I thrived in school because I was busy, challenged, and I knew what was expected of me and the precise steps I needed to take to attempt to meet or exceed those expectations.
I’m recently coming to terms with the fact that when my friends teasingly called me an “overachiever” they may have been right. I’ve never really seen the point in half-assing things- if you’re going to do a job, do it to the best of your ability. And if you’ve got this life to live you better make the most of it while you’re here. So in maintaining this mindset, throughout school I aimed for A’s, played multiple sports at a time, joined clubs, ran for offices in my sorority, and worked a job to top it all off. I don’t mean for this to come across as braggadocios, this was just my norm, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
When I graduated all of that was taken from me. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a practice to get to, I didn’t have a test to study for or a paper to write, and I didn’t have commitments to keep me social. All I had was a job with an inconsistent schedule to show up for and a book to write: A job that for all its challenges was not mentally stimulating, and a book that didn’t have a deadline to push me through it.
I’ve spent the better part of the past two and a half years trying to find some semblance of that challenging, provoking, and fulfilling lifestyle, but not entirely sure where to look or how to get there. The funny thing is, I recently realized I’ve experienced more harmful stress trying to cope with having less obligation and responsibility, than I ever felt with nonstop meetings and tests. I think much of this is in part to being a chronic over-thinker. More free time paired with an ever-changing schedule has seemed to translate into more existential rumination for me. Because of that, my post grad years have been marked with a lot of overwhelmed and directionless feelings.
I know that I will never get my exact academic lifestyle back, and I need to make that okay. How busy you are is not a determinate of your success, no matter what society might like us to believe. That being said, I do believe it is okay to need a certain level of stimulation to feel productive, accomplished, and proud at the end of the day. It’s important to recognize what you need so that you’re not sitting around wondering why you’re unsettled. Similarly, you need to learn to adapt without depending on praise or reviews from others to judge where you are at. In school, if you get an A you know you did well, if you get a C you know you need to work a little harder next time, or you have more to learn. There is no grading system in life- it’s just you, feeling okay with what you are able to put forth.
Learning these things has been an ongoing process, and I’m not going to pretend that I’m fully able to practice what I preach yet, but having that information in the back of my mind is a start in the right direction.
I’ve just taken on a full time position with the Portland Timbers MLS club that will be an incredible challenge, but for the first time in a long time I’ve left work feeling as if I’ve contributed something that has been essential to the support of an organization. It has been a long time since I’ve done work that has required me to be efficient, thoughtful, creative, and hasn’t left me with a dull moment, and I am incredibly thrilled to be pushed back into a role in that environment. I have specific expectations and there are specific steps that I need to take to meet those expectations and that is an incredibly settling feeling for me.
Having never worked in HR before, I have a lot to learn, but as aforementioned, I thrive when I get to learn new things and apply them under a looming deadline. Working in sports is incredibly fast paced, and I have enjoyed jumping back into moving from one project and meeting to the next without much time to think in between. I know that the novelty will eventually wear down and I won’t be starry eyed forever, but if I continue to stay challenged and busy, I know that my enjoyment will last a good while longer.
The past two weeks I’ve worked longer hours than I am used to and been overloaded with new information in learning how to a job that’s entirely new to me: I’ve left the office with a smile on my face every single day. I am excited to continue to learn and grow in this opportunity, and I am incredibly thankful that I’ve been given a chance to return to a routine that is closer to a lifestyle that I find comfort in.