So I was all triumphant about rescuing Chic n’ Geek from the jaws of fatal error death and even creating a new bee logo…and then life did as life does and, as ever, blogging fell by the wayside. The good news is that I’ve been writing a lot, now that I commute to DC via train. Even though my handwriting is still so horrible even I can barely read what I’ve written, it still feel awesome to be writing again. Unlike most writers whose goal is to write a novel, I don’t see myself as ever being a novelist–the mere thought of committing to something that long and requiring the ability to stay focused on the same thing for months or years grips me with anxiety and a feeling of pre-disappointment with myself for failing at something that never even happened. But short stories or essays…those are both things I’m actually toying with and sort of bumbling towards doing. If I were a “gunner” (the thing I aspire to be in my next life–Type A, non-ADHD, self-confident from birth, and the main trait of the friends I have managed to surround myself with as an adult), I’d declare here and now that I’m setting a goal of publishing a book of essays and/or short stories by the time I’m 50 (next June 14). But, being none of those things, I’m half reluctant to set a goal I know I’ll probably flake out on and half inspired to push myself to make a goal and commit to it. So maybe a goal of writing AN essay or A short story by 50, and, if nobody wants to publish it, that’s what blogs are for, right?
Ok, sorry–I’m sure nobody gives a shit about my interior dialog about this…but then again, you never know–maybe someone out there is grappling with the same thing and reading this will be the push they need to commit to their own goal. Granted, that would mean someone needs to be reading this, which doesn’t seem super likely, given that I’ve all but abandoned this poor blog…but whatever. This is actually one of the reasons I keep blogging–because somehow, every now and then, I actually connect with a cool person thorough it and that one connection makes it all worth the slog.
Anyway, I turned 49 this past week and it had me thinking about the knowledge you accumulate over almost a half a century of being alive. Getting older definitely sucks in many respects–your eyesight goes, your body breaks down and hurts, your hair gets worse each year, you start realizing that this is as good as it gets and it’s pretty much all downhill from here in terms of your looks and the workings of your lady stuff, you can’t sleep for shit…I’ll digress but if you’re my age or older I’m sure you could add to this list. However, in spite of all that bleakness and the realization that now is probably as good a time as any to check your vanity and start cultivating other qualities which will probably fare better as time continues to pass, you start reaching a point at which you’ve experienced enough stuff that you know a thing or two about life. If I were dedicated enough to this train of thought or obsessive enough to list 49 things I’ve learned over the past 49 years, I’m sure I could, but I’m pretty sure nobody gives a shit so I’ll keep it short and simple–the ONE most important thing I’ve learned.
Don’t listen to “people”–listen to yourself and go with your gut. As I look back at my life, I’ve made many mistakes and done a lot of things that “people” would and have say you should never do. Married too young, gotten divorced, gotten remarried too soon after my divorce, switched jobs a million times, had short hair instead of long hair, didn’t breastfeed for a year, didn’t obsess over “expert” childrearing advice, cared too much about my looks, taken risks, told off more than a few people in possibly cringe-worthy ways, swore in front of my kids, didn’t listen to my mom when she was probably right, done stupid shit, done things I’m not proud of having done in retrospect…you get the picture. Yet, evaluating my life today, I have to say that somehow I managed to do a pretty decent job in spite of not heeding the advice of experts…or, pretty much, of anyone.
I think this advice is most true when it comes to career stuff. While I’m by no means a winner at the game of professional success and could have/should have/would have maybe done some things differently that would have enabled me to have achieved more and ascended the career ladder more deftly, I feel like what I have learned is important and just might give me an edge against ageism as I navigate the next 25 years in the job world. So many people who are now at the top of the org chart or who make a living doling out career advice are just wrong in so many ways and are setting themselves up for failure when the inevitable happens and the workplace becomes increasingly dominated by millennials and gen Zers. Thinking that what you wear to work defines the quality of your work so obviously nobody can be productive or professional in jeans. Seeing remote work as a non-option because obviously people can only be productive and collaborative when they’re in the same physical building. Believing that job-hopping is a reflection on the person’s work ethic or commitment to an employer and expecting loyalty even when companies have no such expectation of loyalty to employees. Believing that only a handful of old-school thinkers deserve a seat at the strategy table–even when those people have no understanding that their outdated thinking and methods are a recipe for failure in a new world that requires new world skills and knowledge. Advising you to lie to present a resume that doesn’t include short stints at jobs that didn’t work out for one reason or another–because dishonesty is a better attribute in a potential hire than being human and having the integrity to own up to mistakes.
Ok, so gold star if you made it to the end of this ramble and thanks for indulging me. Now resist that urge to listen to “people” the next time your gut is telling you one thing but “experts” recommend something different. You are the expert of you.