I’ve walked around the outside edge of the CN Tower (twice), I’ve ziplined, hang glided, given a TEDx talk, asked for what I needed, said no, said yes, and jumped out of a plane.
You’d think by now I’d be used to risk, change and new beginnings. I don’t think it ever gets easier, but I truly believe we all get better for the experience(s).
I’m nervous, thrilled, overwhelmed, honoured and so very excited to share that as of June 10, 2013 I will be taking on a new role as Manager, Student and Campus Life at Seneca College. This role is an amazing opportunity to build on the successes I’ve enjoyed over the past two and a half years, while also offering brand new challenges that will push and stretch me in ways that frighten yet exhilarate me all at once.
In taking the time to sit with and sit in this change, I remembered a post I wrote over a year ago when I made the transition from career services to student development at UOIT. In that post I shared lessons learned from “jumping in the deep end and learning how to swim.” In reviewing these lessons now, with the benefit of another year of hindsight and the anticipation of a new path to follow, I wanted to share what is perhaps an updated set of insights into what it means to not only leap, jump or dive into change, but to dance your way right through it.
1. It’s still not okay to avoid change, but now it’s even more okay to be scared of it.
At the start of this journey, and all the way through it until sitting down to write this post, I was scared. Terrified. Very afraid. Petrified of everything and anything. But, you know what? That’s okay. Change is scary. It’s ripping the familiar out from under you and uprooting everything you worked so hard to plant. It’s emotional whiplash that strikes when you least expect it and when you think you’re not ready (more on that below). But what was actually the scariest part for me wasn’t the change itself, it was how I felt about it. I’ve mentioned before my own struggles with anxiety, and this was by no means an exception. Finally, after a particularly intense round of shadow boxing the fear demons, one single thought emerged as I lay KO’d on the mat:
I do not need the extra and unneeded burden of blame and shame for feeling what I feel. This is the way I feel, and this is enough. There is no ‘right’ way to feel about what’s happening because no one else can feel exactly what I feel or walk the exact same path. Who I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve done and what I’ve felt make me, and my feelings, unique. I will stop wasting energy on being mad for being mad, or sad for being sad, and instead focus my precious energy on sitting in the change, working through it, and learning from it. I am enough, this is enough, and I will be okay.
2. There is absolutely never, ever (and I mean never) going to be a ‘good time’ to do anything. Period.
This truly hit home for me after I said ‘yes’ to the new job. Waiting kills potential and is a thief of opportunity. You’ll never find a perfect moment or the best time because ‘perfect’ and ‘best’ are ever changing ideals we put on continuously growing pedestals. The more we keep them out of reach, the easier it is to avoid doing things that scare us. Yes, I was waiting for perfect but I kept changing the definition of what perfect was so I never had to get there. I was fooling myself and you’re doing it too. Stop. Right now. Right now is perfect. You are the best person at the best time. The world needs you to dare and try. Today.
3. “You can’t jump out of a plane until you’re at 18,000 feet.”
My good friend James (the one who went sky diving with me), texted me this amazing piece of advice when I got nervous (again) recently.
I have been gifted with so many awesome moments and experiences over the past five months of 2013, and I have relished every single one. Each moment, however, is preceded by a series of smaller moments filled with anticipation. Will I? Won’t I? Should I? Why now? Each little question takes away just a bit more energy until there is nothing left for the moment itself. Even worse, each question robs you of the chance to experience the journey, to walk the path and to celebrate all it took to get you on that path in the first place. You’re going to have to walk the path, climb the stairs and maybe even go through hell to get there, but jumping out of that plane (or, in this case, accepting that job offer) is going to be amazing. Let’s stop getting stuck in mental purgatory and learn to love the (mental) limbo.
To paraphrase the great philosopher and scholar David Bowie again, I don’t yet know where exactly I’m going from here, but I absolutely promise it won’t be boring. Expect lots of questions, insights, bad jokes, even worse musical references from the 90s and a whole lot of awesome. I’m so excited to see what’s next, and I’m even more excited to share in it with you.