What a Difference a Year Makes

About a year ago, I blogged about Head Games. I was still working at the local private school, still a cheerleading coach, I had officially decided to cut ties with the singing group I was in for a long time, I was auditioning for a season at a theatrical company, I was waiting to hear back about a job I really wanted.

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(This is a pretty photo I found online. I didn’t take it.  But it does look like a journey, no? A pretty journey.)

While I still have my bouts with confidence killers, and even though two weeks ago, a lady asked if I was pregnant because I was looking at fabric (not because of my body this time!), I do know in my heart I’ve made so much progress in the last year. I’m proud of myself.

I did have some bumps in the road.  I miss my old job at the private school, badly at times. There was so much comfort in being someone who had been there so long. There was comfort in a short commute, a predictable schedule, and relationships with truly kind and also intelligent colleagues and students. Also, the job I was offered and took? The one that was to be my amazing new adventure away from the private school world? Wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.  I was lucky though, in that it was a safe learning experience — even if it made me sad to have not gone on to a role that was bigger and better than the one I left, I ultimately did learn a lot about not settling and listening to myself that something was wrong.

To sum it up: I was overqualified but then got pigeonholed into an impossible position that didn’t allow me to shine.  As humble a person as I am, I have to shine in my work.  I don’t need to be the star, but I need to feel my efforts are worthwhile and that I have made a difference.  I also was surrounded by colleagues who were senior to me but much younger — some as many as eight years! Also, the role was very isolated – either I was on the road selling the school to high schoolers or I was holed up in my office trying to concentrate on my work and not the sounds of my younger, yet senior colleagues, laughing and having a blast seemingly all the time.  Quite demoralizing!

I tried to tell myself it would be worth the wait to move up the ladder within the office and starting at the bottom would pay off.  But the voice in the back of my head screamed every time I saw things that frustrated me, that I had many years of work experience over these colleagues, that my input could have been valuable had it been asked of me (or if I had known about the opportunity to even contribute it!). Josef and others who loved me were so happy for me that I tried and tried to believe that I was happy there.  I knew one thing was for sure: it was good to be out of my old environment, just to see someplace different.  It was important to see myself outside of that context.

It was also important — and life lesson coming up — to recognize that this new job wasn’t working out, and it was also important to admit it to those who were supporting me.

Relief through revealing my unhappiness was in site:  Josef and I were on a walk in our neighborhood and ran into a neighbor who had recently starting working at Emory.  To say she was beaming would be putting it lightly!  She was so happy, so proud of her work.  In her happiness — and this is the kind of person she is — she asked how my job was going.

I chose that particular moment to confess: I wasn’t happy. Even though I didn’t want to bring down her happiness level, I was really tired of pretending everything was okay, and I knew she would understand that.

Josef told me as we walked away that he had no idea I was unhappy with my job.  I felt terrible that I hadn’t said anything until then, but I knew it was better to finally come clean.

Less than a week later, this same neighbor said there was an opening in her office, could I send my resume.

I think I sent it within a day.

That Friday, I had a phone interview with my neighbor’s boss.

The following Monday, I had a job interview there.

The following Thursday, I had a phone interview with the HR Rep.  While all of this was moving quickly in a positive direction, I wanted to be cautious. I had already jumped into one job at a new place and wound up unhappy.  I did something no online job hunt resource had told me to do, but I wanted the HR Rep’s honest opinion as she was a neutral party, so to speak: I asked the HR Rep if she thought I was ready for this position.

She assured me that I was an excellent candidate, that my work experience, university background, etc., prepared me well to be successful. It was exactly what I needed to know, and as it turns out, exactly what I needed to hear at that particular moment!

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(This is another pretty picture I found online. It looks likes a hopefilled tree to me. Love these colors! This tree, like I was when I admitted I was ready to quit my job, is ready to produce something beautiful and new.)

Less than two months later, I started in my new role at Emory.

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(Emory’s main gate. Pretty place, eh?)

I fell in love with Emory pretty much before I even started there.  It reminded me so much of Harvard, where I had worked right out of college.  The atmosphere, its people, even its buildings, made me feel right at home.

I’ve been there three months now, and I am so happy I listened to myself about not being happy where I was, that my neighbor was able to offer a solution pretty much immediately, and that I am in a position to really grow in my career.

We’re also really happy in the Henschen household as I share with Josef pretty much on a weekly basis that I really love my job. Not only my job, but just the entire situation I’m in at work. It’s challenging, I really like my colleagues, I’m learning and doing a lot.  There is room for my creativity and input.

Throughout all this, Josef has been so supportive. He and I are closer than ever, thanks to my struggle and my needing to lean on him. He’s been going through some things, too, and I know he’s been leaning on me, too.  I couldn’t have a better person to travel through life with!!

I wonder what the next year will have in store for us — I have this thought with as much positivity as I can muster as I am sure if this past year didn’t get me down, then I can handle what’s ahead. I think having the job search and now job security under my belt paves the way for some new things ahead.  I think I’m ready to sing again, but not making a decision what that looks like yet. We’re going on vacation in three weeks.  I’m excited about the future.

Below is a pic of me around this time last year. Smiling at my sweet Josef, who was the photographer! No clue what the future had in store. It all turned out okay!

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3 thoughts on “What a Difference a Year Makes

  1. So glad to hear that your journey has brought you to a happier, more fulfilled place in your life. Thank you for sharing your experience. And Emory looks gorgeous! I wish you a long time of peace and happiness there.

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