Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Answer to Yourself

Sometimes, it feels like the world is spinning out of control. This can be both good and bad. Perhaps your work just got noticed, which then lead to awards, promotions and offers. There's a lot to think about. On the other hand, perhaps someone you know just passed away, your car was hit and work is a struggle. Both strings of events are possible.

It can be hard to think clearly in either situation. Keeping track of details, meeting deadlines and obligations, and oh, the paperwork. Yes, the paperwork.

Inevitably, you get bogged down. You forget something or miss a deadline. Or perhaps you had to pass up a good opportunity because the hint of a great opportunity is nagging in the background.

Something's got to give. Who do you ask for help or advice? How do you organize, get a grip and focus?

Really, I feel like the answers to these questions might just be different for different people. And I'm not the type to rely solely on other people's input. Sure, I'll ask for advice, but I'm just as likely to ignore the advice and follow my gut instinct.

I found myself today in a conversation with a friend about what the next 6-8 months holds for me. (This is a common conversation among NPS seasonal rangers.) I kept saying, "I don't know," over and over again. And sitting here, seven hours later, I still don't know.

Perhaps this is part of my growing up. But I'm trying not to make assumptions about my thoughts and feelings. I'm trying to weigh my options in light of my own goals - goals for both the short term and long term.

The key is that I need to answer to myself. I am the highest authority on myself - no matter what people around me may say - and I need to not let myself down. I need to NOT cave to peer pressure or outside influences. I need to do what's right for me. I need to pick something and do it well. I need to do a job in a manner such that I can be proud of what I've done.

How do you answer to yourself?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great American Ommission

Today something hit me. There is someone in my life who is "very thorough". (Isn't that politically correct?) This person is almost detail-oriented to the point of fretting over details that never even existed in the first place. It's almost like this person needs something more to do with her/his time. But because of her/his status, s/he generally makes me feel like a failure, almost 100% of the time. I fret and worry as to why I didn't notice details - many of which probably don't matter at all, but seem to be a huge deal to said person. I am drained of my energy and ability to think. I need a good bit of time to recover from this person - a person who is always giving unsolicited advice and "help". Especially when I don't ask for or need help. This person is still there, advising away, like he or she has got all of the answers, as though I can't think for myself. When I'm alone again, I feel like my life comes back to me.

It's those times, right after interacting with this person, that I'm truly grateful for some alone time. I need a few moments to clear my head, figure out if I'm ok, figure out what I'm thinking and what my next action should be, and generally relax.

This week, I'm reading through the book, _Introvert Power_ by Laurie Helgoe, Copyright 2008 (Sourcebooks, Inc., Naperville, IL). I read through a section last night that finally meshed this morning with what I'd figured out about the interactions I mentioned earlier.

Regardless of how dead we feel in a crowd, we cling to the uniquely American assumption that associating is good and necessary and solitude is suspect... Solitude is indeed "the great ommission in American life." We are told to have family values, to be a team player, to have a huge wireless network. More is better and there is never enough. How did we get so far away from our selves? (emphasis mine)

Is there something that should be left out of your life?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Introversion... A beginning of my journey

For a year or so now, I've been dealing with the concept of introversion.

Not that I just became an introvert. But because I work in a place where our staff takes personality tests to better understand ourselves, team dynamics, etc. On one test (for the life of me, I can't even remember which one), I'm a 1. Whatever that means.

On the famous Meyers-Briggs test, I'm at INTJ. Along with, perhaps, a whopping 3% of the U.S. population.

Earlier tonight, as I was reading (researching) about this introversion, a passage made me think back. More than a decade ago, I had a roommate. We'll call her Charlotte. Charlotte was very concerned about being social and hung out at the local college bar scene at least once a week. Now, Charlotte and I were in a lot of classes together, so we knew a lot of the same people. However, we did have very different personalities. Whereas I would go home and get to my homework (she often did too, she was a good student), whenever the opportunity presented, she would go out. I never did, at least to the bars where she went. I had friends and a job, but the bar scene made me cringe. I remember, distinctly, standing on the front porch of my house at the time, listening to Charlotte criticize me for being "anti-social". It was a problem that I was going to have to get over. If I was going to be a "normal" person, I was going to have to get over this "anti-social" habit and go out to the bars and drink with the "normal people".

Fast forward to present day.

Sitting at dinner a week or so ago, a friend used the word 'introvert' when referring to some tendency of mine. There you go. There's that word again. And a friend who I see maybe only 1-2 times per month thinks the Introversion sticks out like a sore thumb. I can't remember the exact context, but he wasn't making fun of me. Merely just pointing out that I wasn't telling him what I actually thought. I so wish I could remember during which part of our conversation this reference was made. Memory isn't my strong suit either. *sigh* I know this friend cares; he tends to take care of everyone around him, always fixing things, solving problems, etc. He's a generally nice person, very intuitive and thoughtful. I've learned through many conversations with him that, when he is serious, I should listen. (Remember the commercials in the 1970s and 1980s based on the phrase, "When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen"?)

I really dislike labels and I try to not think in terms of them. But I think I'm going to have to figure out this label of mine. So here's a confession:

When people walk by me in the street and say, "Hi, Jen. How are you doing?", I have no idea what to say back to them. My first instinct is to run away.