When I set my intentions for this year, I focused on fearlessness. My fears have routinely kept me from realizing my potential and I’m so over it. This year is my year to finally stand up to them. The lyrics from Airborne Toxic Event’s song “All I Ever Wanted” say it best: “All I can think is it must be some kind of rebellion / to arm your fears like soldiers and slay them.”
Because this is a year of fear-slaying, I took a chance at work. I don’t usually do that – I try to do my best work without calling attention to myself. It’s generally safer and easier not to stick my neck out. In the early, crazy days of working at a tech start-up, it was a genuinely good strategy and probably a big part of the reason I’m one of the most tenured people in the company, but I’ve kept it up too long. Recently, an opportunity came up to apply for an 8-week project in Belfast, Northern Ireland, working with people from all over the world. I have always wanted to work internationally and it seemed like a dream assignment… but I talked myself out of it. Two people I work with are from the UK, so I’d never get selected, I thought. Even if I did, they’d be mad at me. Anyway, I’m not qualified enough, I don’t have enough experience. It would mess up other opportunities at work. It would be really difficult to leave Tim and my dog, Grif, for 2 months. I needed to focus on my upcoming family trip. I would probably just screw it all up and ruin my relationship in the process.
Yeah, that was my anxiety talking me out of it. Those were reasons not to apply, but they weren’t good reasons. Some weren’t even REAL reasons – it’s unlikely that it would hurt either my career or my relationships. It was difficult to ignore that negative, anxiety-driven tape playing in my head, but with encouragement from co-workers and my mom (as well as Tim’s blessing), I set my concerns to the side and applied for it.
That, in itself, was a risk. Like most people, I try to avoid rejection and disappointment, so it was hard to put myself out there. And yet, I opened myself up for a NO. The negative voice in my head told me the answer would be NO. I braced myself to hear NO.
And the answer was YES!
I’m going to Belfast for two months, through April and May, and I’ll be working with another trainer who I really like (you may recognize him from my Karaoke birthday thing), and… that’s all I know. Everything else is a big fat question mark. That does freak me out, but it’s not going to scare me away. I’m going to prepare myself to do really good work, I’m going to line up some people to stay with if I happen to have a long weekend while I’m there, and that’s it. Everything else, I’m just going to take as it comes.
I am crazy excited. Yeah, I still have that voice telling me that things could go horribly wrong, but it’s getting easier to quiet down. I’ve learned that amazing things can happen when I take a risk, and having that proof is going to make it easier the next time an opportunity comes up.
This news was relatively sudden and unexpected, so I haven’t quite figured out how it’s going to change the direction of my blog. I want to share Belfast. I know it’s a beautiful city with a complicated history and the trip has the potential to be life changing. But I’m not sure what kind of time I’ll have – I might be working 10+ hour days and occasionally on weekends – so writing might be out. If so, this may just be a photo blog for a while! I recently found out that TWO people are reading, so I hope that wouldn’t disappoint you both.
I’ll share more details when I get them!