mind. I spent most of January thinking about change and February made me think of new beginnings.  Change always makes me feel weird and I have been that way for as long as I can remember.  A friend recently compared me to a tree.  Trees are stable, strong and grow where they have roots.  Transplant a tree and it may fail to flourish.  I guess I have always felt change was a source of uneasiness and instability which certainly highlights my discomfort with the unknown.  When I think of major changes in my life and it took time to adapt to any particular event. I never used to view changes in my life as new beginnings, instead would dwell on what I was leaving behind and the what ifs and the unknowns.  I never liked the feeling of doing something before I was ready; though sometimes it is probably better to be pushed into the proverbial ocean even if you are unsure what you are swimming towards.

My family moved when I was 10 years old and I felt uprooted (anyone moving to New Jersey for the first time may agree!).  I knew nothing about my new school and knew no one in my class.  It was a sea of the unknown for me.  I had a difficult time adjusting and spent my 5th grade year as the awkward, taller than everyone, new girl with braces.  Thank goodness I did not get glasses till 5 years later!  It never crossed my mind that I had a new beginning in front of me as I just really wanted to return to my old school and all the friends I left there.  I wonder what it would have been like if  I had felt a new school and a new town were an opportunity instead of something foreign, uncomfortable, and awkward?  It was hard to see change as a positive thing at a young age while I was walking around with a neon sign over my head that said “NEW KID. POKE FUN HERE.”  Going all psychotherapy on myself, that experience could be one of the reasons I am very introverted in new situations.  I used to think people just didn’t like me when they met me and eventually learned that was not really the case. As an adult, I went into sales to force myself to be an extrovert in my day job which helped me learn new ways to address new situations.  When you work in sales, you have no choice but to be outgoing. It can be a struggle some days and other days I still surprise myself.  I am definitely still the socially awkward 10 year old underneath it all regardless of my age and experience.

I recently got reorg’d (questionable spelling) at work.  I was feeling weird about the change because it was unexpected and rather abrupt.  I was used to my soon-to-be old boss’ style and had adapted accordingly and now I had to start all over with a new boss.  I really felt odd for a couple days after because it was a CHANGE and there were many unknowns at play.  A new year at work always means new budget, new expectations, new business and now a new, green boss? I gave it thought and decided to take this change as a learning opportunity in spite of all the unknowns.  My new boss is in a big learning phase and I realized there are ways I can help him. I know my book of business like the back of my hand and have perspective that I can bring to the table for him.  I decided I would stop feeling weird and work to help my boss speed up his learning curve. I can be proactive and embrace the change rather than just watching it unfold.  Why not work collaboratively to make our new team look good in front of senior management?  I have no idea what any of it will mean necessarily but decided it would work better for me versus getting my nose out of joint about a curve ball.  It’s a new beginning for me, new exposure and using the change to my advantage will probably serve me well down the road.  Go with the flow and figure out it on the way and worry about the rest later.

As I think about it, to get to a new beginning, there are changes that may first require patience and trust in the unknown before an outcome or new opportunity presents itself. There are times when it is just necessary to trust in what seems unclear. Why is this happening? Why is nothing happening?  What is going to happen?  What am I missing?  The unknowns have been hard for me historically as I like to fix things and also understand everything all the time.  I used to open the Christmas gifts under my parents bed when I was a kid (use knife to slit the scotch tape, re-tape gift).  I just liked to know what was coming my way.  

I have had many experiences in my life when patience was required (unbeknownst to me until I saw an outcome good or bad) and I ended up worried, anxious, or over thinking all while trying to figure out things that probably hung in the realm of unknown for a reason.  I had to learn I cannot know everything all the time and sometimes it is better to know nothing until the right time.  I can look at situations in my life where putting my faith in an outcome would have served me better.  There are times when it is just better to observe and gather information and do nothing.  Telling myself to worry later is much more helpful than trying to find missing pieces of a puzzle.  Worry later means (to me), the answer will come at a different time so just be patient. Just the other day, while talking to a friend, I heard myself saying, “I am just going to put my faith in the fact that this will work itself out.” Did I really say that? Surprised myself. It is far easier to believe what needs to happen will happen and worry about details later. Timing is a variable, people and their life lessons are a variable, location is a variable, etc. When things change, all of the variables probably need to be aligned (whether good or bad) and sometimes it is just better to let things fall into place rather than trying to pull the curtain off the unknown before the time is right. When you bake a cake, you cannot rush the baking process.  If you turn up the heat to try to make your cake bake faster, it may burn.  Put it in the microwave and it will blow up. If you take it out of the oven before it is done, you will likely end up with a flop.  Put your cake in the oven according to baking instructions and you will end up with what you hoped for at the start.

When I begin writing, the conclusion of my post is usually an unknown  (irony).  As with 2014, I have no idea how the year will end up.  I really felt like January was a swirling vortex of change for me and though things are still changing, I have seen many new things start to rise to the surface with the onset of February.  Whatever is going to change will and it all may be outside that which I can control.  I would even say how I respond to things is an unknown because who can predict what will happen tomorrow or next week. And that works for me.  It is actually really fascinating to think about what new things may happen and what new opportunities will pop up.  It is always pretty cool to look back on something and say, “Well I never saw that coming” instead of “I was afraid that was going to happen.”

Thank you for reading this blog (apologies for any typos)!

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