Sh*t (Sometimes) Happens

I would like to say that 2017 is the year I get sh*t done, even though I started this blog back in 2016 with the same intention. Sh*t happens. It’s what you do next that matters most. This is one of my focus areas for 2017 – what do I do when sh*t happens?

I tend to over worry about everything. Anxiety is nothing new to me. Sometimes sh*t happens, and sometimes the sh*t is only happening in our heads. This weekend I replayed a conversation I had at work last week that left me feeling worried. I started second guessing my overall purpose in my job. It didn’t take long for my brain to jump to all kinds of conclusions. Tonight, while relaxing with my “Be Inspired: Design Coloring Book – Patterns by Eijffinger”, I tumbled into the thought that I’m just no good at graphic design.

This is a prime example of sh*t happening…in my head.

Because one negative thoughts breeds more negative thoughts I came up with this gem of insecurity: If I’m no good at graphic design, I have no purpose for the work I do.

That negativity was followed up with how much I dreaded going to work in the morning because nothing I do in my job gives me any sense of purpose.

Again, sh*t happens sometimes only in my head.

Purposelessness is a feeling I got used to having in my 20s and 30s. I clung to it because it was the devil I knew. A change, a risk in doing something new was, well, new and scary! What if I failed?  What if I found out I was terrible at the new thing? In all that time I never considered that discovery requires risk, that there are things I am definitely going to suck at, but I will always feel purposeless without trying to find what I love doing!

Somewhere along the way I realized that none of my negative feelings were true. Sometimes I want to tumble down that rabbit hole of self-doubt but then something always happens to remind me that those thoughts are false.

Tonight my mother’s voice popped into my head. Can anyone else “hear” their mother’s voice when they read her texts? Well, I can. She sent me this text: “I returned to line dancing on Monday. I wore my elephant t-shirt you created. Several people commented on it.” *One of her classmates, Barbara, a “working $$$$ artist”said she liked my shirt very much.

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This snapped me back to reality. 1. My elephant drawing t-shirt is super cute thus proving that I have some talent. 2. I can’t let my insecurities get to me. I can’t travel down the road of insecurity without a lot of unnecessary pain. 3. My job is what I make of it. It’s up to me to give my job purpose or not. I believe, honestly, that my job helps a lot of people do good things for our community.

Sh*t happens. Sh*t happens in my head. When it happens in my head I have to focus on how I react to it. I can only do my thing. I can come home and pile on more sh*t. Or I can keep drawing, keep doodling, keep playing around with paint and clay. There is nothing to do but deal with it.

In life you need one thing to survive: The ability to realize shit happens. You step in it. Accept it, get over it, and move on. 

 

*The fact that a working and paid artist likes my shirt is a high compliment. Mom and I both think that if you are a working and paid artist you are living the life! At least the life we want to live.

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Getting My Sh*t Together Through Gratitude

This is a boring trope. Everyone from Oprah to the Dali Lama has told us to keep a gratitude journal. They say the benefits of doing so are numerous including being more present and being happier. I have tried to keep a gratitude journal before, writing in it every night before bed. But usually by that time I’ve forgotten what’s happened during the day.

I’m not saying I hate my job, but I’m not saying I love it either. It’s a struggle right now. I feel like I’ve done everything that I can to make the office a little less stressful. It’s just not enough though. So I turned podcasts for inspiration. After listening to many, many experts tell the audience that we can’t change the actions of others we can only change our reactions to those actions I was about to give up. When you’re very stressed out that bumper sticker psychology just isn’t going to cut it. But in the last podcast I listened to it was suggested that until the stressful situation ends we should keep a work gratitude journal.

I have a Field Notes notebook sitting on my desk right in front of my keyboard. I pull it out and write down what I’m grateful for at the moment it happens. Some days it’s a struggle to find something to be grateful for but committing to writing something down has me looking for things. What about this craptastic day stands out? Even in all the angst, what is one thing that went right today?

Yesterday was a particularly bad day. One of those is this really all there is to my life kind of days. Mid-day my co-worker comes in and tells me that she has finally found her office key. Gone went the bleakness of the day. She’s been looking for that key for about four months. She was genuinely happy to find it, and relieved too, I’m sure. Seeing how happy she was just made my day. It might sound silly to anyone else but when things are bleak any good thing deserves recognition of gratitude.

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Writing things down has also helped me evaluate my past jobs. I started thinking about what made those jobs good. I wish I had had a work gratitude journal back then. I may have saved myself a lot of perceived angst and problems.

I have two rules for myself:

  1. Nothing negative goes into the gratitude journal.
  2. I will name names in my journal, and that’s okay.

Here’s an example about not putting anything negative into my gratitude journal. I was recently interviewed for another job. I was absolutely sure I was going to get it, but I lacked the financial training to do the job. I was not offered the job in the end. But the person who interviewed me called me to tell me that I was not going to be hired, and then gave me some excellent feedback about my interview. She told me how much she enjoyed talking to me. She said that she thought I had a great personality, and that I would definitely fit in in their office. She also expressed hope that I would be able to find a job in their department some day because I needed to be working with other creative people in a design related field.

WOW! That’s the best rejection I’ve ever received! I didn’t get the job for very good reasons (I stink at financials). So I wrote this in my journal: I am grateful for the positive feedback I got about my job interview. I didn’t mention that I didn’t get the job because I want to look back at that entry and remember that I did actually knock that interview out of the park.

My second rule has a purpose. My desk is very public. I’m the secretary after all. If someone should sit down at my desk and see my work gratitude journal and see their name they will see is something good about them! In an office that struggles with toxicity seeing something good about yourself truly helps.

Being grateful really puts things into perspective. It helps me see what the important things are, it helps (sometimes) pull me out of the doldrums of working in an toxic environment. I look forward to it every day.