Growing Up Great
It was my birthday on Tuesday and that was the day I arrived In Europe on my free business class ticket for an interview. It was great. Had a nice day and birthday dinner with new friends. The next day I had the interview. Everything went well. It was a case and I just worked through it as best as I could. The wonderful part of the whole experience is that I did not get my normal anxiety or tension headache. I just focused on doing what I could do in the time that I had. The team was also very nice so I felt comfortable and was able to be myself. It was overall a great experience for me.
After they had had some discussions. Their boss calls me in and asks how I think it went. I said it was okay, I know I could have done this and that but I enjoyed the experience of thinking and presenting. Then he said “unfortunately, you’re wrong ...” At this point, my heart skipped a beat, but a part of me is like naaa he’s just joking he’s about to flip the script. He continues “we felt there was a gap in your skills ...” At that point I’m like nope that wasn’t no joke. Mans is telling me no. So he went on to give more detailed feedback and talked about all the things I had done really well, but the one thing they felt I hadn’t done well was a deal breaker. Fair enough. I was disappointed in the moment, more because I didn’t want to go back to job hunting than anything, but it is what it is.
In general, I’m quite proud of my reaction. It shows that I have grown a whole lot. First of all, I recognised what I could have done differently. However, the only way I know what I could have done differently is through doing things the best way I knew how at the time and seeing the outcome of that. The fact that I could have done things differently does not mean I was wrong in my choice. It only means that what I emphasised in my approach is not what they wanted me to emphasise. It is also possible that I could’ve done exactly what was I was ‘supposed’ to do and still not gotten the job. Why? Because that’s just life and when things go according to expectation, it doesn’t necessarily mean you were ‘right’ in your actions, much in the same way that when things do not go as planned, it doesn’t always mean you were ‘wrong’. Things just went as they did and that’s all the information we have at the time. If we begin to identify ourselves with the outcomes in relation to our expectations, we will probably be disappointed or deluded a lot of the time. I believe what is important, is the recognition that every experience gives you an opportunity to take a step forward. However, if you are stuck in that experience, you may not see the directions and thus you become a person who is lost even with a map in his hand.
While it may be useful to spend a little bit of time reliving the experience and redoing, in your head, what has already been done, I believe that time is better spent using the experience to propel yourself forward. To borrow the words of my uncle, see the experience as “a bread crumb taking you to the final destination, but unlike Hansel & Gretel, God Himself is laying the crumbs ahead of you.”
So you move forward, on to the next one. It’s easier when things are clear in your mind and you have an idea of what you are going to do next. I don’t think this idea comes by luck. It all depends on your reaction towards the whole thing. If you believe that was your only ticket to your next destination then for sure you will struggle. It is hard to imagine one thing for a period of time only to find out that it’s not going to happen. It’s almost as though you don’t know where to begin or that you are incapable of doing anything else. This is not true. It only seems that way because fixation on a specific outcome is blinding. That is how I felt earlier in the year when I’d decided I was doing a PhD. That’s not what happened and for a period of time I felt as though I had no other options. And I felt stuck, but unnecessarily so. I was only held up in my head.
It is valuable to develop the perspective that sees the future in present terms - what is in front of you right now. It is tempting to spend time in our imaginations, creating scenarios about what could happen. There was a time I had a job interview and afterwards started looking at apartments in the area. It’s good that I was excited about the role, but my time would’ve been better spent preparing for the next stage, which is what was in front of me and real.
Dealing with things as they come, without too much attachment to the imagined scenarios in your future, helps to handle disappointments better. You’re less attached, so when the thing you expected doesn’t happen when you expected it to happen, it’s easier for you to move on because you weren’t held back by your expectations in the first place.
More importantly, this experience has helped me realise how I’ve become better at having my own opinion of myself. In the past, I would’ve come away feeling defective. But I know I’m great at what I love to do. Sure, I have room for growth, I could probably be a bit faster too- but all those things are potential and come with practice and experience. Because I need more practice does not mean I’m not great now. And that’s something I never really understood. It’s a HUGE step for me to be able to see that. I have always been someone that sees all the things I cannot do. But today, as I mentioned in the post last week, I’m well aware of all I can do and using that to work on being better. So if nothing else, this experience helped me see myself in a better light.
It has taken me time to get to this place, but a constant reminder of all the things I talk about on the blog has helped me to see life as I do today. It hasn’t come immediately and has taken the better part of two years. Still, I’ve grown and it’s amazing.
So my message today, is to emphasise what I have learnt and am trying to apply to my life - that experiences show us a way forward. If we aren’t stubborn or stuck with an idea that things must happen in a very specific way and at a very particular time, you’ll be free to really learn from and be propelled by your experiences. Don’t spend too much time being disappointed. Be quick to find the exciting nugget that has been left for you. It is always there.
Have a great weekend everyone.