Monday, February 23, 2015

Big Kids

It occurs to me that I have spent most of my 45 years feeling like an embarrassed little kid.  I've felt like others were in charge of me - my parents and family, then my husband.  There were some gloriously free years in my 20s, but they were marked with a sense that unless I had a partner I was doing it wrong, so I gave my power to boyfriends or men I wished were my boyfriend.

Ouch.  That's not exactly the feminist, strong, powerful version of myself that I like best.

Lately I've had plenty of opportunities to explore where I belong: do I belong with the little kids, or the big ones?  Do I need to ask permission to do what I want?  Do I need to accept the things that other people do, and simply adapt to them, or am I the one making waves?

45 years old and I'm still figuring this out.

I am in the middle of interviewing for an amazing, wonderful, fantastic job.  In this job, I'd get to work with my passion AND my professional skills.  I'd be doing amazing, meaningful work.  And I'd be doing it in a charming part of town, in a beautiful old building, and surrounded by an incredible team of colleagues (many of whom I've already met: they are smart, interesting, motivated, and the kind of people that I like to be friends with).

It's a long story, but I'm about to enter my fifth interview with this organization (tomorrow), and in the process, something in me has changed.

When I got my job during divorce, I was just clinging to life, hoping that I wouldn't drown.  Then, when I realized the path I REALLY wanted to take, I felt like I was drowning again as I pursued it and thought that my financial house might go down in flames.  When I got the job offer for the place where I now work, I was gasping for breath, fearful, and mostly just RELIEVED that I wasn't going to face utter failure.

But this is different.

This company reached out to me - the friend of a friend of a friend.  And I held back at first, not sure that it would go anywhere, and they pursued me.  And I got more interested.  And I interviewed with lots of higher-ups, and they saw something in me, and let me know it.  They treated me like their equal, and made it clear that I belonged in their circle.  They asked me hard questions, and I answered them.  I asked them hard questions, too, and they answered in response.

And somewhere in the process, my mind has been blown.

For the first time in 45 years, I'm feeling like I belong at the big kids' table.  That I can hold my own with the key players.  That I am not a fraud, and that I have something big to offer, and that they'd be just as lucky to have me as I would be to have them.  To say that this is a different mindset is comically understated.  It feels like a shift at the cellular level, that I am not the person that I was a month or two ago.

I do not know what will happen at tomorrow's interview with The Big Boss.  I do not know if I'm in the top five candidates, or if I'm the top candidate.  I do not know if they will offer me the job, make me interview with twenty more people, or give me a nice little "thanks, but no thanks" speech.  I feel confident about my abilities, and about the fit, but I still don't know what will happen.  (Put out some good thoughts for me, please.  This is a great opportunity in every way for me, and I really want it!)

But what I DO know is that I am worthy of this job.  And that if not this job, another one like it.  I know that I belong with the big kids.  I know that I'm not a fraud.  This knowledge changes the way I see everything!  Really, it's all different now.

Maybe feeling like a little kid is what makes us get treated like one.  Maybe I've been a big kid for a long time and didn't know it, or maybe something really has changed.  Whatever it is, I'm starting to feel like I can hold my own, that I belong anywhere I choose.  I know that this applies to work, and I think it applies to love, as well.

Stay tuned, because big changes are afoot.

Tomorrow, I'll move to the next level, or face rejection (and I'm pretty sure that big kid rejection hurts just as much as any other kind, and I'll have to manage that if it happens).  But I am determined to remember that there is a chair waiting for me at the big kids' table.

Anything is possible.  I can't wait to see what happens next!


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