Yesterday I attended an Administrative Assistant Conference. While I have attended quite a few conferences over the course of my career, I’m always looking for an opportunity to learn something new. I attended sessions about leading without a title, creating a partnership with your boss, being assertive and my favorite topic, emotional intelligence. I’ve probably attended at least five or six seminars on emotional intelligence and each time I learn something new. Not about other people but about myself.
This time around I learned that I have trained certain people in my life to treat me the way they do. Family members, friends and co-workers have all been taught by me that’s it is okay to infringe upon my “me time”, that it’s okay to say they will call and don’t, that it’s okay to come to my desk and stand there while I’m on the phone. I taught them how to do it by accepting the behavior and not lovingly or professionally correcting them the first time they displayed behavior. I didn’t tell them that wanting time for myself is not selfish, it’s necessary for my emotional well being. I didn’t tell them that I was disappointed when they didn’t keep their word. I didn’t tell them that I would appreciate it if they didn’t just walk up to my desk and start talking without first checking to see if I was busy.
Changing what I accept and allow will definitely raise eyebrows and ruffle some feathers and I am comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling that I might feel during this process. The process will be a little more difficult with the people I love. When you are not allowed to fully express your feelings because someone finds fault in them or tries to negate them with explanation, you are essentially robbed of the satisfaction of trusting a person you love with your deepest fears. I’m hoping that those who claim to love me will listen to what I have to say with their heart and not their selfish ego. I will admit I’m little afraid of how my personal relationships might change. However, what I know and believe in my heart is the relationships that have a strong foundation will survive and those that are superficial will wither under the weight of me standing in my truth. And I’m okay with that.
I had dinner the other day with a very good friend who expressed they were feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied with their job. They have worked for the same company for the last 25 years and the company is going through some management style changes that aren’t necessarily in the best interest of the employees. My friend is frustrated to see the company go through such a drastic changes and is thoroughly annoyed with having to do more with less. They expressed regret for not furthering their education and now they feel they are stuck in a profession they no longer enjoy. As I sat there listening to my friend, I thought about how I used expect the company I’m employed by to fulfill me. Before you say it, I already know the famous Steve Jobs quote, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” That sounds great for someone just starting out in their career but for someone who has invested 25 years of their life in a company and has a family to support, settling is not a bad thing. It’s responsible. (Click here to read: Five Reasons to Ignore the Advice for Do What You Love)
I asked my friend what would they like to do instead and they said they would love to be a photographer. I’ve seen their pictures and I think they take excellent photographs. So I continued to ask questions…what’s stopping you? Their response is what triggered this post….”I’m scared.” I kept pressing…scared of what? “Scared that I won’t be able to make enough money doing photography to support my family.” Here’s where my tough-love-don’t-give-me-that-crap kicked in. In a nutshell I told my friend that it is not written anywhere that they had to quit their good, well paying job (albeit frustrating at the moment) to become a full-time photographer. Do it because you love it. Do it because it makes you smile. Do it because you lose track of time researching different photography techniques. Do it because it makes you happy.
I shared with my friend that releasing my corporate job from the responsibility of making me happy was the best thing I could have done and I wish I had done it sooner. Writing this blog, being an active member of IAAP, writing a book, dreaming about writing a second book, volunteering for activities my kids are involved in, hosting girls night in for my girlfriends, spending time with people who make me smile and think deeper…those are the things that bring me joy and happiness. Don’t get me wrong, my paycheck, medical and retirement benefits are nothing to sneeze at. However, in the midst of feeling overwhelmed at work with the political red tape and “every man for themselves” mentality, it’s the thoughts of where I want the characters in my book to go and how cute my girls will be in their Girl Scout uniforms that bring a smile to my face. No job can do that and I stopped expecting it to. I write this blog in my free time. I work on my book after my girls are sleep. I make arrangements with my husband in order to attend IAAP meetings. If any of my interests eventually make money, then it will be the icing on the cake. For right now, I’m doing what makes me happy. I encouraged my friend to do the same. My friend shared they would contact another photographer to see if they could shadow them at an event and maybe offer free family portraits to friends just to get their feet wet. At the end of our conversation my friend thanked me for tough love and for listening. No thanks necessary, just encouraging another talented person to “work their package“…