Saturday, March 12, 2016


When I was in my early twenties, either I really did enjoy spontaneity, or I was so insistent that I enjoyed it that I forced it with an enthusiastic smile. I'm not really sure which it was, but at any rate I lived my life with a lot of unpredictability and I don't remember a lot of fear involved. I made changes all the time and to varying degrees; Whether it was a last-minute night on the town or I decided to rent a U-Haul and move to a different city or apartment, I never seemed to sit still long enough to get too comfortable or to reflect on what was really going on.

But there are a lot of elements that usually come with your twenties that nurtures one's tendency to be spontaneous. Most of the jobs you have in your twenties are disposable and friends seem to come easily no matter where you move. Often children and spouses aren't in the picture. Funds are limited, but where there's a will, there's a way. And in my twenties, I willed myself all over the place with little thought, no plans, and that seemed to suit me fine.

My mistake was thinking that because that's how it had always been, that's how it was always going to be. If I like to fly by the seat of my pants at 23, I will like to at 37, right? I was so married to this part of my identity that I held onto it long after it was clear that I wanted more than my impulsive lifestyle was going to yield. But routine and predictability seemed so lame, so boring, so old.

But I wasn't 23 anymore, and my body couldn't keep up with unpredictable me anymore. So I grudgingly began to identify with the woman who wanted routine and the safety and comfort it provides.

But now that I've been my lame, boring, old self for several years now, I've swung too far in the other direction, and not only do I shun spontaneity, but I dread any change, period.

So when, in the last six months, I went from being an special events assistant to being a regional operations manger for twenty-six freakin' sites from coast to coast in my organization, there wasn't just anxiety. There was full-on, nauseous, white-hot panic.

Because of my terror, one would think that I was just offered this leaps-and-bounds promotion out of the blue and that's why I panicked. Oh, no. I did this to myself. I researched the job, I fired up the ol' resume (after asking a bunch of twenty-year-olds what their resumes looked like. Who knows how the kids are doing it these days. Are they still even called resumes?) and drafted a cover letter after making my best friend read and re-read it until her eyes bled. I contacted old references and had a heart-to-heart with my boss, who I love and love to worth with. So you would think with all this effort, this promotion would be something I really wanted, right?

In my years of sobriety, I have learned that I can often control my anxiety by focusing only on the present. So I told my husband, "I'm not going to think about it. I'm going to apply, but I'm not going to think about the what-ifs. No what-if-I-get-an-interview. No what-if-I-don't-get-it-and-this-was-all-for-nothing. No what-if-I-actually-get-the-job. None of it." And I did. I let it go.

The problem with this strategy, though, is that when I did get the call and they offered me the job, I was totally, utterly unprepared. And so my first thought was crystal clear: "WHAT have I DONE."

All the reasons (and there were many) that I wanted the job went out the window. All I could foresee, and all I could feel, was the dread that comes with major change. Everyone around me, including my husband, was ecstatic and saying all the right things. "You are PERFECT for this position!" "You finally get to work from home like you've always wanted!" "You are going to LOVE this role, I know it!" "You are going to be so happy!" And they were right. I knew they were right. But fear penetrates reason and common sense, and it's hard to talk yourself down from that ledge once you're on it.

Of course, I accepted the offer, but with very little eloquence because I was concentrating on not peeing my pants. It's been about a week and a half since then and in that time, the wheels of change have been in motion. I'm training a new person to take over my old position. I've ordered new furniture for my home office. I've signed contracts, ordered new tech gear, and even made my first travel plans to Texas to help manage one of the events there.

So I'm putting one shaky foot in front of the other and trying to embrace it, because I know old routines will give way to new routines. I know that this change is good. I know I have a lot of support and my friends and colleagues are confident in my ability.

And whenever my self-doubt and fears start to creep up, I remind myself that my new office is going to look something like this.

Pretty soon now you're gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
--David Bowie