career, midlife, my thing, self improvement

self sabotage is my thing

For the month of February I have decided “my thing” is readings (tarot, psychic, Human Design etc) but I am dragging my feet on the actual DOING IT part of this decision.

HARD.

You’d think by the way I am actively NOT seeking out readings that I don’t want to do it or something. You’d think that if I wanted to explore this world and try something new (like I have claimed REPEATEDLY I want to do) I would make a move of some kind.

Any kind. Any kind at all…

I make pretend moves. I do research. I compare sites. I “sleep on it.” I follow the IG accounts of people who do this stuff.

I peruse and click and fall down rabbit holes and scroll but in reality I’m dragging my feet and succeeding in one thing and one thing only:

Sucking out hard.

I don’t know why I’m like this. I do stuff. I’ve done things that are actually kind of cool several times (ask my mom, she will totally vouch for me).

But there is something I do know: This is a familiar and boring pattern for me.

Staying safe in the margins, waiting to make the “right” move. Shifting, adjusting, recalculating. Being busy, busy, busy with nonsense and then at the critical moment talking myself out of it and fading into the background.

I don’t think I was always like this. In my mind Young Me was scared a lot but went for it anyway. Until I hit my 20s, at which point second-guessing myself became my Life Plan.

One particular decision stands out.

Me around this time (my late-ish 20s) in Berlin. I don’t know why it’s in sepia, I’m not that old, good God.

I had been working with a client for several months and they expressed an interest in meeting me in person and possibly offering me a position with their company. I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. This could be a potential poaching situation with a client wanting to scoop me up from my employer! I had made an impression! Doors were opening!

All my thoughts were followed by exclamation points for weeks!

I got on the plane. I went over our work together. I carefully picked out my clothes (professional, but not too stuffy, but relaxed, but professional, but youthful, but not too young) and nervously talked with my Dad on the phone in my hotel room. I made small talk with the team, I tried to look comfortable and I endeavoured to learn everything I could without coming off like a robot.

Many years later. Very different “hopped on a plane” vibe. Far more snacks.

I met with the CEO. I met with the head of the Marketing Department. It was a Big Job. A job that would oversee most of a whole dang continent for the company (a small continent, but still). It would be a chance to put my education and experience to the test. It would be a chance to step into my own in a way that would have pushed and challenged me. This was my chance to lean all the way in.

At dinner the CEO introduced me to the team as “your likely new colleague…”

Whoa Nelly.

I flew back home. I unpacked and looked wide-eyed at myself in my bathroom mirror. I did a happy dance in my postage stamp of an apartment.

And then I did something all at once completely out of character but not entirely surprising.

I did nothing.

It pains and embarrasses me deep to my core to admit this, but after I got back home I just… did other things. I worked. I hung out. I went to the gym. I went out for drinks.

I let that excited spark that had lit up my imagination just a short while before… fizzle.

But this wasn’t like me. This wasn’t the real me. The real me had worked her ass off forever. I had lived in several countries. I went to grad school in a subject the polar opposite of my undergrad (undergrad: theatre, grad school: MBA). I never backed down from a dare. I was a very reliable Wing Woman.

All I had to do to seize this opportunity was stand up and say, “Thank you!” and here I was sheepishly pulling on sweatpants and watching Friends reruns with a giant refilled glass of cabernet sauvignon balanced on my knee, trying to be invisible.

Unsurprisingly, the opportunity quietly went away.

Cab sauv.

I would love to say this was the last time I let something like this happen, but it’s not.

I clearly see myself get in my own way often.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accomplished many things that I am very proud of professionally as well as personally. I have grown into new goals I am wholly comfortable with and electrified by. But there are still too many times I have just watched my presence in a situation melt into the carpet for reasons I don’t get at all.

WHY am I shrinking? WHY am I passing this up? WHY I am standing awkwardly like some weird, grimacing, frozen mime??!!!

Older me, new goals, overall very, very grateful… still self-sabotaging… gah.

Back then I know I was scared of screwing up and making a gigantic fool of myself. I don’t think I would have made a total ass of myself, but even if I had I wish that younger version of me had known that it would have been okay. I would have weathered many smallish humiliations for sure, but the earthquake-tsunami-kill-me failures probably wouldn’t have drowned me because I would have found mentors and I would have learned as I went and I would figured it out.

Okay, so I likely would have splatted flat on my face many-o-times.

But I would have survived.

So, I am going to do the thing. There is just a tug-of-war going on over here.


I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

Me driving somewhere. Proof that I do stuff. Photo credit: My daughter. She took this with her tiny kid camera when she was 5 1/2 I think (yup I am definitely bragging about my kid)

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