Ego offering #1: I surrender

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I had a moment last night. Not a full-on meltdown, thank goodness, but a moment where I felt panicky and freaked out and scared and not at all like the competent, successful business lady I want to be.

It was my ego, of course. I've been bumping into it an awful lot lately and learning so much about myself in the process. This time, it was almost as if I could feel the Ego in my chest, wrapping itself around my heart and refusing to let go.

It was very uncomfortable. I journaled. I meditated. I gained a great deal of clarity into what was troubling me. Yet clarity alone did nothing to still the Ego's grip.

How do I get free of this? I wondered. The more I struggle, the more it traps me. So what does one do with an overactive Ego rattling around inside one's chest like a kitten trapped in a box?

The answer came to me as I was drifting off to sleep. Make an offering of your fears.

And something about that felt right. We don't still the Ego by fighting against it. We still it by letting go of what the Ego believes it needs. By offering it up, if you will.

So here is my offering for today (I may have another one tomorrow, or the next day, or the next):

I am afraid to surrender to the faith that everything will work out.

And that's the truth, I realized as I wrote those words. I am terrified to let myself have faith that I will succeed, because some part of me believes that if I let myself have this faith and then fail, it will destroy me.

But it won't, of course. Nor will your fears destroy you, should they come to pass.

We are far stronger than that.

One thing no one ever tells you about job interviews

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Few things are more intimidating than a job interview. You’re sitting across from the hiring manager, conscious of every little thing, a monologue running in the back of your mind that sounds something like this:

Why did my voice just do that weird thing? Dammit, I’m talking too fast. I always talk too fast in interviews. Am I sitting too still? Shoot, now I’m fidgeting! Crap, that was a stupid answer. Did I make a weird expression just now? Why is she so deadpan? She must think I’m an idiot.

If this is your world right now, I feel ya. It’s not easy to put yourself out there, and sometimes it can feel as if every hiring manager is deliberating trying to undermine you.

But having been on both sides of the interview table more times than I can count, I’ll tell you a secret:

Hiring managers want you to be the candidate they’re looking for.

That’s right. The vast majority of hiring managers are not sitting there looking for ways to sabotage you. They’re not trying to make you look stupid. With very few exceptions, they don’t want to upset you, make you cry or otherwise insult your dignity.

Here’s the truth, spoken from years of personal experience: Hiring is incredibly hard work. It’s stressful. It’s exhausting. It always takes longer than planned. By the time you reach the in-person interview, the hiring manager has probably gone through dozens of resumes, job candidates and phone screens. She’s fallen behind on all her other work. She really, really wants you to be the right candidate so she move on to other things (like bringing you up to speed on all the work she needs you to do).

And if the hiring manager is new to interviewing or was never taught how to interview well, he’s probably even more intimidated than you are.

Let that sink in for a moment.

There’s a good chance the hiring manager is even more intimidated than you are.

I’ll never forget the first time I interviewed someone. The candidate sat across the table, looking to me to be the confident expert, and I felt like a total imposter. My inner monologue sounded an awful lot like the one at the beginning of this article:

Do I look confident right now? Ugh, why did I wear a t-shirt today? I look like a total slob! Crap, I don’t know the answer to that question. I should know the answer to that question. Is my face too deadpan? There’s no way he’ll want to work here after this interview. He must think I’m an idiot.

That imposter feeling gets better with practice, but it never fully goes away.

So you see, dear job seeker, you and the hiring manager have more in common than you think. If you’re among the 71 percent of employees who want to change jobs next year, I hope you find this comforting.

And as always, if you need a little help spiffing up your personal brand before the busy January and February hiring season, let me know.

A manifesto for showing up as you are

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Today, I will pay no mind to the voice that says, “I can’t.”

I will believe the voice that says, “I can.”

I will thank the Imposter for doing its best to keep me safe from scary things.

I will do the scary things anyway.

I will waste no time comparing my life to other people’s Instagram feeds.

I will take one step forward. Then another.

Today, I will be courageous.

I will dare to have faith in humanity.

I will give no quarry to hopelessness and despair.

I will prove wrong the cynics who throw their hands up and claim there is nothing to be done.

I will find one small thing that is within my power to change.

I will change it for the better.

I will build the future I wish to see, one brick at a time.

Today, I will be vulnerable.

I will tear down the walls I have built to protect me from pain and rejection.

I will release the love and hurt and tears I have been holding back.

I will be raw.

I will be naked.

I will speak the words I need to speak.

I will make the offerings I need to offer.

I will crack my heart open and let my deepest fears and doubts and yearnings spill out into the world.

I will let the world spill into me.

Today, I will embrace uncertainty.

I will seek wisdom in the midst of doubt and confusion.

I will let go of the need for answers.

I will honor the beauty of the fog along with the path it obscures.

I will wonder at the mystery unfolding before me.

I will surrender to the wilderness of not-knowing.

Today, I will show up as I am.

I will hold space for my shadow as well as my light.

I will resist the urge to fix myself or anyone else.

I will speak my truth.

I will make no apologies.

I will make no excuses.

I will be here and now and whole.

I will tell my own story.

I will let that be enough.

Fallow fields

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In the Middle Ages, it was common for villages to have three fields of farmland. At any given time, two of these fields would grow crops while the third lay fallow. Farmers rotated the fallow fields every year, the idea being that after two cycles of farming, the soil needed time to replenish and restore lost nutrients.

When a field lies fallow, it doesn’t look like much is happening. All the other fields are producing bright and colorful crops; we can watch them change from day to day. But the fallow field is just a pile of dirt. It was a pile of dirt yesterday. It will appear to be the same pile of dirt tomorrow.

But within that pile of dirt, a flurry of activity is happening. Worms burrow tunnels that nourish and aerate the soil. Organic matter decomposes into life-giving nutrients. Rainfall gathers into underground water. The health of next year’s harvest depends upon this rich, invisible dance beneath the surface.

Even at 12 years old, when I first learned there were such things as fallow fields, the wisdom of this approach struck me. Now, as I gaze outside my office window to the unmistakable signs of winter, it occurs to me:

Humans need fallow periods, too.

I don’t think we’re very good at recognizing this. I think we would rather pretend that we can (not to mention should) always perform at our peaks, that even being tired or burned out or undernourished ought to have no bearing on our ability to be creative or do good work.

I fall victim to this mindset, too, which is one of the reasons I look forward to winter every year. For me, the bare trees and fallen leaves are visible reminders that all living things need time to lie fallow. I like to use the season as an opportunity to let my own mind lie fallow, too.

I try not to plan too much or force half-formed ideas out into the world before they’re ready. I make time for writing, art and other creative pursuits, but I do so languidly and without end goals.

Most of all, I do my best to remember that come spring, my sense of vigor and energy will return with all the brilliance of the cherry trees that bloom every March on our block. That their bright flowers are not a judgment on winter’s laziness but do, in fact, depend upon this time of lying fallow.