My recent job change has reminded me of one key to success in living an unexpected life: don’t sit home and think about it! Do what you have to do. Carry on.
A few weeks ago, the night before my first day at my new job, my daughter asked, “Mom, are you afraid?”
Her question surprised me. No, I wasn’t afraid–I hadn’t even thought to be! (Quite a different experience than the last time I began a new job: 2009. And it made me realize, yet again, how far I (and my children) have come.) The last time I began a new job, I had been thrust into the middle of a giant nightmare of which probably every fear I’d ever had (rational or irrational), or that had been a part of a nightmare as I slept, or that was the worst-case-scenario from fictional Hollywood movies, were my sudden reality. (If I’m going to be honest about that time…I was afraid of practically everything! Including, even, my own name. Every time I said my name, Andrea Merriman, I feared someone would recognize it and judge me just based on that.)
But I’ve never believed fear is permission to quit or give up, however tempting that may be. (And thankfully I had four children to provide for, to keep alive, which helped me rise above the temptation to hide!) Fear just adds to the challenge of carrying on and of living. But you still have to do it.
So I faced my fears every day. I got out of bed and went to work, no matter how difficult; and many days, it was incredibly difficult–a sick pit in my stomach every Sunday night knowing another work week lay ahead; an inability to sleep at night worrying about the coming work week and wondering how I was going to get through it; crying all the way in to work; managing to get through the work day and then crying all the way home from work; and walking in the door to begin another “full day” of work as a single mother during the evening hours, catching up on everything I’d missed during the day while at work, helping with dinner, dishes, homework, laundry, housework, reading to a child and a few attempts at new family memories as well. I confess there were nights my 3 year old didn’t go to bed until 11 p.m. and I would later fall into bed, exhausted, at 1 a.m. or later to arise a few hours later, at 6 a.m. to begin it all over again!
But I guess the point is…that we did it. We got up, we faced our fears, and eventually we triumphed over them. And at some point, the sick stomach went away, eventually I was able to sleep at night, at some point I was able to get my youngest in bed at a decent hour, and I not only did my job, but had professional success which resulted in a new opportunity. Most of all, however, I somehow “forgot” to be afraid.
“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Get out and get busy.” (Dale Carnegie)
It worked for me.